Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama


    Gary Oldman – “Darkest Hour”

    GARY OLDMAN:  Well, I feel very humbled and surprised to have been asked to this stage.  I would like to congratulate my fellow nominees for your beautiful work.  I am in very fine company this evening, indeed.  Winston Churchill said, “My taste is simple.  I am easily satisfied with the very best,” and I was surrounded by the very best.  Kristin Scott Thomas, thank you for my beautiful clementine.  Your work is exquisite.  And thank you for putting up with all those awful cigars.

    Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, you are gifted, you’re supported, you’re passionate, and it was a joy to work around you.

    I would like to thank my magnificent make‑up team, Kazuhiro Tsuji, Lucy Spific, and David Malinnowski, your artistry has no equal.  You were kind, and you were funny, and you were patient, and we got through 63 applications.

    I would like to thank producers Doug Sabanski, Tim Bevin, Eric Felner, Alise Burse, and Anthony McCarten, and my wife, who put up with my crazy for over a year.  She would say to friends, “I go to bed with Winston Churchill, but I wake up with Gary Oldman, which I suppose is better than the other way around.

    I am very proud of “Darkest Hour.”  It illustrates that words and actions can change the world, and, boy, oh, boy, does it need some changing.

    Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and thank you, Winston Churchill.


    Backstage interview:

    Q You’ve shown us your lucky charm. Do you have it in your pocket today? It paid off. It’s a little book of —

    GARY OLDMAN: It’s a book of — it’s Churchill’s speech, you know, the fight among the speeches. Yeah. It was given to me as a little talisman by my wife.

    Q Congratulations.

    GARY OLDMAN: Thank you very much.

    Q How does it feel?

    GARY OLDMAN: It feels good.

    Q Can you talk about — because I’m sure you grew up as a young boy being told about Churchill. Knowing about Churchill, he’s certainly in the mind of people over there like many of our presidents are here. What does it mean to play this role? What responsibility did you feel you had in playing the role?

    GARY OLDMAN: Well, I think that when you play someone who has lived, they have family. They have ancestors. They have relatives. So there is a certain sort of responsibility. The good news is that the Churchill family has embraced this film and have embraced the portrayal so much so that occasionally Randolph Churchill will call me “great-grandpa-pa. So we are safe there. My mother, God bless her. She’s 98 and still really kicking and going strong, and she would tell me stories about The Blitz. My father was in the Navy. He fought in the North Atlantic in the convoys, and then he fought in Okinawa back in ’48, ’47. So there is a, sort of, connection. He would have been under the command of the great man. And when I was — when my mother brought me to school and I was four years old, there would be these terrorist houses, and there would be two houses that were missing and then a row of three houses and then a whole block that had been hit by Nazi — by the Luftwaffe, by the bombs. So, for me, this doesn’t feel — for my kids, this is ancient history, you know. For me, it wasn’t — it didn’t feel like that. It felt familiar. And to be an actor and be given the chance — I mean, first of all, the role, I mean, it’s like being offered Four Star [ph] or “King Lear,” you know. I trained for the theater and love words, what words can do, the shape of words, the sounds of them, the feel of them in your mouth, and we get to do that a lot in the theater. You don’t always get the chance to do it in film. So to play him, to have a chance to have a role like some things was an extraordinary thing. I’m proud to have played him. I was very honored to play him, and to get this for playing him is extraordinary.

    Q Obviously, this has really put you well beyond the villains of the past that you’ve had to play and really changed the kind of roles that will probably be coming your way because you’ve shown the extraordinary range and capabilities that you have. So could you just talk a little bit — you probably just want to go on vacation, but could you talk a little bit about what projects might be coming up. And in particular, I heard you might be playing Sigmund Freud.

    GARY OLDMAN: Well, I heard it first from you. I don’t know about that. I don’t know. Sometimes people come up to me, and they say, “Oh, you are going to be doing this?” Or an actor will come up and say, “Oh, I’m in this movie, and I hear that you are going to be doing it.” So that’s the first time — it’s interesting, though. I’ll have to think about that one, but that’s the first time I’ve heard it. You always are at the mercy of the industry, the kind of films, or you are at the mercy of the imagination of the people that are hiring you. I don’t get to see everything. There are directors that I would like to work with who haven’t — no names, but people that you hope would — it’s nice to get a telephone call from and, you know, “So and so wants to meet you.” I’ve worked with some extraordinary directors over the time — over the years, but I really have nothing that comes to me, truly. We have to do this — you know, we are on this ride, and if it goes all the way to March 4th, I’ll be out of work after that. This is my job at the moment.

    Q So there’s been so much talk about your extraordinary physical transformation, what they did. I just couldn’t believe it. I know sometimes you couldn’t. But being in this man’s soul, eccentric guy, all of the crazy failings about him we know but a hero, a leader, did he change you mentally? Did it change your outlook on what we need in our heroes and what you need to be?

    GARY OLDMAN: Well, there are certain — I mean, there are certain figures that are indispensable figures; and, really, looking at Churchill as I did obviously more specifically — more closely than him just being a figure in our British history as arguably the greatest Britain who ever lived, looking in — really, sort of, diving into it, our world order that we’ve kind of enjoyed under the last 17 years, I think, is arguably down to one man, and I think it’s interesting. It’s harmonic in a way that we have Reese and we have America and we have this spearheading, this “Time’s Up.” But as I said out there, I’m proud of the movie because it shows and illustrates the power of words and actions, that words and actions can literally change the world. And the courage that someone like — and he made mistakes, and I’m not saying that Churchill is better. We assume. But the courage that someone had, he had no Army. Not everybody hated him in his own cabinet. There was really no one on his side, and he didn’t have America in the race at the time, you know, behind him. And he took on this racist thug, this dictator. It shows extraordinary, extraordinary courage. And I look at — like you said, the sort of essential people I look at. I look at people like Washington and Lincoln. That’s who I believe you can compare him to, but yeah. Do you know that he wrote — do you know that Churchill was foremost a writer? He wrote more words than Shakespeare and Dickens put together. If you look at the two volumes that he wrote about his ancestors, the Duke of Marlborough, in his circle of romance years when he was really outfavored and he could refer to them as the “wilderness years,” he wrote over a million words in that period. So it’s astounding, and my curiosity and my interest doesn’t stop here with the film and here with this (Referring to his award). I’ll be learning about the man for many, many, many years to come.

    Q I wanted to ask what it meant to you to participate in the movement tonight and what you think men in Hollywood can do to ensure that real change continues.

    GARY OLDMAN: Well, I’ve only seen it when the curtain came down on Harvey, and I was flabbergasted and shocked only because — fortunately, he was never in my orbit. We met him in ’92. He gave me the creeps, and I said, “Let’s not work with that guy,” and never did. I never did a Weinstein film. But when the curtain came down on that, I thought, “I’d love to get his” — it’s evolution. A wheel is turning. There’s another — you know, it’s turned a notch in the evolutionary world that we are still coming out of the mists of time. So what we do, what we say, how we do it, how we say it, and who we say it to and who we do it to is very important, and if that is exposed, then it’s a good thing. I wore, obviously, black tonight. I was in solidarity with this “time’s up” movement. And as I said, the film illustrates what can come from standing up and saying no more. We are not going to take it anymore. You know, it’s that famous line from network, “We are sick as hell, and we are not going to take it anymore.”


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