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Playboy Interview: Gary Oldman
  • June 25, 2014 : 17:06
  • comments

PLAYBOY: If nothing else, you’ve found a profession that lets you channel anger through your characters. The scene in Léon: The Professional of you screaming, “Bring me everyone!” is a classic.

OLDMAN: Again, I could take it or leave it personally. What’s funny is that the line was a joke and now it’s become iconic. I just did it one take to make the director, Luc Besson, laugh. The previous takes, I’d just gone, “Bring me everyone,” in a regular voice. But then I cued the sound guy to slip off his headphones, and I shouted as loud as I could. That’s the one they kept in the movie. When people approach me on the street, that’s the line they most often say. It’s either that or something from True Romance.

PLAYBOY: Another amazing performance. You play Drexl Spivey, a dreadlocked pimp who’s been called the coolest drug dealer in movie history. Please say you enjoyed that role.

OLDMAN: It’s a nice little turn.

PLAYBOY: How did you transform into a white Rasta thug?

OLDMAN: As soon as they told me, “Okay, there’s this white guy who thinks he’s black, and on top of that, he’s a pimp,” I thought, Yeah, I’d like to do that. When you add the matted hair and the eye and the fake teeth, it all comes pouring out. The Drexl voice came to me in New York one day. I heard a kid talking outside my trailer and literally pulled him in from the street and said, “Read this dialogue and tell me what you think.” He read a couple of lines and said, “That’s good, but it don’t fly. I wouldn’t say that.” I said, “What would you say?” and he helped authenticate it so I could show up and become that character.

PLAYBOY: Do people come up and say, “Get off my plane,” like Harrison Ford says to you in Air Force One?

OLDMAN: More than a few times. That movie had some enjoyable moments. I remember the flight deck was on a sound stage and there was a big sign that said NO DRINKING, NO SMOKING AND NO EATING ON SET. At one point I looked over and Harrison was in the doorway beneath the sign with a burrito, a cigar and a cup of coffee, which I thought was hilarious. I could never get the image out of my head. Nowadays we would take out an iPhone and post something like that on Instagram.

PLAYBOY: Let’s talk about directors. How does someone like Francis Ford Coppola, who directed you in Dracula, differ from Christopher Nolan from the Dark Knight trilogy?

OLDMAN: Well, Francis is a hero of mine. He’s arguably the best American director but also a brilliant writer. Many people forget he won an Academy Award for the screenplay for Patton. I recently watched The Conversation again and couldn’t believe how it stands up. I always tell students who want to be writers or directors that first on their list of what to watch should be The Godfather: Part II, because in terms of camera, lighting, cinematography, composition, production design, costume, storytelling, writing and acting, it’s flawless. It’s a master class in filmmaking from soup to nuts.

We didn’t always see eye to eye on Dracula, but I have enormous respect for him. He’s very forceful and lets you know exactly what he thinks. Chris Nolan is more about giving you really good notes. On The Dark Knight he’d do a take and then say something like “There’s a little more at stake.” Francis will shout at you during the take, “There’s more at stake! You love her! No! Love her more than that!” He’s like D.W. Griffith.

PLAYBOY: Goth chicks must have been banging down your door after that movie.

OLDMAN: It’s funny. I used to have this little office on Melrose, and people would come and try to find me. An attractive young woman came in one day with a tattoo of Dracula on her breast and wanted my signature over it. Then she went and had my autograph tattooed. I was cool with that.

PLAYBOY: Have you enjoyed your fair share of groupies?

OLDMAN: I’ve had some wild nights in this hotel, actually. All sorts of goings-on here when I was younger. Hef would be proud of me. I’ve probably had fewer than others but more than some, I suppose. I don’t get the whole autograph thing, though, or taking selfies with somebody. But so be it. People say nice things, though I don’t always particularly believe it. I guess I wish I could enjoy it more. I look in the mirror and think, God, how did I ever fucking make a movie? But there were definitely some wild times.

PLAYBOY: Give us one.

OLDMAN: There’s an amusing story about a trip up to San Francisco fueled largely by vodka and timed perfectly to the big 1989 earthquake. We were literally at the epicenter. Afterward it was like, “Well, was it good for you, darling? Because the earth definitely moved for me.”

Just like anyone out here, anybody in this industry, you’re working with attractive people, you’re young, and one thing leads to another. Few are immune to it. I remember being at a dinner many years ago in New York with Arthur Miller. I was sitting next to him. After we loosened up with a few glasses of vino, I turned to him and said, “Do you ever walk down the street and just stop and go, ‘Fuck, I was married to Marilyn Monroe’?” He went, “Yeah.”

PLAYBOY: Were you loaded on some films more than others?

OLDMAN: It wasn’t that I was at the bar every single night or drinking on set. I always took the work seriously. I always showed up on time. I’m prepared, I know my lines, and I’m shocked when other people don’t. But there was one movie toward the end, The Scarlet Letter, when I was in a dodgy place. And I was pretty good in it too. I have hardly any memory of making it, though.

PLAYBOY: Your co-star Demi Moore called you out on your addiction, right?

OLDMAN: Yes, Demi, lovely Demi. I remain grateful. This past March was 17 years since I last had a drink.

PLAYBOY: What’s the secret to sobriety?

OLDMAN: The secret is you have to want to stop. They talk about 12 steps if you go through the program, but the only one you have to do perfectly is the first, which is to acknowledge that you have a problem and that your life is unmanageable. It’s a horrible thing to be in what people call “the disease.”

PLAYBOY: What’s your take on legalizing marijuana?

OLDMAN: It’s silly to me. I’m not for it. Drugs were never my bag. I mean, I tried it once and it wasn’t for me, though, unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale. To me, the problem is driving. People in Colorado are driving high and getting DUIs. That’s what I worry about. Listen, if you want to do cocaine, heroin, smoke marijuana, that’s fine by me. It’s just that I worry about kids behind the wheel of a car more than anything.

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read more: entertainment, Celebrities, interview, playboy interview, issue july 2014

62 comments

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I love him even more now.
  • Walter
    Walter
    Gary Oldman is an amazing actor. It's nice to get a chance to see this side of him, too. Amazing interview, one of the best I've read.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Gary, please stop apologizing for having a strong, clear POV.
  • Peter
    Peter
    A wonderful interview. Right up there with the Playboy Classics.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    excellent interview...very excellent actor!
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    What a fantastic interview.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    One of the most brutally honest interviews I've ever read.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this interview. Certainly not because of the questions which were asked, but because I actually believed the answers given were genuine. Unfortunately, the vilification which follows voicing your true opinion about "certain matters" is a large reason why we really don't know anyone all that well. Especially a celebrity.
  • Michael
    Michael
    Nobody is born being shocked at nudity, certain words, or certain lifestyles. We are trained to be shocked at these as a means of control. Once you are brainwashed into doing your little dance of shock and horror at words, or nudity, or certain lifestyles, politicians can campaign on a promise of passing laws against bad words in the media, nudity in public or the media, or banning certain lifestyles. Gary Oldman sees these chains on us all and he does not care for them.
  • James
    James
    I always liked Gary Oldman's work, and now I like and respect him even more. It takes real balls to call out political correctness, Bill Maher, and Jon Stewart when you make your living in Hollywood. The only ones who can get away with it are the ones who have real "fuck-you" money like Clint or Harrison. Oldman says he isn't in that category, but he has to be close?
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Bill Maher is not a libertarian. He's a liberal which is about 1/5 a libertarian.Libertarians believe there should be very little or no govt at all. Maher believes in strong civil rights (legalize marijuana), which libertarians support, but he still supports big govt with massive taxes that fund huge entitlements like Obamacare and SS which libertarians vehemently oppose.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Bravo, David Hochman--for letting Gary Oldman shine.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Thanks for saying what a lot of people are afraid to say - guys like Bill Maher get away with saying insulting and despicable things about
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Did they edit out the shocking parts!?
  • Swami
    Swami
    There is no one that could have portrayed Beethoven better. If there was any fault with the movie, it was in the storyline and dialogue.
  • Eric
    Eric
    "Any night of the week you only need to turn on one of these news channels and watch for half an hour. Read the newspaper. Go online. Our world has gone to hell." Poor Gary has fallen victim to the media's ploy of advertising those terrible things which are statistically rare. He's got it right on the money when it comes to reality television being the "museum of social decay", however. Pop music has been damned since 1990.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    You're killin it Gary Oldman. Good for you!
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    So if you tell the truth you have to apologize for it... Gary Oldman is a hero and it is a shame that the elites of Hollyweird hippocrates made him grovel. I would have been more proud of him if he stood up to the elites and said
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    The questions were unintelligent, however, oldman is brilliant, perceptive, insightful, and speaks truth to power.
  • Charlie
    Charlie
    I have always liked Gary Oldman, and Im sorry he felt he had to apologize on Jimmy Kimball the other night. Gary Is refreshing, Im the same age and I was beginning to wonder and I wont any more. Your Ok Gary don,t Change.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Kudos to David Hochman--so rare to read someone smart, talented, perceptive, self-aware and unafraid to speak their minds like Gary Oldman, even when you don't necessarily agree with everything they have to say.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    In England/UK people would read this and think average guy with average views. Agree with most of what he said. Why in USA when someone gives an honest opinion is it a scandal. You Americans are to sensative to truthful people and blow this **** out of all proportions. More people should be truthful like this, then the world would be a far better place.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    For real... A great interview from a great talent. Your POV is refreshing to say the least.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I'm not sure I agree witht he guy on all counts, but it's always fantastic seeing somebody being this honest and open about their views. And what he says about a lot of our culture being hypocritical is very true. People are still racist, and they're still homophobic. They just hide it better.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Great interview. Stop apologizing.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    It really is a shame that he has to go around apologizing for his opinion.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Gary is the ****ing man. Always had a deep respect for him as an actor, and now as an individual.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Bravo, David Hochman.
  • James
    James
    im with oldman **** the people ,,, and everyone is a bigot ,a ***, hypocrite , ans a liar , why should any man / woman have dominion over any other? i say lets go back to our start when you carried your self as honestly as you knew how and if some one challenged your belief you stand your ground as best your can and the strong survive , that way all the lazy ( people ) that want to ride coattails of those who work! **** equality it do"es not exist never has and never will , i believe in helping my fellow man
  • Eric
    Eric
    "Let?s begin with an impressive factoid." Unfortunately, dear interviewer, a factoid is not a tidbit of fact, but rather a falsity that is perpetuated as fact.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    very intelligent and insightful comments...hollywood is a brainwashing, control machine, people should start boycotting these mediocore films and directors,
  • Adrienn
    Adrienn
    Millennials lack passion because they were raised with insta this insta that, porn and fast food, #of likes and followers
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    If you don't understand why legalizing drugs is important you really don't understand
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Interesting man. Only politically incorrect men are.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    So why is he apologizing...?
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Gary, pal, read Enough! please. It's great russian novell, and u can play amazing character in that.
  • Adrian
    Adrian
    Fantastic article I just lightly skimmed through it and hope to get back to it.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I can't believe he says he's against drug legalization, and then calls himself a libertarian. That's boneheaded. However, he's right about Bill Maher failing the basic test of libertarianism, and he does at least indicate some depth of character here.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I'd love it if Playboy asked him about how his libertarianism compares to David Mamet's deeper conversion to libertarianism, or "classical liberalism" after his having researched it for his book "The Secret Knowledge." Mamet actually did his homework and read F. A. Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty" where he even drilled down enough to discuss the essay in that book "Why I am Not a Conservative." If only Oldman (and the rest of the megastars in Hollywood) had that depth of knowledge! At least Oldman is capable of using terms like "hierarchy" correctly -something beyond the grasp of most hollywood "elites."
  • Robert
    Robert
    Drudge has linked a story quoting this interview.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    What a whiny, sexist, racist *****. Stop using this interview as an excuse to be a piece of ****, people.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Not bigoted? Yeah right. Epic interview playboy. You have done well to expose the "honest" Gary Oldman.
  • Joe
    Joe
    So, refraining from calling someone a word that has been historically laced with hatred, persecution, and intimidation, is just the politically correct thing to do? Sorry, but that's bullshit. Nor do I buy the argument that "we all" use such demeaning epithets behind closed doors. That's a bigot trying to rationalize away his bigotry. Sad.
  • John
    John
    My respect for Gary Oldman is now less than when I started this interview.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Aw, poor wittle baby can't get away with being an asshole anymore without being called out for his s*it! How sad. No one's taking away your freedom of speech, dumbf*ck: they're merely stating that they don't agree with your s*itty opinion, and are showing you the door. Don't let the little boys on this thread fool you. The world's not going to hell, there's just a bunch of extreme right-wing a*sholes who can't take the heat of being held accountable for the s*it they say.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I really liked Gary Oldman, but now... He really looks like an OLDMAN, with his crabby attitude and tired old arguments that racists have been trying to hide behind for the past 15-20 years. "I'm not racist, I just say ****** or kike behind closed doors from time to time, everyone does it!" Nonetheless, I'm glad he spoke his mind, I too wish everyone WOULD stop being PC, because if you're a racist, I want to know that I shouldn't support you.
  • Joe
    Joe
    So, refraining from calling someone a word that has been historically laced with hatred, persecution, and intimidation, is just the politically correct thing to do? And if it does slip out, it's just a joke? Sorry, but that's horseshit. Nor do I buy the argument that "we all" use such demeaning epithets behind closed doors. This line of "reasoning" sounds more like someone trying to rationalize his bigotry. Sad.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    is it just me or did anyone else read the entire interview w/ his accent in your head? haha
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    I've loved him since he played Beethoven. I've watched that movie 3 times now, and I'm not one to watch a movie more than once. He was just amazing in that role. He must have studied piano to look so authentic.
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