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Playboy Interview: Gary Oldman
  • June 25, 2014 : 17:06
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PLAYBOY: Is there any way the film community could have intervened to save Philip Seymour Hoffman?

OLDMAN: You can try, but you can’t stop someone, no. You have to want to do it for yourself. That’s the only way. I had heard he had run-ins with heroin and booze and things, so it wasn’t a total surprise. Tony Scott committing suicide knocked me sideways. That floored me, as did Heath Ledger. All those ridiculous stories about him being so in the character of the Joker was certainly not the person I knew. That’s sort of ludicrous, people blurring the lines and not understanding. There’s a lot of rubbish talked about acting, and it’s often propagated by practitioners of it. You just want to say, “Oh, shut up.”

Even when you’re working closely with people, you don’t really know what they’re like at home. On the outside someone like Philip Seymour Hoffman appeared to be happy professionally. He had kids; he was working with interesting people. But one never really knows. What eventually happens is you put the drink or the drug before everything else. There’s no argument about how good he was, but who knows what was going on inside? I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but maybe he looked in the mirror and always saw that very pale sort of fat kid. It’s a real tragedy for his family.

PLAYBOY: You’ve been married four times, including, as you mentioned, to Uma Thurman. What have you learned in the process?

OLDMAN: [Groans] Look, relationships are very, very hard. They just are. I mean, four times! I’m not proud to say it. One of them was for 10 minutes. I don’t think it meant very much to either of us. What can I say about marriage? I don’t know. It’s all been a bit of a disaster in that area. I have very good artistic instincts, often right on the money. Love, not so successful. But you know, if someone says, “Here’s a script. Now you’re Beethoven,” that I can do.

PLAYBOY: That was hard work too. You actually played piano for those scenes, right? How did you manage that?

OLDMAN: Well, I do play piano and they showed me playing only certain parts. But yes, I had to learn to play the cadenza to the “Emperor” Concerto, for instance. Just learning that took five hours a day for six weeks. That was the research for the movie, basically—me chained to a Steinway. Whether it’s Beethoven or Lee Harvey Oswald or anyone else from real life, you can’t become the character no matter what anyone says, but with work and research you can go for the spirit.

PLAYBOY: Are you as exacting in other aspects of your life? Is everything color-coded in your closets at home?

OLDMAN: I have very neat closets, yes.

PLAYBOY: Are you meticulous about your car?

OLDMAN: Yeah. It’s part of my curse. I have a Porsche Beck 550 Spyder replica that I look after quite well. The original was made in 1955; mine’s from 1976. And I have a collection of vintage posters. If I get something framed, I can take it back three times to get rid of a little fluff under the glass. I have one of those eyes that I can walk into a room, as I did with my contractor recently, and see the slightest irregularity in a bookcase. I told him, “Yeah, it’s fantastic, but it’s slightly off up there on the left side.” He went, “No, it’s not.” But it was, by something like a sixteenth of an inch. He said, “Fucking hell, how can you see that?”

PLAYBOY: What do you do to relax?

OLDMAN: I couldn’t relax if I tried. I always have to do something. That’s why in my downtime I’m either learning an instrument or doing photography. [holds up hands] I have silver nitrate on my hands because I’ve been working with an old camera I just acquired off eBay—a Dallmeyer plate camera from 1865. I built a little darkroom in the basement, and it keeps me occupied. Keeps me off the streets.

PLAYBOY: How are you with money? Do you micromanage your investments?

OLDMAN: Not really, no. I don’t have a portfolio. I probably have less money than most people think I do.

PLAYBOY: So you’re not seeing much of that $10 billion?

OLDMAN: I mean, I do fine. I once parked my Porsche in George Clooney’s garage while I was away. I said thank you and he said, “It’s no inconvenience. It always makes me look good if I have two Porsches.” You know, that’s what they pay you for. But I’m not getting The Dark Knight or Harry Potter money, certainly. Daniel Radcliffe, now he’s got fuck-you money.

PLAYBOY: What would you do with fuck-you money?

OLDMAN: Well, I sometimes joke that I would just slip away to Palm Springs or someplace and close the gates, find refuge behind the hedges. Right now, for instance, just financing a film, getting studios to part with their money and the sorts of things studios are doing, it’s just a crazy, crazy time. I have a script I’ve written called Flying Horse. It’s about Eadweard Muybridge, the 19th century photographer who arguably invented cinema and had a very interesting life. It’s been nearly two years trying to get money. I have my cast pretty much, but the funding isn’t there. Partly it’s the subject. If it had zombies and Leonardo DiCaprio in it, people would be falling over me.

If you haven’t seen Seduced and Abandoned, you should. It’s a documentary with Alec Baldwin about raising money at the Cannes Film Festival. They try to finance a fictional movie that’s a little like Last Tango in Paris. You see how insane these people are. One guy actually turns to Alec and says, “You were great in that submarine movie. Do you think you could have a scene in this one that takes place on a submarine?” I can understand why someone like Mel, for instance, would finance his own movies now, because it has all become so crazy.

PLAYBOY: Mel Gibson?

OLDMAN: Yeah.

PLAYBOY: What do you think about what he’s gone through these past few years?

OLDMAN: [Fidgets in his seat] I just think political correctness is crap. That’s what I think about it. I think it’s like, take a fucking joke. Get over it. I heard about a science teacher who was teaching that God made the earth and God made everything and that if you believe anything else you’re stupid. A Buddhist kid in the class got very upset about this, so the parents went in and are suing the school! The school is changing its curriculum! I thought, All right, go to the school and complain about it and then that’s the end of it. But they’re going to sue! No one can take a joke anymore.

I don’t know about Mel. He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things. We’re all fucking hypocrites. That’s what I think about it. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word nigger or that fucking Jew? I’m being brutally honest here. It’s the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy. Or maybe I should strike that and say “the N word” and “the F word,” though there are two F words now.

PLAYBOY: The three-letter one?

OLDMAN: Alec calling someone an F-A-G in the street while he’s pissed off coming out of his building because they won’t leave him alone. I don’t blame him. So they persecute. Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him—and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough. He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know? But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, “That fucking kraut” or “Fuck those Germans,” whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone, that we all stand on this thing going, “Isn’t that shocking?” [smiles wryly] All right. Shall I stop talking now? What else can we discuss?

PLAYBOY: What do you think of the pope?

OLDMAN: Oh, fuck the pope! [laughs and puts head in hands] So this interview has gone very badly. You have to edit and cut half of what I’ve said, because it’s going to make me sound like a bigot.

PLAYBOY: You’re not a bigot?

OLDMAN: No, but I’m defending all the wrong people. I’m saying Mel’s all right, Alec’s a good guy. So how do I come across? Angry?

PLAYBOY: Passionate, certainly. Readers will have to form their own opinions.

OLDMAN: It’s dishonesty that frustrates me most. I can’t bear double standards. It gets under my skin more than anything.

PLAYBOY: Who speaks the truth in this culture, in your opinion?

OLDMAN: There are a number of people. A voice I particularly like is Charles Kraut-hammer. I think he’s incredibly smart. I think he’s fair, very savvy and politically insightful, so I enjoy watching him. There are artists as well, like David Bowie, where there’s an autonomy. He recorded his most recent album and didn’t even announce he was doing it. He was in a position where he thought, Listen, I haven’t produced anything for 10 years. If this is no good, then I can just put it in a cupboard and no one need ever know. But he wrote the songs, picked the cover. I’ve always admired David. I’ve known him about 30 years. We’re friends. And David can constantly reinvent himself because he’s so talented. He has a point of view.

One of my sons wants to be a photographer. I said to him, “Why do you want to rob the bank when it’s already been burgled?” There’s no livelihood there. I know great photographers who are still going around with their portfolios. So I said to him, “Look, I don’t know how you would earn a living, but if you’re passionate and this is what you want to do, boy oh boy, you’ve got to have a point of view. Are you going to be a fashion photographer? Are you going to be a journalistic photographer?” It’s great to just sit there and go, “I just want to take pictures, man,” and fuck off to college for two years that I’ll pay for. Wedding photographer? You need a singular purpose. Can I tell you what else I get frustrated about?

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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.
  • Robert
    Robert
    Drudge has linked a story quoting this interview.
  • 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."
  • 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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