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

PLAYBOY: Go for it. You’re on a roll.

OLDMAN: More and more, people in this culture are able to hide behind comedy and satire to say things we can’t ordinarily say, because it’s all too politically correct.

PLAYBOY: Do you have something in mind?

OLDMAN: Well, if I called Nancy Pelosi a cunt—and I’ll go one better, a fucking useless cunt—I can’t really say that. But Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can, and nobody’s going to stop them from working because of it. Bill Maher could call someone a fag and get away with it. He said to Seth MacFarlane this year, “I thought you were going to do the Oscars again. Instead they got a lesbian.” He can say something like that. Is that more or less offensive than Alec Baldwin saying to someone in the street, “You fag”? I don’t get it.

PLAYBOY: You see it as a double standard.

OLDMAN: It’s our culture now, absolutely. At the Oscars, if you didn’t vote for 12 Years a Slave you were a racist. You have to be very careful about what you say. I do have particular views and opinions that most of this town doesn’t share, but it’s not like I’m a fascist or a racist. There’s nothing like that in my history.

PLAYBOY: How would you describe your politics?

OLDMAN: I would say that I’m probably a libertarian if I had to put myself in any category. But you don’t come out and talk about these things, for obvious reasons.

PLAYBOY: But there are a ton of conservatives in Hollywood, and libertarians too. Bill Maher has called himself a libertarian.

OLDMAN: I think he would fail the test. Anyway, unlike Bill Maher, conservatives in Hollywood don’t have a podium.

PLAYBOY: Fine. We’ll give you one. What would America look like under President Hillary Clinton?

OLDMAN: What can I say? I feel we need some real leadership, and it’s nowhere in sight. Look at what’s happening right now. John Kerry going off to China to talk about North Korea? What’s that going to do? The ludicrousness of it. What a waste of money. You’re going to go to the puppeteer and say, “Can you help me with the puppet?” As far as Hillary, I guess I feel like my character in The Contender, Shelly Runyon. He doesn’t want Joan Allen to become president; he just believes she isn’t the right person for the job. It’s nothing to do with the fact that she’s a woman, but he uses a bit of dirt on her to bring her down.

PLAYBOY: By the way, what happened on The Contender? The rumor is you objected to the movie’s final cut because it had a liberal bias. What actually went down?

OLDMAN: The stories got blown out of proportion. I just happened to mention that there was another cut of the film that I thought was superior. I can’t even remember what it was because there were so many cuts and things that we watched. But I did watch a cut that was probably a minute and 20 seconds longer that had just a little shift from the final cut that made me go, “I think that’s a better cut than this.” I’m very proud of the film. We produced it. But it had the whiff of a scandal, which I’m told may have cost me an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. It’s all part of the journey, I guess.

PLAYBOY: Would it mean something to you to win an Oscar?

OLDMAN: I suppose, yeah. But who knows? Does it mean anything to win a Laurence Olivier Award or a Tony? I guess it’s peers or people acknowledging you in some way. I know it certainly doesn’t mean anything to win a Golden Globe, that’s for sure.

PLAYBOY: Why not?

OLDMAN: It’s a meaningless event. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is kidding you that something’s happening. They’re fucking ridiculous. There’s nothing going on at all. It’s 90 nobodies having a wank. Everybody’s getting drunk, and everybody’s sucking up to everybody. Boycott the fucking thing. Just say we’re not going to play this silly game with you anymore. The Oscars are different. But it’s showbiz. It’s all showbiz. That makes me sound like I’ve got sour grapes or something, doesn’t it?

PLAYBOY: Does it?

OLDMAN: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have an Oscar.

PLAYBOY: Everyone likes to imagine Hollywood as this glorious monoculture of glittery celebrity, but it sounds as though you feel quite separate from all that.

OLDMAN: I think so, a bit. It’s sort of like a club. I’m respected, but it’s still a little bit like something’s happening over the garden wall. Do you know what I mean? It’s like being invited through the curtain into first class. Occasionally I can see what they eat up there, but then it’s back to my seat.

What people don’t realize is that you need to work at being a celebrity. I’m not talking about movies. I mean the other side of it. You have to campaign. It’s a whole other part of your career, and I wish I could have navigated it a bit better. I may have an Oscar now, had I.

PLAYBOY: Do you consider yourself successful?

OLDMAN: I’m successful. I know that. And I think I’ve been successful because I’m probably very good at what I do. I’ve been very disciplined. I’ve been very focused. I’ve been very lucky—that plays a huge part. Sometimes not getting a role ends up being the best thing. When a project turns out to be a disaster, you look at it and go, “Wow, I dodged a bullet there.” Of course, it’s worked against me when I’ve turned something down and someone had a huge success with it. But it’s been a good run.

I love to work and I wish that could be enough. Now we’re in this thing where everything has to be analyzed and dissected behind the scenes. I personally never want to know how the guy pulls the rabbit out of the hat. I don’t need people prying. Maybe I’m shy. I don’t know. You look at a movie like Hannibal, and even with all that makeup, it was the most free I’ve ever been. I think it’s because I was hidden. On the other side of that coin, the most stressful role, the most painful to do, was Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. There’s no mask. It’s very exposed. You have to play boring in an interesting way. Not that Smiley is a boring character, but he’s plain. Everything is dialed way down. You look at something like The Professional or True Romance or even State of Grace, and there’s a kinetic sort of ferocity and a fire to those characters, where the volume is up. I understand why Alec Guinness had a kind of nervous breakdown leading up to the shooting of the original Tinker Tailor and wanted out. I had a breakdown too, briefly.

PLAYBOY: You did? What happened?

OLDMAN: At first I passed on the movie, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Once I signed on, I thought, Fuck me! I can’t do this. I can’t pull this off. Everybody’s going to see what a fake I am. This is the moment I get found out. Who does he think he is? He thinks he’s Alec Guinness.

Now, normally I agonize after a movie, not before. I’ll walk down a street and suddenly I’m thinking of a scene I did two years ago. I’ll go, “That’s how I should have done that line.”

Maybe with Smiley I felt that people would see all the things I can see about myself that I don’t like. And if I don’t like them, then they won’t like them. All the things I critique were out there. I remember Peter Sellers saying that the time he was happiest in life was in the very moment of actually playing the characters. Everything else was just a bit of noise—the thought of doing it, the preparation, the building up, the going away, the packing the bags, the getting on the plane, the staying at the hotel. All of that, as glamorous as it sounds, after you’ve been doing it on the road for 30 years, you just want to get on the set and go. It’s like that for me too. Everything is okay when I’m in that moment. As soon as I put the clothes on and walked on the set as Smiley, I was as relaxed as I’ve ever been.

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

64 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
    One of the most brutally honest interviews I've ever read.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    What a fantastic interview.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    excellent interview...very excellent actor!
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Bravo, David Hochman--for letting Gary Oldman shine.
  • 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
    The questions were unintelligent, however, oldman is brilliant, perceptive, insightful, and speaks truth to power.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
    Did they edit out the shocking parts!?
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    You're killin it Gary Oldman. Good for you!
  • 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
    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
    Gary is the ****ing man. Always had a deep respect for him as an actor, and now as an individual.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    For real... A great interview from a great talent. Your POV is refreshing to say the least.
  • 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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    is it just me or did anyone else read the entire interview w/ his accent in your head? haha
  • 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'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.
  • Adrienn
    Adrienn
    Millennials lack passion because they were raised with insta this insta that, porn and fast food, #of likes and followers
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    very intelligent and insightful comments...hollywood is a brainwashing, control machine, people should start boycotting these mediocore films and directors,
  • 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
    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
    I loved this interview and Mr. Oldman has nothing to apologize for.
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