Actor Gary Oldman seems to be in everything and also happens to be really good in everything. Whether he's chewing scenery in The Fifth Element or making an award-winning turn as Winston Churchill, he embodies his role so completely, you forget you're watching a film. Yet stories about Gary Oldman behind the scenes aren't full of the method actor bluster you hear about from time to time; instead, they're stories of kindness and friendship.
Oldman's co-stars don't have any problem telling behind-the-scenes stories about the actor or discussing how he's helped them with their careers long after they leave the set. It's rare that someone this hardworking and prolific has time for friends, but apparently, he's just a really cool guy.
- Photo: The Samuel Goldwin Company
Sid & Nancy chronicles the rise and demise of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, punk rock's most doomed couple. In the film, Oldman and co-star Chloe Webb seem like they're really in love and barely holding on to the rest of the world.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Webb said that by the time they were finished making the film, she and Oldman had grown so close it felt like they were the only two people on the planet:
It was an extremely depressing film to make and, depending on who you talk to, some people would say Gary and I were really pulled under during the shooting. The film was more or less shot in sequence and it was like being on a road trip that grew increasingly oppressive. Sid and Nancy’s world got smaller and smaller, they saw other people less and less, and grew increasingly obsessed with each other. Toward the end of the film, it’s as if Gary and I were alone together on a filthy mattress that was like a tiny life raft.
- Photo: Bram Stoker's Dracula / Columbia Pictures
Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula received mixed reviews upon its release, but critics across the board loved Oldman's turn as the ageless vampire. He throws himself into the role, and, according to Coppola, was happy to hang out and share ideas with the crew.
In 2015, Coppola told Entertainment Weekly:
Gary Oldman was on set for three weeks before he started shooting his scenes. He spent all this time hanging out with the makeup guys and they kept inventing new personages - the bat creature and all these prosthetic suits and things. Those things that later tormented Gary, he had invented and added in those weeks of creative waiting... He loves cooking up ideas. He’s a very intelligent person. It’s a pity that he gets cast as villains too much of the time.
- Photo: The Fifth Element / Gaumont Buena Vista International
Luc Besson, who's made some of the most stylish films of the last few decades, has worked with Oldman multiple times throughout his career. Besson cast Oldman as a heavy in both Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, and he told Empire that he keeps hiring the well-trained English actor because he doesn't take forever to get into character:
Gary Oldman is the best actor in the world. There are a lot of excellent actors, but very cerebral. They need six months to get the sense of the thing. If the guy has to be a garbage collector he has to be a garbage collector for half a year and all this bullsh*t. With Gary, if you say you’ve got to play a garbage collector, he’ll ask what time we start shooting tomorrow and he can play it. Right away. If you ask him to play Hamlet, in a week he can play it. No other actor in the world can do that.
- Photo: Paranoia / Relativity Media
Harrison Ford has a history with Oldman. The two played opposite each other in Air Force One, a '90s presidential thriller full of scene-chewing by both actors. And in 2013, they starred in Paranoia as enemy tech giants.
Ford told MTV News that in Paranoia, the pair were playing the "worst kind of enemies": two friends who had turned against each other. In real life, however, the two were pumped to work together again. Ford said, "It was a great pleasure for me to work with him again; I was really looking forward to it."