Gary Oldman Charlie Rose 2001-02-01

Actor Gary Oldman discusses character work and his new film, «The Contender.»


Charlie Rose: His breakthrough role was as the punk rocker Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy in 1986. Since then, he has given memorable performances in such films as JFK, The Professional and The Fifth Element. Here is a look at some of the films of his career. (excerpts from »The Professional,» »The Fifth Element,» »JFK,» »Dracula,» »Sid and Nancy») He alsorecently wrote and directed and award-winning feature, Nil byMouth, based on his own childhood. His two most recent characters continue to expand his range. In Hannibal, he is a savagely disfigured millionaire at the hands of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And in The Contender, he plays a zealous Republican congressman. He has received much acclaim for the role, including a recent nomination by the Screen Actors Guild as the Best Supporting Actor. I am pleased to welcome back GARY OLDMAN.
GARY OLDMAN, Actor Yeah, it’s nice to be back.
CHARLIE ROSE Nice to see you. (crosstalk)
GARY OLDMAN —sounds a bit like me.
CHARLIE ROSE Yes, it does!
GARY OLDMAN (unintelligible) scarred millionaire. (laughter)
CHARLIE ROSE Yes, it does! Deeply flawed or scarred.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, scarred.
GARY OLDMAN Yes. Psychic scars.
CHARLIE ROSE Exactly. But we won’t go there yet.
CHARLIE ROSE We’ll get into that a little bit later. When you look at that, that extraordinary array of characters, what do you think? I mean, what goes through your head as you watch them? »Wish I could do it over» or—
GARY OLDMAN Oh, you’re— yeah. I mean, you always somehow wish you could do it over. Yeah, you look at it and— but it’s— it’s like a— I’m on to the next canvas.
GARY OLDMAN You know, you look at it and think »That was me then. I was 24 years old,» or something, 23 when I did Sid and Nancy and— and you know, I’m— I’m getting older, and I’m— I’m enjoying, you know—
CHARLIE ROSE You enjoying it more?
GARY OLDMAN Well, I have more to give, I think. Just— I’m experiencing— I’m living life. I have more life experience to—
CHARLIE ROSE Yeah. It’s like—
CHARLIE ROSE Someone said that you shouldn’t read Tolstoy until you’re 30 because you’ll never understand it because—
CHARLIE ROSE —those kind of human experiences are not part of your own psyche—
CHARLIE ROSE —or your own understanding.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. And there’s also books that one, I think, goes back to, that one’s read and— or even movies that you watch, you re-watch, you know?
GARY OLDMAN I mean, like, books like To Kill a Mockingbird or Huckleberry Finn.
GARY OLDMAN You know. So—
CHARLIE ROSE Is Contender more personal to you because you also are one of the producers?
CHARLIE ROSE Obviously, it’s something you wanted to make.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. Yeah. I thought it was a very good— a very good script and an interesting character and something that allowed me to kind of exercise— you know, open my chest a little and exercise some of the muscles that I haven’t really been working on the last couple of years, I think— you know,getting back to some of the— getting back to the good work,good character work. And you obviously have an investment with something like that—
GARY OLDMAN —an emotional investment.
CHARLIE ROSE You hadn’t exercised them because what?
CHARLIE ROSE Because you—
GARY OLDMAN I just— I think— I hit 40, and I’d made— I’d made my own movie.
GARY OLDMAN And that was— that was out of just a need to create because that’s who I am, and out of a frustration with the business and acting. And so I made— I directed, and I’d— I don’t know. You get— you get contaminated. You get a little bit corrupted.
GARY OLDMAN You know? It’s like anything. And I started to earn money, and I was doing these big movies and— and I was coming away looking at my life, saying, you know, »Well, that was a frustrating experience»—
CHARLIE ROSE Made a lot of money but frustrating.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. And only partially fulfilling. And it’s better than digging in a hole in 30-degree weather. You know, I always have to— I always have to check and say, »You know what? It could be worse.»
GARY OLDMAN I mean, my father was a pipe fitter and a welder.
GARY OLDMAN And if you want to really do hard work—
GARY OLDMAN —then you can do that and try that.
GARY OLDMAN So I feel very lucky and privileged, but it’s all relative.
GARY OLDMAN So this is what I do, and— and this was anopportunity, The Contender, to get back to that kind of workand be— it’s— it’s a— it’s an adult film. And it talks— it— it hearkens back to the— to those political thrillers, you know, All the President’s Men—
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. What is it, The China Syndrome or—
CHARLIE ROSE China Syndrome.
CHARLIE ROSE Manchurian Candidate.
GARY OLDMAN Manchurian— yeah. So it’s for grown-ups, and it doesn’t have, you know, explosions and—
CHARLIE ROSE Yeah. Here’s what’s great about it, in my judgment. A— I love politics.
CHARLIE ROSE Political junkie. It’s obvious. Is that these were interesting characters, you know?
CHARLIE ROSE Jeff did a great job.
CHARLIE ROSE As president. You know?
GARY OLDMAN The incomparable Joan.
CHARLIE ROSE Yeah. Your character you made interesting, even though, you know, there was a certain— I mean, there were qualities that he had that made him unattractive.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. Of course. Yeah.
CHARLIE ROSE I mean, it’s simple, but that’s true.
CHARLIE ROSE He was an interesting guy.
CHARLIE ROSE You wanted to hear him. You wanted to hear him talk.
GARY OLDMAN Well, I think—
CHARLIE ROSE You wanted him on the screen.
GARY OLDMAN I think he had an interesting point of view.
GARY OLDMAN He didn’t believe that she was the right person for the— for the job. Pure and simple. I’ve said, and had my wrist slapped for saying, that in my opinion— more than my wrist slapped. In my opinion, I felt that was the true patriot of the film. Now, we— we never use words like »hero» and we never use words like, you know, »heroes and villains» and that— you know—
CHARLIE ROSE Were you politically where he was?
GARY OLDMAN No, I’m not— no, I’m not politically where—
CHARLIE ROSE But you’re not— but you’re not—
GARY OLDMAN What I try to do is, I think, I try to apply common sense. And if you look at what’s happening— I mean, just take a recent even that’s happened, where Bush has come out and said that he wants to— you know, obviously, have this money go to these faith-based organizations.
GARY OLDMAN I am a— as we know, and we talked about this, I’m a recovering alcoholic.And arguably, one of the great spiritual movements of the 20thcentury is AA.
GARY OLDMAN Because it’s the— it’s the only one that works. It’s the only system, method, principles, whatever you want to call it, a doctrine, I don’t care, but it works. And it is faith-based. Now, that’s a God of your choosing. That— it doesn’t have to be— you know, it could be anything. Could be Buddha. You could— you could worship a cup. But you have to place something higher than you, that there is a higher power. And I think Bush realizes— this is not me talking as a conservative, but just someone looking at it with common sense. That was a great thing about Traffic, that the argument of that film, at the end of the day, was how do you wage a war against your family, that that’s really where it starts. That film says, »This is— put the responsibility back into the home.» And everybody— everybody’s got to have faith. So I think— when I see that, I— I think he’s— he’s— it’s a great idea. That’s where we— where are we going, as a culture? And you’ve got the left-wing media attacking him and— I mean, it seems to me that the most offensive word to them at the moment is Jesus, and the most popular word is abortion.
CHARLIE ROSE Roll tape. We’ll get right back to that, but I want you to see Shelly Runyon, who we’re talking about here, played by Gary, as he explains why he will not support the vice presidential nominee and the choice of president Jeff Bridges. Here it is. (excerpt from »The Contender») Let me just stay with this for a moment. You are saying, just individually — not Runyon, the character — that if you had been a senator, you would have been opposed to her based on the fictional characteristics of this—
GARY OLDMAN Oh, yeah. I think so. I think so.
CHARLIE ROSE Not because she was a woman but because of— here’s where it gets interesting— because of the issue he made of whatever might have happened to her when she was a young—
GARY OLDMAN No, no. I would have made that decision—
GARY OLDMAN —in respect of her— the scandal.
CHARLIE ROSE Yeah. I mean, the notion is—
CHARLIE ROSE —just for the audience, who may not have seen The Contender, is that he uses the fact that, as a young woman, she’d been involved in some— or was said to have been involved in some stuff, fraternity, sorority pranks.
GARY OLDMAN An alleged sexual scandal, yeah.
GARY OLDMAN Which she denied.
CHARLIE ROSE Which she denied. And which turned out to be—
GARY OLDMAN Well, in fact, she just doesn’t comment on it.
CHARLIE ROSE But she doesn’t want to because of her ownintegrity, which ought to be admirable. Doesn’t want to be drawn into it.
GARY OLDMAN Doesn’t want— yeah. No, I can—
CHARLIE ROSE And what— and is making a broader and bigger statement, isn’t she? Can’t we get you to agree with that?
GARY OLDMAN No, I respect—
CHARLIE ROSE We should not be beating up people because of whatever they did in college.
GARY OLDMAN No, I don’t— no, I don’t believe we should. But— but you know, when you’re a public figure, you know—
GARY OLDMAN —it’s— but it wasn’t— I wouldn’t— I wouldn’t— it’s not— irrespective of the scandal ornot—
GARY OLDMAN I mean, it comes across his desk, and he doesn’t search for it. He doesn’t, like, particularly go out of his way and say, »Now I’m going to dig up all this dirt on this woman.» I mean, it comes across his desk, and I guess if there’s an Achilles heel of Runyon—
GARY OLDMAN —then he goes with it. He takes the cheap shot. And that I’m not commending.
GARY OLDMAN But issues like making—
CHARLIE ROSEBasically, that’s the— the ends justify the means.
GARY OLDMAN But she sits there and says, »I do not believe in God. I am an atheist. I want to make the»— you know, »the selling of tobacco of minors a federal offense. I want to ban all handguns.» You know, that’s— I don’t know. I’m— that’s— I— you know, the sort of march to this sort of Orwellian—
GARY OLDMAN —government, the one centralized government that just says, »You live your life like this. We’re going to tell you what to do. We’re going to tell you what to watch.» I don’t— I don’t— I don’t want to live in a world like that.
CHARLIE ROSE I don’t, either.
GARY OLDMAN And I— and I— and there’s— and there’s—
CHARLIE ROSE I’m not sure that’s the world they’re suggesting, but that’s not the world I want to live in, either. I mean—
GARY OLDMAN But when she puts that forward as an argument to the Senate, to the hearing—
CHARLIE ROSE Now, you— let’s take the character played by Joan.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. Right.
CHARLIE ROSE The character.
CHARLIE ROSE That we saw in this movie. My impression is that she doesn’t want to run our lives. She doesn’t want to be Orwellian. She doesn’t want to be Big Brother. She doesn’t want to do any of those kinds of things. I mean, she came across to me as— you know, whether she may be on the left of the political spectrum— yes. You know, however that’s defined. But I mean, I didn’t find her to be, you know, some statist who believed in control over its citizenry. You did?
GARY OLDMAN Well, she’s going— she’s going up for a big position.
CHARLIE ROSE Here’s what makes the movie interesting.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, this is—
CHARLIE ROSE The big position, big stakes—
CHARLIE ROSE —and wonderfully interesting protagonists—
CHARLIE ROSE —and a kind of interesting character who— who does some fun things—
CHARLIE ROSE —the president.
GARY OLDMAN But we can sit here and— and see a movie like this— this is why we wanted to get involved with it, in the first place.
CHARLIE ROSE Exactly! That’s what—
GARY OLDMAN A movie like this, you sit and watch it, and it doesn’t wash over you, and you kind of sit there. It makes you— you’ve got to watch it. You’ve got to listen.You’ve got to think.
GARY OLDMAN And you come out and you say, »Well, I thought she was right.» And someone else will say, »Well, no, but if you really listen to the other side, he might have been right and»—
GARY OLDMAN And that’s what— I think that’s what movies should be. Yes, we want entertainment and—
CHARLIE ROSE So it’s not Air Force One.
GARY OLDMAN No. Air Force One is a thriller.
CHARLIE ROSE It wants to take you to the edge of the seat and for the two and a half hours you spend with it— high drama.
CHARLIE ROSE You walk out of the movie, and you say, »Where are we going for dinner?»
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. And you go, »I enjoyed that.»
GARY OLDMAN »That was fun.»
CHARLIE ROSE »It was fun.» Right. Now— and— OK. Played by people I like. Gets me to beyond the process and the craft. I want to do the craft of acting in this one case. So how’d you approach him? What’d you want me to know, feel, think about this character that you have played so well, you’re probably going to get a Supporting Actor nomination—
CHARLIE ROSE —and already have—
GARY OLDMAN Not for what I just said, but—
CHARLIE ROSE Well, that’s true!(laughter) Sorry you came on here, aren’t you.
GARY OLDMAN No, no, no!
CHARLIE ROSE OK, so tell me how you approach it, as an actor, first, just a sense of—
CHARLIE ROSE What’d you want to deliver to me, as a viewer,about this guy and the way you played him?
GARY OLDMAN That there’s a humanity to him.
GARY OLDMAN I think that you have— (crosstalk) And I try and do that with everything I do.
CHARLIE ROSE Even— even the— the terrorist in Air Force One.
CHARLIE ROSE Where was the humanity in him?
GARY OLDMAN Because he had a— he had a— he had a very— he had a loyalty—
GARY OLDMAN —and a belief.
CHARLIE ROSE And he was— and he was acting in the— in the interest of the higher calling. True?
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, yeah, And so with Runyan, you try and show a man who is not— it’s not— well, it’s not one-dimensional. It’s just— you know— and people who are— people who are evil or bad or— it’s, you know, it’s never just that simple.
CHARLIE ROSE Right. What’s the controversy about this movie? I don’t quite get it. That Dreamworks and— what is all that about? Did you get involved in that? You did? You did?
GARY OLDMAN A little bit, yeah.
CHARLIE ROSE But tell me about it.
GARY OLDMAN No, it’s a—
CHARLIE ROSE What do you mean no? Come on.
CHARLIE ROSE You’ve been sworn here, sir.Didn’t you get it?
GARY OLDMAN I know, yeah. This is— they do — they swear you in here.
CHARLIE ROSE Yes, exactly.
GARY OLDMAN Hand on the Bible. Um, just a couple of things that I had said.
CHARLIE ROSE They changed the movie and you didn’t like the way they changed it?
GARY OLDMAN No, no.That was something that got it, you know. We have a— that was on the Internet and that’s a very dangerous thing because it’s just an expressway.
CHARLIE ROSE So the problem is that there’s no editing on the Internet.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. I mean, a lunatic can come along and just type something in.
CHARLIE ROSE And say I’m the world’s greatest, smartest manand here’s what I think.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. In this day and age— in this day and age, it’s full of unchallenged truths. It just becomes truth if you say it than to actually shake it off. And I just had— I said a few things. I made a few criticism about Dreamworks — not that they influenced, CHARLIE ROSE Tell me what you said. Not what the Internet said you said, what did you say?
GARY OLDMAN But I said that they may haveinfluenced the cut.
CHARLIE ROSE They slanted it a certain way to glorify what? To advance the interest of what? To promote what?
GARY OLDMAN Well, I don’t think it’s any accident that this movie came out when it did. You know, in an election year.
CHARLIE ROSE So it was, in a sense, in your judgment or at least might have been—
GARY OLDMAN A bit of, you know, a bit of propaganda for the Democrats. And they— I mean, they themselves have publicly come out. I mean, Geffen, Katzenberg and Spielberg.
CHARLIE ROSE Dreamworks.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. Have come out and said, you know, made their politics very public and very known. So those comparisons are going to be made with a film like this. That’s good, isn’t it, you know? But you have to be very— you have to be— you have to be very careful now in Hollywood. I’m, you know— I’ve been told I should, you know, just keep my mouth shut. Not have an opinion. Or not have an opinion—
CHARLIE ROSE They don’t know their man.
GARY OLDMAN But not have an opinion that if it doesn’t march with the—
CHARLIE ROSE That’s silly to thinkyou’d ever do that.
GARY OLDMAN Well, no. I couldn’t.
CHARLIE ROSE You couldn’t?
GARY OLDMAN No. No, I’m almost— once in a while I’ve got to put my foot in my mouth.
CHARLIE ROSE Yeah, of course. Or you’ve got to express yourself.
GARY OLDMAN Actually, it’s about self-expression.
CHARLIE ROSE You know what’s great about this? You are at the height of your power as an actor. You’re in demand. You’re giving great performances. Who’s had a better year than you?
GARY OLDMAN Well, I would argue that.
CHARLIE ROSE The only person who’s had a better year than you is probably Ridley Scott.
GARY OLDMAN Well, Russell Crowe’s not—
CHARLIE ROSE Russell Crowe.
GARY OLDMAN Ron Howard. No, I may be at the— I would argue that— I may be at the height of my power or on my game, if you like, as an actor, but I’m not hugely in demand in the current atmosphere.
GARY OLDMAN Which is about there’s a premium on fame andwho’s on magazines and I go— I chase roles that other people get. This is not— now, this is not the angry Gary. This is not the bitter Gary.
CHARLIE ROSE This is a conversation precipitated by me.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, and it’s an observation, OK? I’m just— again, I’m just applying common sense to this. And you look and you say could I play that role? Yes. Am I a good enough actor to play that role? You go, yeah. So what have they got that I haven’t got? You have to look at what you haven’t got because the body of work is there. But in the current atmosphere, the body of work doesn’t mean jack. It doesn’t amount to much. I mean, the fans—
CHARLIE ROSE Is this because of the dumbing down of America?
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, I guess. I think— I mean, I think that there’s never been a more irrelevant time to be an artist.
CHARLIE ROSE You could make that argument.
GARY OLDMAN I could for you, if we had time.
CHARLIE ROSE We’ll do it. I want to see another clip here, OK?
CHARLIE ROSE All right. I want to see two more before we move on to Hannibal. This is where Bridges challenges the real reason behind Shelly Runyan’s opposition to Joan Allen. Here it is. (excerpt from »The Contender»)
ACTOR Shelly, you really made a mess of things for me. You sure did clobber me.
GARY OLDMAN Isn’t it possible, sir, that I was acting in the best interests of the United States?
ACTOR No, no, it’s not possible. That’s what pisses me off. It’s all about retribution for Hartford. Thank you, Trevor. That will be all. Try this. It’s wonderful. I may have taken the presidency from you, Shel, but you one-upped me — you took away my legacy.
GARY OLDMAN Well, I look at her and I see someone who has proven the capacity for disloyalty.
ACTOR Or the capacity for seeing the light.
GARY OLDMAN We’re both sticking to our guns. The difference is, mine are loaded.
CHARLIE ROSE I love movies that have that kind of dialogue.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, it’s a very well-crafted script.
CHARLIE ROSE A well-crafted script.
CHARLIE ROSE All right, we’re going to see one more clip. Get ready for this because we need this to complete the circle in The Contender. And since we can’t see Hannibal, we can only talk about Hannibal. OK, so roll tape and let’s take a look at the last scene and I’ll come back and finish this. We’ve made our points about Contender. Here it is. (excerpt from »The Contender»)
ACTOR Have you seen this?
GARY OLDMAN It’s my file on you, Senator. How did you get it?
ACTOR Uh-huh.
GARY OLDMAN How did you get it?
ACTOR Have you read it yet?
GARY OLDMAN How did you get it? Have you read it?
ACTOR What do you have to say for yourself?
GARY OLDMAN With all due respect, Senator, it doesn’t matter what I have to say for myself.
ACTOR Oh, it doesn’t? It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that all you can claim about me — claim — is that I had sex while I was—
GARY OLDMAN Deviant sex.
ACTOR Oh, deviant? Who says it was deviant?
GARY OLDMAN I do. And what I say, the American people will believe. And you know why? Because I’ll have a very big microphone in front of me.ACTOR Oh, wow, you must really hate me, Shelly.
GARY OLDMAN No, I don’t hate you. It’s not possible to hate you.You’re a — what was it that Reynolds called you the other day? Groovy. You’re a groovy chick. What I do detest is your selfishness.
ACTOR I have served this nation without regard forpersonal income for over 10 years, Mr. Runyan. I don’t believe—
GARY OLDMAN You are selfish because you want to take on a job, the positions, to assume a mantle of gigantic responsibility. And you do it full well with the knowledge—
ACTOR Of what?
GARY OLDMAN Greatness is the orphan of urgency, Lange. Greatness only emerges when we need it most — in times of war or calamity. Now I can’t ask somebody to be a Kennedy or a Lincoln. They were men created by their times.But why I can ask for is the promise of greatness. And that, Madam Senator, you don’t have.
CHARLIE ROSE All right, Shelly.
GARY OLDMAN That’s his argument.
CHARLIE ROSE That’s his argument.
GARY OLDMAN That’s a legitimate argument.
CHARLIE ROSE It is. You don’t have what it takes to be great and I think this office ought to have the potential for greatness. You can make that argument.
CHARLIE ROSE And others can say isn’t it terrible how politics have gotten to the point where it is not about a measurement of greatness, it is about whether there were some sexual thing that happened some time ago that said nothing about greatness. If you call that greatness, you know, he just nominated Clinton— I mean, Kennedy — Kennedy, who we know about sexual stuff. And Lincoln, who might have been— who might have been, you know, approaching depression.
GARY OLDMAN Shelly isn’t interested in the sex scandal.That’s—
CHARLIE ROSE Then why doesn’t Shelly bring her down on the basis of her ideas?
GARY OLDMAN Because that’s where he slips up.
CHARLIE ROSE Indeed. And he—
GARY OLDMAN And that’s where a lot of politicians get an opportunity when something like that— when something like that comes across your desk, you run with it and you go in for the kill. And that’s why a scene later and his wife says you’re just going to go down as a second rate McCarthy. And he says, »But she’s no good.» So he believes in his heart that she’s no good. But what does he do? He goes with— instead of attacking her on the issues — and by golly, would he have a good argument — you know, we just have to run with the atheist thing, I think. You could run with that. And he goes— and he goes down. And this is why the whole thing— but look— but it’s— here’s a movie— I mean, we’re living the movie. We’ve been living the movie. We find out that Bush has a DUI and we can’t get away from it. All of a sudden he’s morally— he has no moral fiber. He’s lied, you know— he’s lied to his daughters. I mean, they’ll go with anything.
CHARLIE ROSE Or failed to disclose.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. But that’s— and that really comes back to— that answers your question of why we wanted to get involved with the film.
CHARLIE ROSE To massage all these ideas.
CHARLIE ROSE Mason Verger.
CHARLIE ROSE Who is he? Who is this character you play and why did you want to play him? And was this one of those roles that you had to pursue? Or was Ridley smart enough to come out to you?
GARY OLDMAN No, it was— it’s like an actor’s dream. The getting of this role was very unusual. I had not read the book. And someone on holiday — in fact, my manager’s wife — had read it while they were holidaying in Barbados, and said, you know, obviously she thought of me. She read Mason Verger and thought, you know—
CHARLIE ROSE I don’t know what that says about you or her.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. »Oh, there’s a great role in this for Gary.» Anyway, I, just as an idea, one day we were at the office and I said, »Have they cast— is Ridley casting that role? Has it been cast?» We made an inquiry to the office and they said, »No, wehaven’t cast that yet. I’ll tell him you’re interested. Give it— » you know, he got my phone number. The phone rings at home. I pick it up and he goes, »Hello, Gary? It’s Ridley.» I went, »Hello.» Wow, you know. He said, »So Mason Verger — da-da-da-da-da.» So, we talked for about 10 minutes and he said, »You’re interested?» I said, »Yeah.» He said, »All right, then, I’ll mypeople do the deal with your people.»
CHARLIE ROSE That close. Oh, man. That’s the best call you ever got.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, I put the phone down and I called up Doug and I just said, »I think Ridley’s just offered me Mason Verger.» And I mean, that’s— I mean, I tried to work with Ridley before. One time I was unavailable. And then we met on Gladiator. And, you know, another actor — not Russell — another actor got the part.And, you know, you move on. So—
CHARLIE ROSE Did Phoenix get the part?
GARY OLDMAN I think so, yeah. I think that was the—
CHARLIE ROSE It would have been fun to watch you, although he did a great job.
GARY OLDMAN You know, so we’ve tried to kind of do this for a while. And so it was wonderful. I mean, I didn’t even have to go in and meet or anything. And, you know, when you get the role and then the— that’s often the best part — getting the phone call. You get the phone call and you go, »Wow! I’m playing Hamlet, you know.» And then you put the phone down and you go, »Oh, my God, I’m playing Hamlet.» Or whatever.
CHARLIE ROSE Now here’s a role in which you’re going to be in a grotesque makeup.
CHARLIE ROSE You’ve got to look like a man who’s been—who’s been—
GARY OLDMAN Basically has no face.
CHARLIE ROSE Has no face. His face has been destroyed by Hannibal Lechter.
CHARLIE ROSE And himself. So what’s the acting challenge here? We ain’t seeing your face.
GARY OLDMAN Well, the— well, I like masks, of course. You can just look at my work, you know. I like hiding, putting on a different face. And this was the— this was— I’m the man of many faces. And now this is the role, the opportunity. I’m now the man with no face. And giving him a humanity, making him human and watchable and even likable at some time, you know, a point is— CHARLIE ROSE There was something likable about him? What?
CHARLIE ROSE I see what it is likable about Runyan.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, but Hannibal’s the most anticipated sequel in—
CHARLIE ROSE Oh, that’s because of Hannibal Lechter, not because of Mason Verger.
GARY OLDMAN No, but— but Hannibal eats people.
CHARLIE ROSE I know that. He’s a cannibal.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, but we kind of like him, you know. Now I’ve got to make—
CHARLIE ROSE You know why? Because he’s given him— Tom Harris has given him all these other qualities.
CHARLIE ROSE He’s smart. He’s cultured. He’s—
GARY OLDMAN OK, well, I’m a match.
GARY OLDMAN I’m a match for Hannibal in this film.
CHARLIE ROSE In what way? Because you’re equally smart?
GARY OLDMAN I’m smart.
CHARLIE ROSE Yeah, but you’re a pedophile.
GARY OLDMAN Well, nobody’s perfect, Charlie. That’s played down.
CHARLIE ROSE It is played down.
GARY OLDMAN That’s only—
CHARLIE ROSE So he eats flesh and you’re a pedophile.
GARY OLDMAN Yeah. And I’m out for revenge.
CHARLIE ROSE So therefore you’ve got a great story.
CHARLIE ROSE You’ve got two detestable people with— one has redeeming qualities, perhaps, although I don’t want to overdo that. And the other, there’s some— he’s been destroyed so you have some sense of let’s see if he’s going to do something bad. This is not a bad person to do something bad to.
GARY OLDMAN Oh, absolutely. So, who’s going to get him first?
CHARLIE ROSE Who gets the bad first?
GARY OLDMAN Is Clarisse going to get to him first and put him back in—
CHARLIE ROSE The slammer.
GARY OLDMAN Or is Mason going to get him first and get the revenge that he so wants and give him a horrible death, which I can’t talk about.
CHARLIE ROSE We’re sworn not to talk about the last 10 minutes of this movie. We’re sworn not to show pictures of you. We’re sworn not to— I mean, are we part of some conspiracy to create excitement about some movie?
GARY OLDMAN Yeah, in a word. They want to sell tickets, don’t they? It’s showbiz.
CHARLIE ROSE Yeah. Now is anything about you that— is there any reason— do you just like these characters to play them? I mean, are you a certain mad genius yourself? Are you a certain—
GARY OLDMAN I don’t know. I mean, I just—
CHARLIE ROSE You’re either mad or a genius.
GARY OLDMAN I’ve been called both. I love— well, they’re like— it’s no different— If I wassitting here and had had a classical career and I had played Iago or Tigress or any of those kind, you know, the mad— you know, mad people out for revenge. I mean, it’s— the bad guys, I’m sure, you’ve had many actors sit in this chair and say that bad guys are more interesting— are kind of more interesting to play.
GARY OLDMAN — to play. And that what —
CHARLIE ROSE (unintelligible)
GARY OLDMAN You know, the thing is, I don’t wear a mask as Myson. I don’t have a mask that he wears —
GARY OLDMAN — and he certainly has the facility —
CHARLIE ROSE No, (unintelligible) —
GARY OLDMAN — and the money to do that, as the character. And we are the only two people, really, in the film, it’s Tony and myself, who don’t, who don’t, who don’t do— we’re so up front with who we are. And that’s what I think makes it— it’s— Tony is— Hannibal is the— it’s the pelt that’s bristling underneath the handmade shirts and the cashmere suits. It’s the other part of us that we push away, because we’re civilized and we’re cultured, and there’s that dark part of us that, that, that— we, that we, we don’t want to know about.He has no problem with it. He’s cultured, he’s well read, he speaks languages, he’s intelligent, he’s a surgeon, he’s a psychiatrist. And he eats people.
CHARLIE ROSE And he eats people.
GARY OLDMAN And he eats people, you know. So it’s— we’re sitting there thinking, Yeah, yeah, he’s all these things, but, I mean, well, God, when’s he going to get the knife out?
CHARLIE ROSE What are you doing next?
CHARLIE ROSE Yes. You got another of those 10-minute calls saying, Let’s do it?
GARY OLDMAN No. I’ve written— I’ve spent the last couple of years writing a screenplay —
GARY OLDMAN — and I’m trying to get the money for that.
GARY OLDMAN Which has been a little difficult, but I’m— so that’s— I’m busy that— busy doing that. And I’m looking, you know, for something.
CHARLIE ROSE You’re open.
GARY OLDMAN I’m open, open for —
GARY OLDMAN — you know —
CHARLIE ROSE For a good role.
GARY OLDMAN For a good role.
CHARLIE ROSE Great to see you. Thank you for coming.
GARY OLDMAN Yes, pleasure.
CHARLIE ROSE My pleasure, (unintelligible).
GARY OLDMAN Thanks a lot.
CHARLIE ROSE GARY OLDMAN, starring in Hannibal, which will be released soon, February 9, specifically. He— it’s an extraordinary performance by him.