Gary Oldman Quotes

1. I was quiet, a loner. I was one of those children where, if you put me in a room and gave me some crayons and a pencils, you wouldn't hear from me for nine straight hours. And I was always drawing racing cars and rockets and spaceships and planes, things that were very fast that would take me away.

2. Speaking very generally, I find that women are spiritually, emotionally, and often physically stronger than men.

3. Getting sober was one of the three pivotal events in my life, along with becoming an actor and having a child. Of the three, finding my sobriety was the hardest thing.

4. Well, I needed the work - that's the honest answer. I haven't worked for a while, a couple of years. So I thought it would be nice to get back to work and earn some money.

5. Growing up in a particular neighborhood, growing up in a working-class family, not having much money, all of those things fire you and can give you an edge, can give you an anger.

6. I hadn't worked for a couple of years so I thought it would be nice to earn some money and pay the bills.

7. I did have a knack for playing weirdos. There's still sort of this perception of me out there as being this crazy guy.

8. I never told my father I loved him before he died, and I have a lot of issues about that. They're all swimming around in my head, in my heart, unresolved, and in a way it felt fitting to dedicate the film to him.

9. I wasn't ever a huge fan of comics. Just not one of those kids, you know?

10. I was brought up by my mother and my two sisters, although they're older than me and fled the nest very young, so I was technically raised as an only child, but I was very much loved.

11. I'm not the best audience for that because I'm not a great science-fiction fan. I just never got off on space ships and space costumes, things like that.

12. Interesting things come your way but as you get older, your lifestyle changes. I don't want to travel; I don't want to be in a hotel room away from my family.

13. People who know me , they know I have a sense of humor, I'm a bit of a joker, a bit of a clown really, and I would love someone to exploit that side of me and send me a romantic comedy.

14. Rather like Batman, I embody the themes of the movie which are the values of family, courage and compassion and a sense of right and wrong, good and bad and justice.

15. We lived in a flat that you could pretty much fit in my current kitchen. No wonder people drink! I can't understand why they don't throw themselves off the balconies.

16. And of course I've got kids of my own now, and they love me being in the Harry Potter films. I'm now part of a phenomenon. You become incredibly cool to your kids, and you get a young fan base. So you became the cool dad at school. You're suddenly hip.

17. But you see, I have played more good guys than I have played villains.

18. At 23 it was all about acting. Today it's getting my kids to school, making sure that they've done their homework. I'm in my fifties, and I'm turning into a square. I saw a kid walk into a restaurant the other day and his belt was below his backside. I would have turned him away.

19. I applaud anything that can take a kid away from a PlayStation or a Gameboy - that is a miracle in itself.

20. How many movies do you see when you can say this director really knew what film he wanted to make? I can count them on the fingers of one hand.

21. I don't go to premieres. I don't go to parties. I don't covet the Oscar. I don't want any of that. I don't go out. I just have dinner at home every night with my kids. Being famous, that's a whole other career. And I haven't got any energy for it.

22. I didn't do drugs. It wasn't my thing. But the drink was terrible. Today when I look back, it's like I was another person. You could call it a coping mechanism, but that would be an excuse. I just drank too much.

23. I drank for about 25 years getting over the loss of my father and I took the anger out on myself. I did a good job at beating myself up at sometimes. I don't drink anymore but my alcoholic head occasionally says different. "Nil By Mouth" was a love letter to my father because I needed to resolve some issues in order to be able to forgive him.

24. I got obsessed with classical music, I got obsessed with Chopin, with playing the piano.

25. I had a guitar when I was 6 or 7, a plastic guitar with the Beatles' faces on it. It would be a collector's item now. It would fetch a hefty sum, I imagine.

26. I had what AA calls "a convincer" - which made me realize that I couldn't do it any more. I went out drinking for about 70 hours here in London. At the end I knew I was done.

27. I have three kids who like Harry Potter so I was sort of aware of it. You can't really move from it: it's on buses, in stores, it's everywhere. One of my kids has read the books; the other two are too small but they like the movies.

28. I want my weekends off and I want to put my kids to bed. Those are good reasons to want to be in "Batman 2".

29. If one could have a wish, or an alternative life, I would've liked to have been John Lennon.

30. I'm still a member of the Empire! Although I sometimes feel like an American with a British accent - you get contaminated after so long.

31. It's always hard when you're playing someone for a lot of people out there who are going to see the movie after reading the books. There's a communion between a reader and the writer, so people will have an idea who Sirius Black is and I might not be everyone's idea of that.

32. My big love was the Beatles. I was more into music.

33. It's becoming increasingly harder and harder; there's no such thing as independent film anymore. There aren't any, they don't exist. In the old days you could go and get a certain amount of the budget with foreign sales, now everybody wants a marketable angle.

34. "Nil By Mouth" was a bit autobiographical, but as I always pointed out at the time, that's not my dad.

35. People imagine that actors are being offered everything and you are not. So things come in and sometimes there are things that I want and can't get a meeting on, or go to a different actors.

36. Shakespeare doesn't really write subtext, you play the subtext.

37. People have an idea that one is in control of a career, a lot more than you really are. You can engineer things to an extent. But you are at the mercy of what comes in across the desk.

38. So Harry Potter came in and it is nice that I have kids of the right age. I took them to London and they walked around the set and met Harry Potter and that is thrilling.

39. There will always be spies. We have to have them. Without them we wouldn't have got Osama bin Laden - it took us years, but it happened.

40. Wanting to be a good actor is not good enough. You must want to be a great actor. You just have to have that.

41. What's fascinating is that when you write a script, it's almost a stream of consciousness. You have an idea that it means something, but you're not always sure what. Then when you get on the set, the actors teach you.

42. Your own barometer is all you have to go by, and often what makes a good director is knowing when not to say something. On occasions you can find yourself on a film set where the person who is wearing the director's hat is only trying to justify his position.

43. What other people think of me is none of my business.

44. Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. An acting teacher told me that.

45. You choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color.

46. "F... 'em." Shortest prayer in the world.

47. A lazy man works twice as hard. My mother told that to me, and now I say it to my kids. If you're writing an essay, keep it in the lines and in the margins so you don't have to do it over.

48. I wanted to play Dracula because I wanted to say: "I've crossed oceans of time to find you." It was worth playing the role just to say that line.

49. We all look for that other half, that partner. I mean, wouldn't it be great to say that line to someone and mean it?

50. There's 99 percent crap across pretty much everything. And then there's that one plateau where I want to be.

51. You ever go into a house, see a light switch, and it's slightly crooked? Drives me crazy. Crazy.

52. There are bass players who know when not to play. I don't know if that can be taught.

53. Bernie Taupin! My hero growing up! His lyrics are cinematic.

54. You can make a performance better in the editing, but you can sure tear passion to tatters with the scissors.

55. What would you do if you were a painter, and you gave your painting over to someone, and then you saw it in an exhibition and they'd cut seven inches off the top of it? And the corner was painted red. We thought it would be better red. But that wouldn't happen.

56. I enjoy playing characters where the silence is loud.

57. The phone call is often the best part of it. Your agent says, "They want you to play Hamlet at the Old Vic." And you go, "Holy shit! Hamlet at the Old Vic! Wow! God! Fantastic!" Then you hang up and it's "F..., I'm playing Hamlet."

58. The lights go down. What do you got?

59. When you meet someone, you can get something out of him like when you first look at a painting.

60. I'm almost incapable of lying. I'd be a terrible spy.

61. New York is London on steroids.

62. Downtown L. A. looks like they started to build Chicago and then gave up ... and let it become a sprawling suburb.

63. I never moved here. I came here to make a film. I've lived in America now for nearly twenty years.

64. You're tired? Have a baby, then come back and tell me how tired tired is.

65. There's no handbook for parenting. So you walk a very fine line as a parent because you are civilizing these raw things. They will tip the coffee over and finger-paint on the table. At some point, you have to say: "We're gonna have to clean that up because you don't paint with coffee on a table."

66. You don't step straight up to the front of the ATM line. You don't cut in front of people at the ticket desk. You take your turn. You can learn great life lessons from board games.

67. My kids are my greatest achievement.

68. They're proud of what I've done, but wonderfully underwhelmed.

69. I don't bring the work home. That's because I do the work up front. I prepare. Once you find the character and take it around the block a few times, the engine will always be warm. You just need to rev it up. You're not turning the key cold. You can finish a day, leave it at work, go home, and help the kids with their homework.

70. I never thought I'd see the end of celluloid in my lifetime, but it seems to be one amazing deal away.

71. By the way, the Harry Potter series is literature, in spite of what some people might say. The way J.K. Rowling worked that world out is quite something.

72. A few years ago, my mother asked what I'd like for my birthday. I had enough socks, slippers, and ties. So I said: "I don't know, get me a ukulele." It kind of fell from the sky into my head. And she got it for me. I started playing it and now my kids are into it. So we've gone ukulear in the house.

73. I don't pursue things. They come to me. They come through the letter box. People get an idea in their heads. "What about Gary Oldman?"

74. A director expects you to come in, open your suitcase, and say: "Okay, here's my stuff, guv'nah."

75. There's only one authentic version of Gary, and I've got to really know who that is.

76. I don't think Hollywood knows what to do with me. I would imagine that when it comes to romantic comedies, my name would be pretty low down on the list.

77. We're given a code to live our lives by. We don't always follow it but it's still there.

78. (on portraying famous people) It's a double-edged sword because, in one sense, you have a lot of material to work with, but in a strange kind of way, that puts up a framework that you have to keep within. You can't play Beethoven with pink hair but, to an extent, because no-one has ever met him, who's going to tell me that's not Beethoven?

79. With Beethoven (Immortal Beloved (1994)) I said I wanted a role where I didn't have to do anything stupid with my hair. My agent said: "Read it again!".

80. (on making Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)): I've done so much R-rated work, it's nice to have a job you can show your kids.

81. I had this idea of myself as a shy, kind, sweet chap. I was working with Winona Ryder and she turned to me and said: "F..., man, you're really intense!" I was so shocked, I went: "What do you mean? I'm not intense, I'm sweet!" My passion and energy get mistaken for anger.

82. I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's not Dracula crying, it's Gary Oldman, but using the technique of the character. The emotion is mine, because I don't know what it's like to be undead and live 300 years.

83. Any actor who tells you that they have become the people they play, unless they're clearly diagnosed as a schizophrenic, is bullshitting you.

84. I used to be under the impression that in some kind of wanky, bullshit way, acting was like therapy: you get in and grapple with and exorcise all those demons inside of you. I don't believe that anymore. It's like a snow shaker. You shake the thing up, but it can't escape the glass. It can't get out. And it will settle until the next time you shake it up.

85. (On the shooting for his writing/directing debut Nil by Mouth (1997)): I set aside three weeks for rehearsals. Those long scenes are like a play. But I wanted things loosely structured, more like jazz. Though there was very little improv on screen, sometimes we'd improvise, rev up, to get the energy before shooting. One rule that I broke was that you need to leave a little air between people's lines, that you can't overlap dialogue because you'll clip words on a cut. But you can overlap dialogue, even though editors don't like it. Otherwise, it's your turn to talk, my turn. Another thing: I used only one camera! I'd say to the cameraman: "I need it from this angle!" From my brief association with Isabella Rossellini, I got a new appreciation of Pier Paolo Pasolini and how he was religious about where the camera should go, whether it was too high, too low. I would ask questions on the set, quietly: "For this emotion, is the camera angle too wide, is the camera too low?" I wanted night to look like night! I bullied the cameraman a bit until he got into the swing. You could pick up the light metre and say, seeing how little light: "You've got to be f... joking!"

86. Change is vital to any actor. If you keep playing lead after lead, you're really gonna dry up. Because all those vehicles wean you away from the truths of human behavior.

87. There's an uncanny thing that chemically happens to you when you're in the chronic stages of alcoholic drinking. I have been able, on occasions, to have two bottles of vodka and still be up talking to people. That got very frightening. By nature I'm an isolationalist, so my boozing was at home, thank you. I was not a goer-outer. I mean, I didn't drink for the taste and I didn't want to be social. Someone once described alcoholics as egomaniacs with low self-esteem. Perfect definition.

88. To be able to do this job in the first place you've got to have a bit of an ego.

89. I suddenly got obsessive about boxing and Muhammad Ali around the time he was fighting Joe Frazier. I went off and did boxing. I looked incredibly good in the gym.

90. (On True Romance) I organized Drexl's dreadlocks under my own steam. Then I went to the dentist who made the teeth. Then I thought about the weird eye. I'm only in the film for about 10 minutes - I wanted to make my mark.

91. (On True Romance) I hadn't read the script, and knew nothing about it. Tony (Scott) and I had tea at the Four Seasons and he said: "Look, I can't really explain the plot. But Drexl's a pimp who's white but thinks he's black." That was all I needed to hear. I said: "Yes, I'll do it."

92. When I directed, it was in a bubble, a creative bubble and I was very spoilt there. I'd like to do it again but it would have to be under my method.

93. (On losing himself in roles) It's all about giving the illusion of becoming someone else. If I'm playing a senator, or I'm playing (George) Smiley (in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), he's not going to sound like Gary and he's not going to move like Gary. So I've spent my entire career trying to get away from Gary, and the sort of demons in my head, you know. That all comes from insecurity and doubt and all sorts of stuff. The happiest I've ever been was in Hannibal, because I completely disappeared and I achieved my goal. I thought: "I can't even recognize my ears".

94. (On originally passing on Sid and Nancy) I thought (Sid and Nancy) was banal. I thought it was…"who cares about Sid and Nancy?" I'm not saying now, but at the time. I was a soul man. I was a James Brown guy. I never listened to punk and was not even remotely interested in it. I was working in the theater doing Shakespeare and stuff at the time, and I read this script. And in my arrogance, I thought: "who cares about this?"

95. (On how he joined True Romance) I met Tony Scott, and he said to me: "I can't tell you the plot, I'm not going to tell you the story." He said: "I'm no good at that. (Drexl Spivey) is a white guy who thinks he's an African-American and he's a pimp." I said: "I'll do it." Unread!

96. (On the challenges of acting in "big" scenes) Roles that you play, you would come to work and it's like standing at the foot of the mountain and looking at the summit. And you think: "gee, I've got to get there today." Will I have the reserve, will I have the resource? I'm going to go to a place, and will the well be dry or will it work?

97. (On the filmmaking industry) You get typecast, and people see you do one thing. First of all, you're at the mercy of what people are writing and what they're making. You're at the mercy of the industry and above and beyond that, you're then at the mercy of the imaginations of the people who are casting. They see you do one thing, and then they keep wanting you to do the thing. You do a comedy, and they see the comedy and go: "oh my God, he's funny! We've gotta get a comedy for Gary Oldman." I always say to people: "watch Dracula. You know I can do comedy!"

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