Gary Leonard Oldman is an English actor and filmmaker. Among other accolades, he has won an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, two Critics’ Choice Awards, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, along with nominations for an Emmy Award and the Palme d’Or. Known for his versatility and intense acting style, Oldman is regarded as one of the best actors of his generation. Take a look below for 35 more awesome and interesting facts about Gary Oldman.
1. Oldman was born in London, the son of Leonard Bertram Oldman, a former sailor who also worked as a welder, and Kathleen.
2. He has stated that Leonard was an alcoholic who left the family when Oldman was seven years old.
3. Oldman attended West Greenwich School in Deptford, leaving school at the age of 16 to work in a sports shop.
4. He was a pianist as a child, but gave up his musical aspirations to pursue an acting career after seeing Malcolm McDowell’s performance in the 1971 film The Raging Moon.
5. In a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose, Oldman said, “Something about Malcolm just arrested me, and I connected, and I said, ‘I wanna do that’.”
6. Growing up in south London, Oldman supported his local football club Millwall, and also followed Manchester United so that he could watch his idol, George Best.
7. In 2011, Oldman would learn from his mother that his father represented Millwall after World War II, with Oldman stating, “Just after the war, she ran a boarding house, for football players, Millwall players. And I knew that my dad was involved somehow with the reserve team. But two weeks ago my mum said, ‘Oh yeah, your dad played for Millwall. When he was young he had a couple of first team games’.”
8. Oldman studied with the Young People’s Theatre in Greenwich during the mid-1970s, while working jobs on assembly lines, as a porter in an operating theater, selling shoes and beheading pigs in an abattoir.
9. He unsuccessfully applied to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which welcomed him to try again the following year, but advised him to find something else to do for a living.
10. When asked by Charlie Rose if he had reminded RADA of this, Oldman joked that “the work speaks for itself”.
11. He won a scholarship to attend the Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, Southeast London, from which he graduated with a BA in Acting in 1979.
12. Oldman describes himself as ‘shy but diligent worker’ during his time there, where he performed roles such as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
13. After leaving school, Oldman was the first in his class to receive professional work. Oldman stated on The South Bank Show that it had nothing to do with being better than someone else, rather his diligence and application.
14. He made his professional stage debut in 1979 as Puss, alongside Michael Simkins and Peter Howitt, in Dick Whittington and His Cat, at York’s Theater Royal.
15. In 1991, Oldman starred in his first US blockbuster, playing Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s JFK.
16. In 1994’s Léon: The Professional, he played corrupt DEA officer Norman Stansfield, which has since been named by multiple publications as one of the best villains in cinema.
17. In 2001, he starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal, as Mason Verger, the only surviving victim of Hannibal Lecter.
18. In 2004, Oldman returned to prominence when he landed a leading role in the Harry Potter film series, playing Harry Potter’s godfather Sirius Black.
19. In 1997, Oldman directed, produced, and wrote the award-winning Nil by Mouth, a film partially based on his own childhood. Nil by Mouth went on to win the BAFTA Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (shared with Douglas Urbanski) and also the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, the Channel 4 Director’s Award, and an Empire Award.
20. Oldman has had a keen interest in music from an early age. He is a proficient pianist and stated in a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose that he would rather be a musician than an actor.
21. Oldman sang several tracks on the Sid and Nancy soundtrack, on which he performed alongside original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, and sang and played live piano in the 1988 movie Track 29.
22. He traced over Beethoven compositions in 1994’s Immortal Beloved.
23. He also tutored Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on bass guitar.
24. Oldman participated in the creation of The Legend of Spyro games, produced by Sierra Entertainment. He provided the voice of the Fire Guardian, Ignitus.
25. He voices Sergeant Viktor Reznov and scientist Daniel Clarke in the Call of Duty games.
26. He also provides the narration of Sergeant Jack Barnes in the Spearhead expansion for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
27. In 2015, Oldman and his manager Douglas Urbanski signed a deal with the Simon & Schuster/Atria Publishing label Emily Bestler Books for Blood Riders, a vampire book series.
28. After establishing himself as an actor, Oldman moved to Los Angeles, California, in the early 1990s.
29. Despite numerous lead and supporting roles in major Hollywood films, he is intensely private about his personal life and is known for his stance on celebrity and the ideals of Hollywood, stating, “Being famous, that’s a whole other career. And I haven’t got any energy for it.”
30. Oldman’s problems with alcohol were well known during the early 1990s: he checked himself into rehab for alcoholism treatment in 1995.
31. Oldman lives a teetotal lifestyle and attributes his success in beating his addiction to attending meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous, whom he has publicly praised.
32. Oldman is a libertarian and has made critical statements against Nancy Pelosi.
33. Oldman has been married five times. He wed English actress Lesley Manville in 1987, and their son, Alfie, was born the following year. Oldman broke up with Manville in 1989, three months after their son was born.
34. Oldman met American actress Uma Thurman on the set of State of Grace; they were married in 1990, but divorced two years later.
35. From 1997 to 2001, Oldman was married to Donya Fiorentino, with whom he had two sons: Gulliver (born 1997) and Charlie (born 1999).