Childhood & Early Life
Gary Leonard Oldman was born to Leonard Bertram Oldman and Kathleen in New Cross, London.
His father was a severe alcoholic and left the family when Gary was just seven-years-old.
He studied at the West Greenwich School in Deptford, but dropped out of high school to work in a sports shop. From a very young, he expressed his interest in music and was an accomplished singer and pianist.
After watching Malcolm McDowell’s performance in ‘The Raging Moon’ in 1970, he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in acting. This is when he decided to join ‘Young People’s Theater’ in Greenwich.
During this time, he also did a number of odd jobs to support himself financially. He then earned a scholarship to attend Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Kent, from where he obtained a BA in Acting, in 1979.
He made his professional stage debut in 1979 as ‘Puss’ in ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’ at York’s Theatre Royal.
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He became a hit with the audiences in Glasgow during the 1980s. He was seen in plays like ‘Massacre at Paris’, ‘Desperado Corner’, ‘A Waste of Time’ and ‘Chincilla’.
In 1982, he made his film debut in ‘Remembrance’, a film by Colin Gregg. The next year, he landed a role in ‘Meantime’. He then went on to star in ‘Saved’, which proved to be a major breakthrough for the actor.
He was cast in the lead role of ‘Scopey’ in the play ‘The Pope’s Wedding’ in 1984. He won two of British theatre's top honours: the Time Out Fringe Award for Best Newcomer, and the Drama Theatre Award for Best Actor, for his brilliant performance. From 1985 to 1986, he became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 1987, he received a prestigious BAFTA nomination for his role as Joe Orton in ‘Pick Up Your Ears’. The same year, he was seen in the plays, ‘Serious Money’ and ‘The Country Wife’.
In 1988, he starred in ‘We Think the World of You’ opposite Alan Bates. He also starred in ‘Chattahoochee’ the following year, opposite Dennis Hopper and ‘Frances McDormand. The same year, he starred in the British drama, ‘The Firm’, which is rated as one of his best performances till date.
In the 1990s, he moved to the United States and starred in movies like ‘State of Grace’, ‘JFK’, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ and ‘True Romance’. Oldman soon became a popular actor and portrayer of anti-heroes and negative characters in films.
From 1995 to 1999, he starred in ‘Murder in the First’, ‘The Fifth Element’, ‘Lost in Space’, ‘Air Force One’ and ‘Jesus’.
In the new millennium, he appeared as ‘Sheldon Runyon’, a Republican congressman in the film, ‘The Contender’, which was released in 2000.
The following year, he starred opposite his ‘Dracula’ co-star, Anthony Hopkins in ‘Hannibal’, portraying the character of the only living victim of Hannibal Lecter. The same year, he made two guest appearances on the hit American series, ‘Friends’.
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Following his appearance on ‘Friends’, his career slumped drastically between the first half of the new millennium. He appeared in a few forgettable films including ‘Tiptoes’ and ‘Sin’.
He returned to playing Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s ‘godfather in the ‘Harry Potter’ film series. Radcliffe and Oldman reportedly became very close to each other during the shooting of the film, in 2004.
In 2005, he was seen as ‘James Gordon’ in Christopher Nolan’s, ‘Batman Begins’. He reprised the role for ‘The Dark Knight’, three years later.
From 2009 to 2011, he was seen in ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘The Unborn’, ‘The Book of Eli’ and Catherine Hardwicke’s ‘Red Riding Hood’.
In 2012, Gary Oldman was seen once again in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ as ‘James Gordon and also appeared as a mobster in the film, ‘Lawless’.
In 2014, he starred in the remake of ‘RoboCop’ and in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’.
In 2020, Gary Oldman portrayed Herman J. Mankiewicz in Mank. The role fetched him several nominations, including the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
His performance in ‘Sid and Nancy’, which released in 1986, was critically acclaimed. He played the role of the infamous ‘Sid Vicious’ from the ‘Sex Pistols’. His performance in the film is largely credited for carving a permanent place for him in Hollywood. This is largely considered one of his major works because his performance is ranked as no. 62 in Premiere’s list of ‘100 Greatest Performances of All Time’. His name is also included in Uncut’s list of ’10 Best Actors in rockin’ roles’.
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His role in the 1991 film, ‘JFK’ was lauded by critics and he widely became known for his villainous roles soon after. The film is by-far, one of the highest-grossing films of his career, earning $205,405,498 at the box-office and being nominated for 8 Academy Awards.
Awards & Achievements
Gary Oldman won the ‘Evening Standard British Film Award’ for ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ for ‘Sid and Nancy’, in 1987.
He won the Saturn Award for ‘Best Actor’ for ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ in 1992.
He won the People’s Choice Award for ‘Best Cast’ for ‘Dark Knight’, in 2009.
He won the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for ‘Best Actor’ for ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, in 2011.
He won the Richard Attenborough Regional Film Award for ‘Best British Film Star’ for ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, in 2012.
Personal Life & Legacy
Gary Oldman married Lesley Manville in 1987 and fathered a son with her. However, he divorced her in 1989
He married actress Uma Thurman in 1990 but ended the marriage with her two years later. The couple was childless.
He was in a relationship with model/actress Isabella Rossellini, but called off his engagement with her. He was then briefly married to Donya Florentino from 1997 to 2001. He fathered two sons with her.
In 2008, he married Alexandra Edenborough and currently lives with his family in Los Angeles.
Gary Oldman is an avid supporter of the football team Millwall.