Unbelievably, that photo is of Gary Oldman in character as Winston Churchill. No, seriously. It’s Gary Oldman. He’s starring as the iconic British Prime Minister for a new drama film directed by Joe Wright; Darkest Hour, set for release late next year.
Wright is known for his period pieces – he’s the director behind Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina, and hopefully this will be a return to home turf for him, as whilst those three films were far from perfect, they were infinitely better than his most recent offering, last year’s Pan. However, he did also direct the first episode of the latest series of the brilliant Black Mirror, and whether this was a more ceremonial role that gave him less freedom in directing terms or not, the end result was certainly good. The great John Hurt and the greatly underrated Ben Mendelsohn also feature, reuniting Oldman with his Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Dark Knight Rises co-stars respectfully, so there’s that to look forward to as well.
…it seems he’s putting in the effort and commitment that seems to have been lacking in his more recent roles…
Hopefully this will give Gary Oldman some more space to shine too – not that anyone’s unaware of his talent of course. But with that said, Oldman has had a fairly lackluster few years, going from passable minor roles in things like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to flatout stinkers like Paranoia and Criminal. To think that just a few years before that he gave one of the greatest performances of his career in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy it’s a real shame that this was followed up with such general disappointments, despite the promise of Nolan blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, as since then he hasn’t exactly stood out on the silver screen. Darkest Hour could well change this, and remind us all why we love Gary Oldman so much – the Sid from Sid and Nancy, the Drexl Spivey from True Romance, the Sirius Black from the Harry Potter franchise, etc. etc. Given his forte in playing real-life historical and iconic figures, of which of course Churchill is both, this could be another great role for Gary Oldman, and might even rank among his best – fingers crossed at least.
If that picture is anything to go by (which it isn’t, obviously, but let’s just go with it), then it seems he’s putting in the effort and commitment that seems to have been lacking in his more recent roles, which is in any case a good sign. In fact, even if Wright’s film isn’t great, if his directs the period setting well as he has done before and Gary Oldman gives a great performance, to be honest I won’t care too much.
By Oliver Rowe