Sometimes, you can look back at an actor’s resume and you may think, “Ooh!” Conversely, you may think, “…Ewww.” Most of the time, though, it’s a strange mix of the two where you end up wondering, “How did [Insert Actor Here] end up in that piece of crap?”
Gary Oldman is by all accounts an established, respected actor but my word, has he been in some terrible dreck. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Name: Leonard (?!) Gary Oldman
Hobbies: Perfecting accents, since he uses a new one in almost every film; scenery chewing; stealing movies out from other actor’s feet; being almost criminally underrated by a lot of critics and The Academy; being the “thinking girl’s Brad Pitt”.
What He’s Best Known For: Playing psychopaths, freaks and other malcontents of society; he’s the guy producers keep on speed dial for when you have that crazy whack-job character you haven’t cast yet.
Léon/The Professional — Oldman starred in an excellent film about a hitman who befriends a small girl after her parents are brutally murdered. Of course Oldman plays the psychotic cop Stansfield, who has such classic lines like, “I like these little calm moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven. Can you hear it? It’s like when you put your head to the grass and you can hear the growin’ and the insects. Do you like Beethoven?”
Yeah. Psycho, right? He’s also a big pill-muncher. Seriously, there’s a lot of good acting in this one (Jean Reno and Natalie Portman) but Oldman pulls the rug out from under all of them. Good movie, too.
The Fifth Elemnt — Here we see Oldman costumed by Jean-Paul Gaultier as the thickly Southern accented villain; he overcomes having a massive piece of Plexi-glass glued to his poor head to become actually pretty freaky. Zorg’s not a nice character, but Oldman gives the character a lot of depth where there could’ve been none.
Sid & Nancy — He gave Sid Vicious some sort of emotion instead of just portraying him as the snarly punk we all knew; more people my age can now identify Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious than Sid Vicious as Sid Vicious, I think. He and Chloe Webb did a great job as Sid and Nancy.
Air Force One — Okay, I love Air Force One, but I can firmly admit it’s a bad movie. Gary’s rockin’ it as a maniacal Russian extremist who hijacks Air Force One with the President on board. It’s a pretty bad action movie, but Oldman is good — as usual — while putting on another crazy accent. Harrison Ford started his decline right about here, which is sad, but true. Seriously, everyone in this movie is not so good save for Oldman. And that includes Glenn Close as the Vice-President.
The Scarlet Letter — if your movie is so terrible, so awful, that I can’t appreciate Gary Oldman in it, you’ve screwed up royally. Thanks a lot, Demi Moore. There aren’t words in the English language to describe the suck of The Scarlet Letter.
Immortal Beloved — Gary had a pretty good role in Immortal Beloved, which tells the story of Ludwig von Beethoven and an old friend’s quest to find his “immortal beloved”, who is listed in his will after Beethoven’s death. While Oldman does a spectacular job…the rest of the movie just falls flat. If I want to turn off the movie even though Gary Oldman’s in it, you’ve got problems.
Hannibal – Oh my god, this movie blows. The book sucked; the movie was worse. Gary Oldman plays the psychotic, insane Mason Verger who’s hellbent on seeking his (oddly elaborate) revenge upon Hannibal Lecter. Lecter’s the one responsible for making him look like Pumpkinhead, so understandably, Verger’s a little upset. Oldman does a good job even under 18 pounds of prosthetics, but I’m glad you can’t recognize him in this film. Really glad.
Lost In Space — A travesty of filmmaking. I like this movie in a “so bad it’s good” kinda way, but let’s face it; it’s atrocious and the TV show wasn’t even that good. For having an all-star cast, it fails spectacularly, probably just because everything about it is just bad. Even Oldman look like he’s phoning it in for the paycheck; it has one of the worst plots I’ve ever seen (time travel? giant spiders? …the hell?) and generally manages to make William Hurt, Mimi Rogers and Gary Oldman look bad.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula — Francis Ford Coppola, what were you thinking? Keanu Reeves? Winona Ryder? The filmmakers had a stroke of genius casting Oldman as what else – the tormented Dracula – but this movie sucks hard. Keanu Reeves looks like he’s constantly looking around as if to say, “Am I really in this movie?” Winona Ryder looks stoned. And Gary? He kind of totters around being his badass self, outfitted in his top hat while his harem of female vampires writhe around back in Transylvania. What a hot mess of a movie.