Gary Oldman said that every role he has taken has had its challenges, but with his transformation as Winston Churchill it was “a hard one.” Oldman came on stage during the Focus Features’ rollout of its 2017 slate to promote Darkest Hour from director Joe Wright (Atonement). He revealed that he spent over 200 hours in the make-up chair to become Churchill and “carried around half my body weight” in the prosthetics to add the pounds to his slight frame.

Focus Features should be thrilled with the outcome as should Oldman’s reps at APA because the trailer for the movie that was shown to attendees was met with gasps of surprise that Oldman had so completely transformed to become former Prime Minister in the role. The clip featured Oldman in the role in full make-up and not only was he the spitting image of Churchill both in physical appearance, but also in the cadence and tone of speech.

The movie takes place over the first five weeks of Churchill’s time as Prime Minister when Hitler began his invasion. “We see how very, very close we came to Nazi tyranny,” said Oldman. “Had it not been for Winston, our world might be very different. That, in itself, to come in and play those things is a wonderful gift for an actor.”

“They’re all challenging in their own way but Winston was kind of a hard one,” said Oldman. “It’s a lot to wrap your arms around. Not only the physical, but he is arguably the greatest Brit who ever lived … a kind of iconic figure. It was daunting but once I started to find out who the man was, it was … well, I never enjoyed anything so much in my life … I couldn’t wait to get to work and be him.”