Gary Oldman, who spent more than 200 hours in the makeup chair to become the iconic British politician Winston Churchill, and at the film’s end had carried around half of his body weight with the prosthetics that added 10 pounds each day, not surprisingly said Darkest Hour provided his most physically challenging role.
Oldman garnered a Best Actor nomination today and is considered a lock to win the Oscar. Focus Features’ Darkest Hour scored six noms overall including for Best Picture.
Oldman, who has been acting for 36 years, was nominated once before in the category in 2012 for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This past weekend he took home the SAG Award.
He said this role for him “was an exercise in stamina … it was just the coming in four hours before everyone else and then you are working a 10-12 hour day and then it was an hour to remove (the synthetic skin) in the evening. The days were long and you are the motor of the film, so to speak, working in almost every scene, so it was a question if I would have the stamina to do it. The actual wearing of that material is like a synthetic skin. It was not restrictive. Once it’s on, you are not aware of it. I do have a tough skin, I have to say that. It seems that my skin is very resilient to it. But I enjoyed playing him so much that it just got me through.”
Darkest Hour from director Joe Wright took what could have been historically dry material and turned it into an edge-of-seat dramatic thriller. The film was written by Anthony McCarten; it was produced by Douglas Urbanski, Lisa Bruce and McCarten.
A first clip of Oldman as Churchill was seen in March of last year at Cinema Con and the entire room gasped when they saw him in full makeup in the small clip. Not only does he look like the great man who averted Nazi tyranny, he had his cadence and tone of speech down pat. Not surprisingly, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick were nominated in the Make-Up and Hairstyling category this morning.
The movie, produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, takes place over the first five weeks of Churchill’s time as Prime Minister when Hitler began his invasion of Europe.
Oldman said he studied old news reel footage and read clippings to prepare for the role.
“There are over 800 books written on the man and that’s not counting the 50 books he wrote himself. There is a wealth of material,” said Oldman. “I went to very specific things because you could just get choice blind. I sort of concentrated on this particular period of his life and then like any character you start to piece him together.”