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Oscar Winner Gary Oldman on the Challenges Bringing 'Darkest Hour' to the Silver Screen

By Paul Zahn | January 12, 2018 | People

We caught up with Oscar winner Gary Oldman and his producing partners to find out the hurdles they faced leading up to the release of his latest film Darkest Hour.

Gary_Oldman_as_Winston_Churchill

Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in Darkest Hours.

Gary Oldman on Being Asked to Play Winston Churchill

GARY OLDMAN: They came to me with this idea and I said, ‘How the hell am I going to do that?’ You know—look at me. If someone said to me we are doing the Stan Laurel story or even if that had said Neville Chamberlain—I could get my head around it. But not Churchill! So that was always, ‘How are we going to do it?’ I am nearly 60. I am not going to put on weight. I would have to gain sixty to seventy pounds to even come close to physically representing Churchill. And I would spend the rest of my life on a diet! The only way we are going to do it is make up. I said to Joe, ‘The only man on the planet that could even remotely pull this off is Kazuhiro Tsuji.’ The problem being—he was retired. The good news—he lived 20 minutes from my house. I camped out nights on his front lawn and stalked him for a bit. I seduced him to come and do it. Boy, did he deliver.

Producers Douglas Urbanski and Eric Fellner on Originally Having Two Winston Churchill Films

DOUGLAS URBANSKI: We did have another Churchill project. It was a fully financed project—a pretty good script. The script also coincidentally covered the exact time period of this movie. The problem was—that film did not have a director. And it also did not have Gary Oldman. I had longed for Gary to play Churchill. There are four characters in history I wanted him to play. He did not want to play Churchill. Eric Fellner called me and said, "You guys have a Churchill project and I have a Churchill project. Let's not compete, lets join forces.”

Urbanski on Convincing Gary Oldman to Play Winston Churchill

DU: It took a full year for us to get Gary Oldman. We put Joe Wright [the director] and Gary in a room together. Joe tells you who his designer is going to be, who is going to shoot it—he brings with him an A list of people. You look at the way Bruno [Delbonnel] shot this film, the way it is scored—this is what Joe brings. You have Working Title Films supporting the film and Gary had his own hurdles.

Gary Oldman on Working with Producers Douglas Urbanski and Eric Fellner

GO: Eric and I worked on a little movie called Sid and Nancy. They are both anti-establishment characters—Churchill and Sid Vicious. Churchill had his time when he was an outsider. It’s nice to reconnect [with Fellner] after 30 years. I wish we hadn’t had waited 30 years but we are here now. We are very proud of the film. Douglas and I have worked with just as long—we were young when we started. We have a creative partnership and we have never had a cross word.

DU: The day is young!



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