Holiday movies: How a secret recipe helped Gary Oldman transform into Winston Churchill
By Bob Strauss
Churchill, Churchill, Churchill. You’ve got so many great actors playing Britain’s World War II prime minister nowadays, you’d think he was a Kennedy or something.
The standout among this year’s crop of Winstons, though, appears to be Gary Oldman’s in “Darkest Hour” (Nov. 22). The veteran English actor – who incidentally portrayed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in “JFK” – is receiving across-the-board raves for his portrayal of Churchill at the stressful moment when he rose to power in May of 1940, while Nazi forces were conquering France and poised to wipe out the UK’s army trapped on the beach at Dunkirk.
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Written from tons of new research and with no little imagination by Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”), the movie depicts a Churchill under pressure from within and without to come to terms with Hitler before all is truly lost, despite his his strong will – and indomitable reputation – for fighting totalitarianism to the last.
“This story was one that I did not really know,” Oldman, who has turned down offers to play the legendary statesman in the past, explains. “Or, at least, I did not know how close we came to doing some kind of deal with Adolf Hitler. But this wasn’t a whole life I was being asked to do, which was attractive. I just thought it was a very specific moment, a very crucial moment, in our history.
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“I mean, the winner for me here is history itself. I felt very privileged to have been able to tell this story. You know how historical events can just become a word, like people say, ‘Oh, the Dunkirk Spirit,’ but they don’t […]