Tag Archives: George Smiley

SBIFF Maltin Modern Master Awards Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman is charming. He’s effortless and he’s incredibly affable, which is a stark contrast to many of the prickly characters he’s most well known for playing. He spoke with Leonard Maltin for a little under two hours before the dapper and coarse Ben Mendelsohn presented him with the Maltin Modern Master Award.

Oldman said it was seeing Malcom McDowell in THE RAGING MOON that lit the burning desire for him to pursue a career in acting, which led to Oldman being turned down by a premiere drama school in England where a lot of the greats had studied, including Peter O’Toole.

Oldman spoke about how he fanboy gushed over John Hurt while working with him on TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, Anthony Hopkins during the filming of DRACULA, and over Denzel Washington while working with him on the set of THE BOOK OF ELI.

A very charming moment in the show was when Maltin showed a clip from a Harry Potter film, and Oldman went on to speak about his fondness for the young co-stars he worked with and how they were like a family, and he watched them grow up over the course of ten years. It was a very special period of his career for him, stating that his fanbase went from forty year olds to ten year olds overnight.

During the filming of BATMAN BEGINS, Oldman attributed James Gordon’s world weariness to jetlag, due to the fact that he was flying from LA to England a day or two at a time to film his scenes, not staying on set due to the fact of being a single dad and raising his two young sons.

Maltin asked Oldman about his character of George Smiley, and asked if he would be playing him again. He responded with an almost certain yes, telling Maltin that he really loved playing Smiley, and missed that character dearly. Asked about his preparation for Smiley, Oldman said that he was overly particular on the glasses his character would be wearing, and that he tried on at least one hundred pairs before settling on the pair that was used in the film.

When asked about his many accents he’s used, from Dracula to Churchill, Oldman said he uses not a voice coach, but an opera singer to condition his voice to drop or gain octivs, and once he is done filming said character he essentially unlearns how to speak that way, saying it’s like a muscle and that he can no longer recreate the Dracula voice or his Churchill voice on command.

Ben Mendelsohn was there to present Oldman with the Maltin Modern Master Award once the Q&A was finished. Mendelsohn gave a speech only he could give with his token outback roughness and lewd wit, speaking of Oldman’s many masterpiece performances and how he is one of his idols.

Gary Oldman is a cinematic treasure. He has crisscrossed many aspect of film from hard independent pictures, genre films, as well megabudget franchises. His latest turn as Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s DARKEST HOUR will surely award him the Best Actor Oscar, which for a performer like Oldman an Academy Award is long overdue.

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY -A Review by Frank Mengarelli

“We are not so very different, you and I. We’ve both spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another.”

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is a film I have watched countless times, and a film I look forward to constantly revisiting. It’s easily one of my favorite films of recent years. It’s a simmering, taut film that is masterfully constructed with painstaking detail.


Tomas Alfredson creates a lived in world of spy v spy. Timelines are blurred, present day and the past intermingle throughout the duration of the film, and all we can do is absorb it. The cast is remarkable; each actor is laid upon Alfredson’s pallet, and he takes his time softly brushing each one across the screen.

Gary Oldman is in top form, giving his most low key performance as George Smiley, the master spy. Oldman spends a majority of the film silently lurking, watching, listening; stealthily seeking the traitor in their midst. Colin Firth cashes in on his career’s worth of affability, slyly charming his way throughout the film.


Alfredson, along with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoyteman and production designer Maria Djurkovic build a smoky and dreary world of moral ambiguity in which the characters hide in the shadows, and enter into a game that has already been resolved before it begins.

The film’s ending is as heartbreaking as it is rewarding, resolving just enough to satisfy the audience, but desperately leaving us wanting more. While certain events of the film are closed, there is so much more to be told. The beauty of the craftsmanship of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is that it shows us very little, yet tells us everything.

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