Gary Oldman, actor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



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You're amazing in the film—which, I must admit, I had to watch three times to follow. Very complex.
The book is too. It gets dense. That's a trick we play on people: You need to buy two tickets or, in your case, three.

George Smiley, the quiet master interrogator, seems a stretch for you.
It's not so much a stretch as a relief. He's unusual because he drives the piece, but from a very passive position. He listens physically. I saw Smiley as a wise, old owl. If you've ever met someone who's passive-aggressive, you'll understand.

Please, I'm in journalism. How's your first Oscar race going?
I'm having a ball, actually. You could be stressed by it, overwhelmed, cynical. You could turn it into something torturous. But I've embraced it, particularly because of this movie, which I'm proud of.

Why does this performance get nominated and not the others? Not Dracula or Lee Harvey Oswald or Joe Orton? I could go on.
You've got to be in the consciousness for it to happen. And I never put myself forward.

But why not?
It's just, I never...I don't covet things. Look, I'm sure it helps. You can maneuver a career to an extent, but you're still at the mercy of the people who are casting you. I remember around the time of Sid and Nancy—this is how naive I was—the Americans were telling me, "Oh, you've got to come over; we want to put you up for an Oscar." And being a young actor, I said, "Pffft, I don't need an Oscar. I want to do a play instead. I'm okay as I am." I was very headstrong. Perhaps if I had an agent at the time, it would have been different. 

You probably wouldn't have listened anyway.
[Smiling] No, I wouldn't have.

NEXT: Michel Hazanavicius, director of The Artist

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