Drexl Spivey from True Romance. Sirius Black from Harry Potter. Stansfield from Leon. George Smiley from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Over the course of his career, Gary Oldman has played characters all over the morality map, crafting memorable performances every time out. He’s switched between good guys and bad guys so much over the course of his career with uniform success that it’s hard not to wonder how virtue if a character affects the actor’s desire to play him. So it was with that exact question that I began my conversation with the star late last month while attending the press day for the new RoboCop.
In the film, directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha based on the action classic from 1987, Oldman plays an original character named Dr. Dennett Norton, a world-leading expert in the field of robotic prosthetics. He is called upon by the company OmniCorp to help in their mission to create a cyborg who can be powerful enough to replace human police officers out in the line of fire on city streets and take crime investigation to a whole new level. Dr. Norton is able to help in this task with the help of Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), a Detroit cop who is left dismembered and nearly dead when a local crime boss puts a bomb in his car. The doctor is able to bring Murphy back by turning him into RoboCop, but winds up facing important moral and ethical dilemmas when he is instructed to alter his subject’s brain chemistry, potentially taking away both his free will and natural emotional responses.
In addition to discussing the moral blend of characters that Oldman has had the chance to play during his career, the actor also went in depth about the conversations that he had with the film’s director during production. According to the actor, Dr. Norton has a very different role to play in the movie’s plot, and through discussions with the filmmaker discovered something much more interesting avenue to explore. But rather than telling you all about it, you can just watch our interview above.
It was an absolute pleasure to talk with Oldman, one of my favorite modern character actors, and it was even more of a thrill to have him reflect on some of his most notable performances. You can relive some of them in the clips below.
RoboCop arrives in theaters February 12th.