The Crazy Way Gary Oldman Transformed Into Winston Churchill For Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill

When looking at the image above, you'd never guess that the actor portraying Winston Churchill is the legendary Gary Oldman... but you'd be wrong. The Oscar-nominated actor is playing the legendary British Prime Minister in director Joe Wright's upcoming Darkest Hour, and his transformation is absolutely incredible. In fact, the only thing more amazing than the final look is Oldman's efforts to ensure that it happened, as he actually brought an artist out of retirement to get the job done right. He recently told me,

The challenge, obviously, apart from, as you say, taking on the guy - such an iconic figure, so quoted, so misquoted... that was something itself to wrap your head around. The physical was a big thing, because you only need to look at me and look at Winston Churchill. So that was paramount. I found a guy who I knew, Kazuhiro Tsuji, who was a makeup artist and retired from movies and went into fine art. And so I was lucky enough to lure him back and drag him out of retirement to work. And together we worked on finding my Churchill -- sort of 'Gary meets Churchill.'

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Gary Oldman this past week on the Focus Features press line at CinemaCon, where the actor was on hand to promote his part in the aforementioned historical drama. With only the chance to ask one question, I inquired about his breathtaking transformation, and Oldman totally surprised me with his story about convincing Kazuhiro Tsuji to return to the movie industry for one last job.

When you look at Kazuhiro Tsuji's history of work, you begin to understand why Gary Oldman specifically wanted to work with him on Darkest Hour. Some of his notable credits include Guillermo Del Toro's Hellboy, Tim Roth's Thade in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, and Jim Carrey's The Grinch in Ron Howard's How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Those movies feature some of the greatest prosthetic work of the last 20 years, and Tsuji's job with Oldman is once again absolutely stunning. He's been nominated for two Oscars already, but this film could actually get him the trophy.

Between Dracula, True Romance, The Fifth Element, and Hannibal, Gary Oldman has spent the bulk of his career as a chameleon, and Darkest Hour could prove to be his most amazing transformation yet. Based on a script by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything), the new movie is set in the early days of World War II and chronicles the Winston Churchill's clashes with Adolf Hitler. The impressive cast also includes Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, and the dearly-departed John Hurt.

You can watch Gary Oldman talk about his transformation into Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour in the video below:

Darkest Hour doesn't have a trailer yet, as the movie won't be out until the fall, but look for it in theaters on November 24th and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more details.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.