Gary Oldman is a chameleon. He’s morphed into Winston Churchill, Sid Vicious, and Lee Harvey Oswald, among many others. With such an array of performances under his belt, he actually lost his native British accent. Here’s what happened.
From Humble Beginnings
The son of an alcoholic sailor, Oldman grew up in London. He eventually became a fan of Manchester United and chose to pursue acting after seeing The Raging Moon. Malcolm McDowell enraptured him. He cut his teeth in theatres for years.
After a small role in 1982’s Remembrance, Oldman’s big break came as the lead in the 1986 cult classic Sid & Nancy. He earned tons of praise and some of the first awards of his career. Even John Lydon of the Sex Pistols, who hated the biopic, called Oldman a “bloody good actor.” The role catapulted Oldman into superstardom, and he never really turned back.
Hollywood Is Not In England
Oldman moved to Hollywood in the early 1990s. At 63, he’s essentially spent half his life in the US. His kids were raised on American soil, although not always with Oldman. There’s an ugly history of domestic abuse between Oldman and his ex-wife Donya Fiorentino. Gulliver Oldman, Gary’s son, has come to his father’s defense. In any case, those years in the States changed his accent.
Life Abroad, Lost His Voice
In 2014, Oldman appeared on the Graham Norton Show to promote Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He discussed the curious case of his voice. He said, “I have lived in America for so long…my kids are American and that’s what I hear around me every day and occasionally weird sounds that I don’t notice slip in. I had a voice coach. I had to brush up my English.”
That’s right: Oldman had to work with a dialect coach to procure a proper British accent. American twang snuck into his cadence, so it was snuffed out. He would hit the occasional hard “r” or another odd noise would emerge. Oldman then demonstrates his mastery with a halfway decent Australian accent.
What’s He Up To Now?
As always, Oldman is in demand. The Academy Award winner is going to AppleTV+ for Slow Horses. The thriller also stars Olivia Cooke and Tomorrow Never Dies star Jonathan Pryce. No release date has been announced, but it should arrive sometime in 2022. Since it takes place in England, perhaps Oldman needed a dialect coach once more.