• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2021: Gary Oldman, “Mank”

Gary Oldman is one of the most celebrated actors of his generation, with a diverse career encompassing theatre, film and television and an impressive repertoire under his belt. With movies such as Sid and Nancy, True Romance, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Darkest Hour, in which his portrayal of Winston Churchill won multiple awards, including a Golden Globe and Oscar, Oldman is without a doubt a force of nature. He often plays roles that entail a variety of different accents. In 1997 Oldman not only took a seat in the director’s chair but produced and wrote the award-winning Nil by Mouth, a film partially based on his own childhood.
This year Oldman sinks his teeth into another real-life figure. In Mank, a stylized drama directed by David Fincher, he plays Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. Fincher’s period drama shot entirely in black and white, recreates the darkness around the glory and glamour of 1930s Hollywood. A certain aura envelopes Oldman, as we watch him become “Mank”, a very gifted, tormented functional alcoholic, a gambler who was as rancorous as he was entertaining. What’s perhaps most fascinating is to watch the 62-year-old veteran actor pull off the role of a man half his age.
“In order to successfully immerse oneself into a complex character such as the real-life Mankiewicz was, the most important thing, first and foremost one needs is good writing,” says Oldman. “The writing is your map, your emotional sort of GPS. There’s an old saying: ‘if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.’ I think a good writer helps you find the character. It’ll be in there, and you kind of just have to follow the signs. Sometimes it can take months and sometimes a cloak of inspiration will drop quickly. There’s no particular regimen, each one that comes along poses its own questions and sets up, its own hurdles that you kind of have to climb over.” 
Written by Jack Fincher, who was David Fincher’s father, Mank is a sumptuous and razor-sharp movie. In a unique, articulate visual style, Fincher the director brings the creation of Citizen Kane to the screen. Not just glorifying Hollywood but giving his audience a glimpse of the nastiness, the bitterness and ugliness that went on behind the curtain.
Oldman himself, a recovering alcoholic, has been sober for nearly 24 years and feels he’s been very fortunate in his career. “I’ve worked with some amazing directors. I’ve known David for 20 years, but we’ve never worked together. To have had the opportunity of working with David was a box that has been ticked. In England, you are not just in the league, you are playing in the premier league. When you work on a script as good as Mank, with David and a cast that is just brilliant, and the nicest bunch of people you could ever hope to meet. When you have a remarkable experience like that, I don’t know what you would go to next that would equal it.  
Oldman grew up in a fairly poor area of Southeast London and was the youngest of three children. He graduated from Rose Bruford Drama School, where he received a B.A. in Theatre Arts in 1979. In his mid-twenties, he became an established actor of the London theater. Aside from being an actor, writer and director, the multitalented artist’s entertainment roots are actually in music. From an early age, he was a pianist and a singer. He took to the stage, recorded songs and has since become an accomplished pianist. Over the last decade, Oldman has delved into photography and is passionately interested in 19th-century wet plate photography.