• Golden Globe Awards

Out of the Archives: Gary Oldman on “The Scarlett Letter”

Gary Oldman, Golden Globe nominee as Best Actor in a drama for playing Citizen Kane’s screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz in Mank by David Fincher, spoke with journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1995 about The Scarlett Letter, directed by Roland Joffé from the 1850 novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, where he played Arthur Dimmesdale opposite Demi Moore as Hester Prynne.
“I get very much linked and associated with the people that I play, maniacs, crazy policemen and psychopaths, so there’s a strange perception of me out there in the world that I must be a crazy maniac, and I’m not. I’m rather tender, loving and sweet.  And those are all the qualities that I loved about Arthur. This is the closest role to me, so in that sense, it’s a very honest performance.”
“We all share pain on varying levels, we’re all as mixed-up as one another, whether people turn to drink or to drugs, whether it’s co-dependency or child abuse, overeating or spending money that we don’t have, or however it all comes out. I’m not special or unique, because we all have that, but I’ve got a job that requires me to store all that up and use it. Everything ultimately has to have my signature on it, you can’t get away from you, and so you invest your characters with a great deal of you because this is all you have. I don’t play piano, I don’t stand there and interpret a piece of music through a violin, I use me, so in that sense, I drew from a lot of reference points in my own life.”
“I found this a very easy film to make, in terms of my own personal struggle with the character, and it was made doubly enjoyable because of Demi Moore. She was already on board when I got the call that they wanted me for this romantic lead, which I was staggered about, so I said yes, I thought it was fantastic and terrific. Then we met and we hit it off because we have the same sick sense of humor. It was a tough movie to make, but we had a lot of laughs along the way. There was a great sense of community and family on the film.”
“Movie people go back to the traveling vagabonds and roaming gypsies, we’re a troupe of players, we open up our trunks, we get the costumes out and the music, and we do our little pageant. That’s what drama has always done from the Greeks all the way to the Restoration Comedy to Shakespeare, it will reflect the time if it’s honest and worthy.   So the timeliness of this story is coincidental. Roland could have made The Scarlett Letter five years ago and it would have been timely because those issues never go away.”
“In a climate of a spate of movies about blowing up buildings and all of that, it’s nice to go and see a movie where the main underpinning theme is love and honesty, tenderness and kindness. It’s a good old-fashioned love story, and that’s refreshing.”