Gary Oldman Talks About 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'
Gary Oldman's performance inTinker Tailor Soldier Spy, something the critically acclaimed actor should be used to dealing with at this point in his career. The film, based on John LeCarre's bestselling novel, features an impressive cast, with Oldman's character ('Smiley') at the center of the story.
Oldman never lacks for work and at the LA press day for the Focus Features film, he explained what drew him in to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. "I knew who the character was. I'm old enough to have seen the series. He's like an owl, George. He's got those big eyes behind those specs. He sees everything and hears everything. It's nice to play a character like that. It's nice to be the smartest man in the room. Often I play characters that think they're smart but they're not very smart. He's so poker-faced. He's just like a sleeping volcano. He's there but it's all underneath."
And Oldman revealed that if the opportunity arises, he's willing to slip back into the role again. "I think they're seriously now talking about it," answered Oldman when asked about the possibility of a sequel.
Oldman says the same team would return and he even knows which novel the studio work on next: "Smiley's People, with probably a slight cross pollination of Honorable Schoolboy. But I think it would be Smiley's People."
"I kind of miss George," added Oldman. "He was very good for my blood pressure."
"I just think it's probably good material," said Oldman on the script. "I always say if you break a sweat, you're working too hard. This is not only a good script, but it's also supported by the book and the paring down of this piece. Obviously we had to throw a lot of pages out. Tomas [Alfredson] has condensed something into, one, a composition, four lines and a look, but you feel that you've got the support, the subtext. You bring the book with you everyday. It's rare."
How does Oldman know if a script will have him "breaking a sweat"? "Because a script is like your emotional map of the world, and often with bad writing you're being asked to make sort of jumps and leaps," explained Oldman. "Lines don't flow. There's inconsistency in it and you're making it work. You're working very hard to make it work. And when you get something that flows, it's like working on [Arthur] Miller or [David] Mamet. You know that you're supported by it. You're not fighting it. It takes you."
Given that the film is complex web that had to have spun together in exactly the right edit to make it work, Oldman said that as an actor all he could do was trust the director and editor. "You have to. I mean, there was some work that I noticed that he had done from things that had changed slightly from the script to the edit, what they shuffled around and moved around in the edit. But a great deal of it was in the script and in Tomas' head. What I saw on the screen was pretty much how he discussed it and walked you through it. There wasn't hours of footage and all the other stuff in the wings that he shot and then cut. He's very decisive. I'll give you an example. Towards the end of the film and I'm in that house and we're all zeroing in on the mole, there's that sequence where I take the mint and I listen to them arriving. There is no other footage that he shot of feet and hands and briefcases and cars pulling up. I said, 'Well, aren't you going to shoot some other stuff there?' He said, 'No. I'm just going to shoot it on you and I'll put the sound FX on there of them arriving.' I said, 'Yeah, but you'll cutaway to something.' He said, 'No. I'll play it on you.' I mean, you're only there the once, do you know what I mean? This is an indie. This is not a movie that you kind of go away and then you kind of cut it and then you put it together and then the studio will give you another twenty million, another ten million to go back and do re-shoots and things and then you think, 'God. I was there. I wish that I had that material.' So, you have to really trust someone like Tomas, that the atmosphere and all of that will be there."