Personal detailsName: Gary Oldman
Born: 21 March 1958 (Age: 56)
Where: London, England
Awards: Won 2 BAFTAs
All about this star
When the producers of The Prisoner Of Azkaban, the third in the massively popular Harry Potter series, were casting for their main villain, they had a major problem. The man who would be Sirius Black needed the requisite pedigree to stand alongside the weighty likes of Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. He needed sufficient charisma to carry off the movie's final revelation. And, of course, as the titular prisoner, possible killer of Harry's parents, possibly now after Harry himself, he needed to project a frightening phantom menace from the shadows. Let's consider this for a moment. British . . . stage actor . . . impressive CV . . . charismatic . . . terrifying. It simply had to be Gary Oldman.
Having "arrived" in the mid-Eighties as part of a Brit Pack including Tim Roth and Daniel Day-Lewis, it was Oldman who led the way, mastering American accents and starring in American films. Like Streep and De Niro, he was known as an actors' actor. He didn't limit himself to "serious" roles, yet no matter how fantastic the movie's premise, he would always bring something serious, something real, something intelligent to the party. He was always watchable. And what performances he delivered - as Sid Vicious, Joe Orton, Beethoven, Dracula, Lee Harvey Oswald, the vicious Alcatraz warden in Murder In The First, the lunatic pimp in True Romance, the endlessly corrupt copper in Leon. Once seen, never forgotten. This is always the way with Gary Oldman.
He was born Leonard Gary Oldman on the 21st of March, 1958, his family living in Hatcham Park Road, close to New Cross Gate station in one of south London's rougher areas. His mother was an Irishwoman named Kathleen, his father was Len, a former sailor who'd toiled in the engine-room (and was later a welder and pipe-fitter), the couple having met in Cardiff during World War 2.
Gary had two sisters, much older than himself. They would help Kathleen in raising the boy, and also provide him with a far wider education than is usual. When he was 5, one of them, at the time a teenage mod, would take him to the Sombrero Club and have him perform for her friends. "What have cowboys got?", she would ask. He would cry, not wishing to give the required answer, but the question would be repeated until he blurted out "Big bollocks!" and the in-crowd fell about laughing.
This could still be described as fun. But the fun did not last for long. When Gary was seven, Len left Kathleen for a younger woman and it hit the young boy hard. Though he didn't know it then, therapy years later would reveal that he blamed himself for his father's departure and missed the man terribly.