A good actor is nothing without a good director. And such was the electric duo of Gary Oldman and Joe Wright. The 2017 film Darkest Hour followed the historical figure of Winston Churchill in the May 1940 timeline. Now unpacking the vast and critical past was no easy feat, but being the skilled director he his along with Oldman, it did not take them much time to figure out the rhythm of the project.
Although the director initially expected the versatile actor to show his magic on the screen before giving out any direction, but later realized, that a little nudge was what Oldman needed to create one of the greatest pieces of work in cinematic history. Speaking on The Hollywood Reporter Director’s Roundtable, the director Joe Wright further elaborated on the topic.
Gary Oldman Wanted Close Direction for Darkest Hour
Gary Oldman‘s legendary status is a testament to his decades-long involvement in the industry. For him, acting is as natural as breathing, from the Harry Potter series to the Dark Knight, the actor has done it all. Thus, when it came to donning history’s one of the most significant characters, he completely immersed himself in the process. And like the rest of the world, the director Joe Wright was waiting for him to work his magic.
But as time progressed, the search for the missing tune became more challenging. That is where Wright came in, to put the project right back on track. While speaking on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Director’s Roundtable, he stated,
“One of the thing that surprises me when i met great actors is that they want direction.—You know Gary Oldman for me was a hero, like Harrison Ford was to you when I was growing up. And I thought ‘Well, I’ll just have–Gary will be on set an he’ll do his thing and I’ll just arrange everything around him’. And I actually did discover that someone like Gary wants direction.”
He also further shared the same sentiments in The Atlantic interview stating,
“I think Churchill was like a dog in the corner that was always there, and that Gary was always kind of turning away from. And yet, finally, he had to address it. I felt that maybe he’d be the kind of actor who’d do his thing and I’d arrange everything around him. And that didn’t sound great, but I was interested to have a front-row seat to Gary’s performance. And then what I discovered is that he’s an actor who wants direction, and so it became a very close collaboration. We made the film together, we walked through it together, and it was one of the most gratifying creative partnerships I’ve ever experienced.”
Ultimately, the masterpiece crafted through the collaborative genius of these two remarkable artists has garnered great acclaim, with critics and audiences showering it with praise.
How did Joe Wright Help Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour?
When asked about the specific guidance the director provided to the actor Gary Oldman and how he assisted him in finding the character’s essence, he replied elaborately. In the same interview, he stated,
“The rhythm of his character. I talk a lot about rhythm when I am directing. Film is more similar to music than any other art form. I am always almost conducting a scene so that they know where the rise is and where the falloff is, rather than talking about backstory and stuff like that, which I think is fairly useless.”
The director further delved into the topic of describing his own distinctive approach, shedding light on his unique perspective and how it manifested in his handling of this particular film. He said,
“And although I am not keen on method actors, I am a bit of a method director in the sense that I have to feel [the characters’] emotions and I have to identify closely with the character. Really those characters are always an expression of myself. So I tried looking for the similarities. Finding out how Churchill and I are the same? Ridiculous! But for me, the film is about self-doubt. And I just had an experience of extreme self-doubt and thought I was going to leave the industry.”
All in all, the combined efforts of this actor-director duo elevated the movie to great heights, garnering numerous accolades. Most notably a prestigious Academy Award for Best Actor was bestowed upon Oldman for his spectacular performance all thanks to Wright.
Darkest Hour is currently available on Netflix to stream.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter