With a plethora of stunning performances in his career, including Dracula, Beethoven, Lee Harvey Osward, Sid Vicious, Batman’s crime-fighting ally Commissioner Gordon, and Harry Potter’s godfather, Sirius Black, Gary Oldman now adds another colorful character to the mix.
In Red Riding Hood he portrays Father Solomon, a werewolf hunter summoned by the people of Daggerhorn to kill the beast that has murdered one of their own. But his arrival just brings more turmoil as he warns everyone that the werewolf takes human form by day and could be any one of them.
The movie is directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) and co-stars Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) as Valerie, aka Red Riding Hood.
What intrigued you about this project?
I was intrigued that it was a darker twist on what was already a dark tale. As children, stories like Red Riding Hood were probably the first time we were conscious of fear. What lies in wait out there in the woods? In the hands of Catherine Hardwicke, we see it through a different prism.
Father Solomon brings a little bit of terror to the town, was that something that initially jumped out at you?
They don’t quite know what they hired, do they? I’m there to make it better, not worse. This is a fun character, it’s a fairy tale. I think it was a no-brainer really, I liked the script very much and I thought the character was fun.
How would you describe Father Solomon?
He’s a man possessed. But I don’t think of him as a villain. Rather, he has looked into the abyss and is now absolutely convinced of the righteousness of his mission. He truly believes he is the sword of God, and he has a flair for fashion. I thought I could have some fun with the role. It’s a fantasy so you can push the limits a bit with something like this. I viewed Soloman as very Shakespearean.
What’s your opinion about Catherine Hardwicke? She seems to have captured the vibe for targeting young audiences.
She’s had great success with teenage angst. I loved the movie Thirteen that she did, and then of course Twilight was just a world phenomenon. She captures a world, I think. She was an architect, and then a designer before she was a director, and I think she’s very good at conceptualizing something.
This movie looked like the movie long before the movie was shot. It was all drawings and sketches and the color palette, her production office was just wall-to-wall pictures. When I saw the movie, I wasn’t surprised, I thought, ‘Yeah, it looks like how she described it.’
When you were a child what was your favorite fairy tale?
I always liked the Three Little Pigs, ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!’
You rock in that purple clock you wear in this. Did you get to take it home?
No I didn’t. It looked nice, it’s a beautiful garment, but it weighed a ton and around 3:30 in the afternoon my shoulders would start to go. They printed up a t-shirt in fact with all the different quotes [from the cast], and there’s a section of my quotes, that said, ‘I hate my robe, I hate my armor, I hate my nails and I feel like I’m been shot out of a cannon.’ That’s just some of the quotes!
What was it like to work with Amanda? She said she could barely keep a straight face working with you.
The camera adores Amanda. Every time you see her on the screen you go, ‘God, look at that face.’ But we’d get to a situation where we were laughing about something and then you have to pull it together, and I would [have to say], ‘Just don’t look at me. I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll look at your forehead and you look at my ear, because I can’t look you in the eyes, because I won’t get through it.’ She was such a riot.
I would love to do a comedy with her. I’m known for my comedy, of course!
Are you set to put on the Commissioner Gordon uniform again in The Dark Knight Rises?
Yeah. [I look forward to putting on] my drab gray and beige costumes! I went to the production office the other day and of course there are all these fantastic pictures on the wall of Catwoman, and I said, ‘Where’s my wall?’ I don’t have a wall; I just have a rack of very, very dull clothes.
But I’m looking forward to working with the gang again, and the Academy Award winning Christian Bale. He’s not going to get my coffee any more, is he?
Harry Potter is finally coming to an end after ten years. What are your thoughts on the series?
I was saying this earlier, that it is a mind-bending achievement. It’s a phenomenon that it has been going for as long as it’s been going for. Ten years, and they pretty much kept all the cast, that is a feat unto itself.
These kids have gone through puberty and adolescence and there could have been drug addiction, there could have been all sorts of horrific things, but they kept all these kids and they all have their heads screwed on straight.
Who would have known at ten-years-old that Emma, Dan and Rupert would have had the chops to come all the way through and hold the screen for two and a half hours? I’m really hoping that [they have] the party of the century, a big bash [to celebrate the end of the franchise].