Gary Oldman talks “Tinker, Tailor,” webs of intrigue, and the one actor he’d love to work with – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell Gary Oldman, appearing on Sirius/XM’s “The Opie and Anthony Show,” contemplated a question he likely has been asked before: “What was your favorite character?” Yet how does one choose from a body of work that spans decades and includes iconic characters that range from Sid Vicious to Lee Harvey Oswald, from Dracula to Sirius Black.

Oldman, being a good sport, talked about staying in character as Oswald or wanting to make a splash in the brief amount of screen time allotted for “True Romance.” But he confessed that his most recent turn as heady spy George Smiley in Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John le Carre’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” ranks as one of his all-time favorites.

And why not? It’s a stirring, forceful performance that’s showy in its restraint, and the less Oldman does with the chameleonic character, the more we’re impressed. As “Tinker” prepares to open in limited release and pick up awards steam, Oldman sat down with to discuss the process, and the cast members who impressed him the most. Here’s Gary Oldman: This struck me as an exercise in listening, as an actor. Do you appreciate that?

Gary Oldman: Oh, absolutely. And Smily is a great watcher, and a great listener. He listens with his whole body. He’s like a spider. I’ve always thought that. Not physically like a spider. But George is one of those people who is over here on the web, and then he gets a little twitch on the thread, and he acknowledges it, but he doesn’t have to run to get his dinner. He’ll take his time. I love that analogy. Was there ever a fear in the moment that you weren’t given enough.

Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah. There were a few times on the set where we’d do a scene and I had to maybe look in a certain direction and glance to a window, and Tomas would say to me, “Let’s, on this one, if you can maybe look to the window.” And I’d go, “I did!” [Laughs] It was small, you know? But you’ve got this wonderful camera that’s here [points at face], and it enables you to try and put across the smallest little flickers. Your co-star, Colin Firth, was speaking about “Tinker” affording him the opportunity to work alongside some legends he’d anticipated acting alongside. After your illustrious career, are there still actors you’d like to work with?

Well, it was great to work with these boys. And of course, John [Hurt] was an ambition. I mean, really, I had admired him for many, many, many years.

But I think I’d have to say that I’d like to work with Al Pacino. Very funny. Mr. Firth said Pacino also.

Did he say Pacino? Well, for my money, he’s the greatest living actor. I just think he’s amazing.

Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy” reaches select theaters on Friday, Dec. 9 before expanding in weeks to come.

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