Actor Gary Oldman made a personal appearance for the showing of his newest film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at the ‘talking pictures” event at The 23rd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs last Sunday afternoon. The event began with a viewing of the film and at the conclusion of the film Mr. Oldman joined Variety’s Timothy Gray for a one on one interview and a few questions from the audience.
According to Gary Oldman, the role of Smiley from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (played last by Sir Alec Guinness) just fell out the sky. He said he got a call from his agent saying “they want you to play Smiley.”
He stated, “Getting the phone call is great! And then the anxiety starts and I think that I am going to play a role, most associated with Sir Alec Guinness. But once I got on the set, all my anxieties evaporated. I did my homework, I was prepared.”
For preparation, Oldman said that he always went back to the book written by John le Carré. Fortunately for Oldman and the whole crew, le Carré was also available on the set. According to Oldman “John is like a jukebox. His mind is like a steal trap. He lives like he is a twenty-five year old. Put a coin in him, make a selection and he starts talking.”
As far as the cast of the film that included John Hurt, Toby Jones and Tom Hardy, Oldman called the cast “six degrees of Harry Potter. We were all in the series of films. I always loved John Hurt. And I felt like a young boy meeting him.”
But the tables were definitely turned when Tom Hardy told Oldman “I use to watch you as a kid.”
Oldman compares acting to a link in a chain “as actors we are all passing through. I try to teach the younger actors by example. I am prepared, I do my homework and I am always on time. You can’t waist people’s time.”
The shooting schedule for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy took a total of 58 days, which included location shots in Budapest and Istanbul. According to Oldman, the director Tomas Alfredson, was happy with one to two takes per shot. “Personally, I am a five-take guy. We always knew when he was happy.”
As far as the final product, Oldman concluded “I am proud to be associated with George Smiley. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has been so popular in England that it’s in the works to film “Smiley’s People.”
See here for my review of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones & no texting, please don’t talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don’t forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
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-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work on SilentHollywood.com