Actors: Gary Oldman

You know what I like about Gary Oldman? He can act.

This may seem obvious to you, to say an actor can act, but not all of them can. In fact, the more of a star you become, the less of an actor you generally are. (I know; I've worked with my share of both actors and stars. There is a distinct difference.)

I have not had the pleasure of working with Mr Oldman. But I always enjoy seeing him in a movie, whether as a lead or in a supporting role. Gary Oldman is actually capable of being more than one person, more than one kind of person or character, and that's what makes him a fantastic actor. He, you know, does the job. He can be funny; he can be the straight man; he can be the all-out, over-the-top villain, or just the bad guy who thinks he's doing the right thing; he can be the quiet one . . . Love-lorn vampire prince? Check. Wizardly godfather/mentor who can transform into a big dog? Got it. Beethoven and Sid Vicious? Uh-huh. Drab ex-MI6 agent? Yup. Drab police commissioner for Gotham City? ::nodding:: Various space cases such as Zorg and Dr Smith? Pimp? Russian terrorist? Yes, yes, and yes! Always believable in whatever role he inhabits. He's amazing.

Stars, by contrast, tend to go from being actors to being a "type." Once they start using you as a pitch archetype, it's pretty much all over. If I were to say, "We'd need a Tom Cruise type for this role," you'd know exactly what I mean. Or a "Matt McConaughey type" (though he's working to break out of that) or a "Bruce Willis type" or whatever. These are more than big names with big paydays (stars), they are actors that have found a niche and have been more or less consigned to playing the same kinds of characters and roles again and again. They are a cinematic shorthand so that audiences know, going in, exactly what to expect of the movie they are about to see. It makes them safe bets for studios but really boring in the long run. It makes one wonder whether the stars are incapable of wider range or simply too lazy to do anything different.

What you don't hear in pitch meetings is "a Gary Oldman type." Because no one knows what that is.* He's all kinds of types and people, he's all over the map, because he's an actor. And that's fucking awesome.

*Here is what would happen if someone pitched "a Gary Oldman type":
Studio Exec: Gary Oldman in what? Batman Gary Oldman?
Producer: No, I'm thinking more like Dracula Gary Oldman. (to writer) That's what you mean, right?
Director: No, no, that—what kind of bullshit is that? That doesn't even make sense! This is True Romance all the way.
Hell, I'd say it in a meeting just to watch them argue over it. That'd be fun.

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