“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” star Gary Oldman let his mind run wild in a new interview with Playboy. The long chat is winning Oldman both praise and ridicule.
One one hand, he applauds shows like “True Detective” and “Mad Men,” while also ripping apart reality TV. While those thoughts are shared by many, it’s his defense of Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin and discussion of calling Nancy Pelosi the C-word that are rubbing some the wrong way.
The entire interview is worth reading. However, you can take a look at some of the best bits below.
On the best and worst of TV
“It’s like the old saying about mediocrity: The mediocre are always at their best. They never let you down. Reality TV to me is the museum of social decay. And what passes for music — it’s all on that plateau. Who’s the hero for young people today? Some idiot who can’t f***ing sing or write or who’s shaking her a** and twerking in front of 11-year-olds.
“I have two teenage sons and they occasionally turn me on to stuff — Arcade Fire, hip-hop or whatever. I go, “Wow, that’s interesting.” And I do watch television. I’m a huge fan of long-form TV. ‘Mad Men.’ I loved ‘True Detective’; Matthew McConaughey gets better and better. ‘Boardwalk Empire’, ‘The Americans’, ‘House of Cards’ — Oh God, I loved it. It makes me want to create a show and sit back and get all that mailbox money.”
On ‘Con Air’
“I remember the flight deck was on a sound stage and there was a big sign that said NO DRINKING, NO SMOKING AND NO EATING ON SET. At one point I looked over and Harrison was in the doorway beneath the sign with a burrito, a cigar and a cup of coffee, which I thought was hilarious. I could never get the image out of my head. Nowadays we would take out an iPhone and post something like that on Instagram.”
On working with Francis Ford Coppola and Christopher Nolan
“Well, Francis is a hero of mine. He’s arguably the best American director but also a brilliant writer. Many people forget he won an Academy Award for the screenplay for ‘Patton.’ I recently watched ‘The Conversation’ again and couldn’t believe how it stands up. I always tell students who want to be writers or directors that first on their list of what to watch should be ‘The Godfather: Part II’, because in terms of camera, lighting, cinematography, composition, production design, costume, storytelling, writing and acting, it’s flawless. It’s a master class in filmmaking from soup to nuts.
“We didn’t always see eye to eye on ‘Dracula’, but I have enormous respect for him. He’s very forceful and lets you know exactly what he thinks. Chris Nolan is more about giving you really good notes. On ‘The Dark Knight’ he’d do a take and then say something like ‘There’s a little more at stake.’ Francis will shout at you during the take, ‘There’s more at stake! You love her! No! Love her more than that!’ He’s like D.W. Griffith.”
On goth fans who love him for ‘Dracula’
“I used to have this little office on Melrose, and people would come and try to find me. An attractive young woman came in one day with a tattoo of Dracula on her breast and wanted my signature over it. Then she went and had my autograph tattooed. I was cool with that.”
On Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe
“I remember being at a dinner many years ago in New York with Arthur Miller. I was sitting next to him. After we loosened up with a few glasses of vino, I turned to him and said, ‘Do you ever walk down the street and just stop and go, ‘F***, I was married to Marilyn Monroe’?’ He went, ‘Yeah.'”
On overcoming alcohol addiction
“The secret is you have to want to stop. They talk about 12 steps if you go through the program, but the only one you have to do perfectly is the first, which is to acknowledge that you have a problem and that your life is unmanageable. It’s a horrible thing to be in what people call ‘the disease.'”
On the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman
“You can try, but you can’t stop someone, no. You have to want to do it for yourself. That’s the only way. I had heard he had run-ins with heroin and booze and things, so it wasn’t a total surprise. Tony Scott committing suicide knocked me sideways. That floored me, as did Heath Ledger. All those ridiculous stories about him being so in the character of the Joker was certainly not the person I knew. That’s sort of ludicrous, people blurring the lines and not understanding. There’s a lot of rubbish talked about acting, and it’s often propagated by practitioners of it. You just want to say, ‘Oh, shut up.’
“Even when you’re working closely with people, you don’t really know what they’re like at home. On the outside someone like Philip Seymour Hoffman appeared to be happy professionally. He had kids; he was working with interesting people. But one never really knows. What eventually happens is you put the drink or the drug before everything else. There’s no argument about how good he was, but who knows what was going on inside? I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but maybe he looked in the mirror and always saw that very pale sort of fat kid. It’s a real tragedy for his family.”
On what he’s learned after four marriages
“Look, relationships are very, very hard. They just are. I mean, four times! I’m not proud to say it. One of them was for 10 minutes. I don’t think it meant very much to either of us. What can I say about marriage? I don’t know. It’s all been a bit of a disaster in that area. I have very good artistic instincts, often right on the money. Love, not so successful. But you know, if someone says, ‘Here’s a script. Now you’re Beethoven,’ that I can do.”
On what’s fun about being rich
“I once parked my Porsche in George Clooney’s garage while I was away. I said thank you and he said, ‘It’s no inconvenience. It always makes me look good if I have two Porsches.'”
On Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin
“He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things. We’re all f***ing hypocrites. That’s what I think about it. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word n***** or that f***ing Jew? I’m being brutally honest here. It’s the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy. Or maybe I should strike that and say ‘the N word’ and ‘the F word,’ though there are two F words now.
“Alec calling someone [homophobic slur] in the street while he’s p****ed off coming out of his building because they won’t leave him alone. I don’t blame him. So they persecute. Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him — and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough. He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know? But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, ‘That f***ing kraut’ or ‘F*** those Germans,’ whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone, that we all stand on this thing going, ‘Isn’t that shocking?'”
On comedians getting away with things others can’t
“If I called Nancy Pelosi a c*** — and I’ll go one better, a f***ing useless c*** — I can’t really say that. But Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can, and nobody’s going to stop them from working because of it. Bill Maher could call someone a fag and get away with it. He said to Seth MacFarlane this year, ‘I thought you were going to do the Oscars again. Instead they got a lesbian.’ He can say something like that. Is that more or less offensive than Alec Baldwin saying to someone in the street, ‘You f**’? I don’t get it.”
On the Golden Globes
“I know it certainly doesn’t mean anything to win a Golden Globe, that’s for sure … It’s a meaningless event. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is kidding you that something’s happening. They’re f***ing ridiculous. There’s nothing going on at all. It’s 90 nobodies having a wank. Everybody’s getting drunk, and everybody’s sucking up to everybody. Boycott the f***ing thing. Just say we’re not going to play this silly game with you anymore. The Oscars are different. But it’s showbiz. It’s all showbiz.”