Darkest Hour has brought Oscar gold for Gary Oldman.
After working for 36 years as well respected actor, Oldman finally won his first Academy Award for Best Actor on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, taking the prestigious achievement over fellow contenders Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.), and Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), for his turn as Winston Churchill.
“My deepest thanks to the Academy and its members for this glorious prize,” Oldman, who was previously nominated for his work on the 2011 drama Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, began his acceptance speech. “I’ve lived in America for the longest time and I’m deeply grateful to her for the loves and the friendships I have made and the many wonderful gifts it has given me: my home, my livelihood, my family, and now Oscar.”
Oldman continued to thank his collaborators on Darkest Hour and concluded, “I would just like to salute Sir Winston Churchill, who has been marvelous company on what can be described as an incredible journey, and my wife, Gisele, for traveling that road with me and being at my side… I would like to thank my mother who is older than the Oscar. She is 99 years young next birthday and she’s watching the ceremony from the comfort of her sofa. I say to my mother, thank you for your love and support. Put the kettle on, I’m bringing Oscar home.”
Backstage, Oldman spoke of the significance of his win, especially for this particular role. “It’s got a special, it feels like a special significance,” he said. “I can’t say what it would be like to win Oscar in any other year, but winning an Oscar for playing arguably one of the greatest Britons who ever lived, to win for playing Winston makes it doubly special.”
Oldman won the prize for his spirited portrayal of a real-life figure, with his soaring performance in the Joe Wright-directed film as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — at a crossroads during World War II, weighing the decision to negotiate with advancing Nazis or inspire the nation to stand firm against the impending threat — garnering significant critical and industry acclaim in recent months.
In the run-up to the 90th Academy Awards, Oldman won top acting honors on the 2017-18 awards circuit, bagging notable precursor victories at the Critics Choice Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, and the Golden Globes.
“With a fictional character, you can open your chest a lot more and be a little freer with it. There are certain parameters you have to work within because you’re playing someone who has lived,” Oldman told EW of his transformation into the historical icon. “What helped me enormously was the [old] footage of him, watching him and listening to him…. what I felt I needed [to fully transform] was him looking back at me in the mirror, and at least capture the spirit of him because I’m physically not like him.”
He continued: “The history and the reading helped enormously, and my admiration for the man was tenfold — not only what he was up against, but what the world was up against. If you remove Churchill from the scenario, how different our world might have become.”