Gary Oldman Shocks Fans With Reveal That Blockbuster Movies Saved Him

By Britta DeVore | Published

Gary Oldman is recognized around the world as one of the most established actors of our time. Nabbing awards including Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes, it will likely come as a shock to many that his roles in titles such as Darkest Hour and Friends aren’t at the top of his list when it comes to the performances that “saved” him. During a guest appearance on an episode of The Drew Barrymore Show, the Hollywood icon revealed that he owes his deepest thanks to the blockbuster franchises Batman and Harry Potter.

Gary Oldman Forced To Turn Down Roles

The gratitude that he feels towards his supporting work in these films can be boiled down to one thing – his ability to be both an attentive father as well as a financial supporter. As Gary Oldman told Drew Barrymore, he gained custody of his sons when he was 42 years old and, while he was overjoyed, the court-granted rights put a wedge between his career and his duties as a parent. As he put it, “a lot of productions were being [filmed in] Hungary, Budapest, Prague, Australia, you know, all of these places. So, I turned down a lot of work.”

Harry Potter And Batman Roles Allowed Him More Free Time

And, that’s when Gary Oldman says, his roles as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter franchise and James “Jim” Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy presented an opportunity to do both. While they may not have been the biggest roles of his lifetime, Oldman says that both Harry Potter and Batman gave him much more wiggle room for spending time with his sons while also doing “the least amount of work for the most amount of money.”

The Perfect Schedule

Giving an example of what that meant for the Batman series, Gary Oldman says that he was able to plan his trips between London (where the feature was filming) and Los Angeles as Christopher Nolan “stayed on schedule.”

Taking almost 30 trips back and forth between the countries on the first film in the installment, Batman Begins, he said that he would be able to shoot for a day or two and then have a few days of breaks, giving him quality time with his kids. 

A New Generation Discovers Gary Oldman Thanks To Harry Potter

Although he didn’t give specifics on how his time between the United States and England shook down during The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, the following films in Christopher Nolan’s celebrated trilogy, it would seem likely that the same could be said for Gary Oldman’s travel schedule. Meanwhile, his role as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter franchise launched his career to new heights, gaining an entirely fresh audience.

While an older generation may remember Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious in Alex Cox’s classic drama, Sid and Nancy, Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s JFK, or the titular bloodsucker in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the actor’s appearance in the Potter films brought his face to a new generation.

It certainly helped that he played one of the most beloved characters in the book series, a somewhat father figure to the orphaned Harry Potter. With Batman Begins arriving one year following his first turn in The Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s easy to see how these money-making films saved Oldman’s career.

Gary Oldman’s Recent Work

Most recently, Gary Oldman re-teamed with his Batman director Christopher Nolan for the filmmaker’s summer hit, Oppenheimer, and can currently be seen on Apple TV+’s series, Slow Horses.