It’s a double birthday special folks!
It’s been ages since I’ve done a birthday post. The last one I did was nearly a year ago was for Gabriel Byrne! Well, today happens to be the birthday of TWO of my favorite British thespians, Timothy Dalton and Gary Oldman! Born on March 21, fourteen years apart. Both are extremely talented, known for playing diverse roles convincingly, yet neither one has won an Oscar (what a travesty!). At least Oldman was nominated once for his role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Interestingly enough, both of them have played a British spy, though James Bond and George Smiley are on two opposite spectrum in terms of realism, though Dalton did strive to make Bond as grounded as possible.
So for this post, I’d like to celebrate their birthdays by posting five favorite roles from each actor. I’m throwing in TV miniseries as well for good measure.
NAME: Timothy Peter Dalton
BIRTH DATE: March 21, 1946 (Age: 67)
EDUCATION: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London
PLACE OF BIRTH: Colwyn Bay, Wales, United Kingdom
Personal Quote [on playing Bond]:
“You can’t relate to a superhero, to a superman, but you can identify with a real man who in times of crisis draws forth some extraordinary quality from within himself and triumphs but only after a struggle. Real courage is knowing what faces you and knowing how to face it.”
FIVE FAVORITE ROLES:
James Bond, The Living Daylights & Licence To Kill
Yes this one is entirely predictable, but can you blame me? I’ll always be a card-carrying member of the Dalton-Best-Bond brigade and make no apologies for it. I admire his dedication to the role, his determination to keep Ian Fleming’s vision in his portrayal, and ultimately, his top notch portrayal. I think the fact that he’s so grossly underrated makes me like him more. I think his fans care more about this than he does, he always comes across like he couldn’t care less what people thinks, naturally his Bond is the same way. I love his defiant remark after deliberately disobeying his boss’ order in The Living Daylights:
“Stuff my orders! I only kill professionals. That girl didn’t know one end of a rifle from the other. Go ahead. Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.”
Nevile Sinclair, The Rocketeer
If one looks up ‘charming villain,’ Mr. Sinclair’s face ought to pop up. He’s the quintessential seductive bad boy with delusions of grandeur. He’s channeling classic swashbuckling movie star Errol Flynn here and his performance is just so spot on. Effortlessly stealing the spotlight for the supposed lead actor Billy Campbell, really with a villain like Sinclair, who needed a hero?
Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre
The fact that Dalton could convincingly play someone who couldn’t be more different from each other is a testament of his incredible versatility. This is another role where a bunch of thespians have brought into life, but Dalton’s version remains my favorite. He showed such vulnerability as the ultimate Byronic hero with mercurial moods. I love that the 1983 Jane Eyre version stayed true to Charlotte Brontë’s novel, as Dalton delivered the lines so perfectly and with so much emotion. The proposal scene remains one of my favorite scenes of all time, in fact, I rewatched parts of it over the weekend and fell in love with his Rochester all over again. I’ve done a tribute of his performance in this post, so I invite you to check out some of the clips from that miniseries.
Eddie Myers – Framed
This 1992 British TV miniseries is so massively underrated you’d be lucky if you could even find the proper dvd to watch it! The only one available in the US is the Americanized version which is edited down to about half of the 4-hour version. I couldn’t even find any photos of him in that role, only this from the dvd cover but with him sporting that wet shirt, I’d think that’d suffice, don’t you? 😉
Dalton played a con-man turned informant in this crime thriller.Though production quality is far from stellar, I love the manipulation game between his character Eddie Myers and a young, ambitious police officer played by David Morrissey. You’ll be amused to see a very young Penelope Cruz in a small role as Dalton’s lover. There’s an exhilarating heist scene towards the end of the series that shows Dalton’s Bond-esque action prowess.
Someone made this clip on Youtube that’ll give you an idea what the show looks like:
Simon Skinner, Hot Fuzz
Dalton seems to enjoy playing bad boys. He relished at the opportunity to play a slimy supermarket owner, playing up the creep factor to the fullest, complete with thin, black mustache! Who says Dalton can’t be funny, his comic timing here is excellent! His super villain Simon Skinner paired with Simon Pegg as super cop Nicholas Angel adds up to massive hilarity, everything in this movie is intentionally over-the-top, but it works! He seemed to have a lot of fun with the role here, and he lights up the screen every time he came on screen.
Prince Barin – Flash Gordon
He kind of looks like Errol Flyn here again didn’t he? I’m surprised he hasn’t actually played Robin Hood in his career! I used to have such a huge crush on him as a kid, and I had no idea who his name was and that he was going to be Bond, I was like ‘who’s that dark haired prince??’ It’s another case where I couldn’t care less for the hero, I thought Flash Gordon looked like a blond Ashton Kutcher!
NAME: Leonard Gary Oldman
BIRTH DATE: March 21, 1958 (Age: 55)
EDUCATION: Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, London
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, United Kingdom
Personal Quote [on playing George Smiley]:
“George is a man of few words. He doesn’t need the karate and the fast car and the gun. That’s what makes George dangerous, is the fact that he does blend in and he disappears. He’s the one to watch. He’s the leopard camouflaged by the jungle, ready to pounce, so its nice to play someone like that. He operates from a very unseemly passive position.”
FIVE FAVORITE ROLES:
Norman Stansfield, The Professionals
As the pill-popping corrupt DEA agent, Oldman was psychotic perfection. He’s the quintessential dirty cop, practically an evil incarnate in the way he tormented Leon and Mathilda. Yet he’s still mesmerizing to watch as the character’s so driven by his madness. It’s the kind of performance that made your skin crawl, but one you won’t soon forget.
James Gordon, Nolan’s Batman Trilogy
It’s interesting that Christopher Nolan turned to an actor with a knack for playing bad guys for the role of a wholly decent cop, the only one left in the entire Gotham. It’s brilliant casting as another actor might make the character a boring decent cop, but not so with Oldman, Gordon is an intriguing character as the sole policeman the hero could trust, with his own share of dilemma as he’s torn between his loyalty to the force and his sincere desire to serve the city and its people. It helps that he’s got a great rapport with Christian Bale, too. Gordon made the role his own as he got to do more with the role than in previous films, complete with fun one liners. “I have to get me one of those,” he quipped as Batman rode away in his awesome Tumbler!
George Smiley, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Finally Oldman’s got an Oscar nomination! He could’ve easily nabbed at least several nods for his earlier roles. It’s another transformative role like he did as Ludwig Von Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, where he’s practically unrecognizable playing a much older character. It’s what I’d call the anti-Norman Stansfield as there’s nothing over the top about his understated performance as the cool, composed and astute British spy. He’s NOT a super spy mind you, just a very good one and his grounded performance worked as he anchored the whole film. Even amongst a stellar British cast, Oldman still stands out far and above the rest.
Count Dracula, Bram Stoker’s Dracula
When Fogs asked about favorite movie monster this past week, I immediately thought of Oldman’s role in as as Count Dracula. He’s a monster to be sure, but yet he’s quite romantic with an elegant swagger, plus he’s got such scorching chemistry with Winona Ryder. He’s seductive yet utterly terrifying prince of darkness that it could easily be one of the best Dracula ever. He looks good in period garb as well, ok so maybe the princess Leia hairdo is a bit tough for anyone to pull off, but I like his long, dark, wavy locks under that top hat.
Sirius Black, Harry Potter series
I was torn between putting Beethoven or Sirius here as I love both performances. I do love the father/son relationship between Sirius and Harry and also because there’s a dualism in him. We don’t know whether he’s a good or bad guy, perhaps both, and an antihero is always an interesting character. He’s sporting that long, dark, wavy locks again that suits him so well. Of course what he did to save Harry in the Deathly Hallows made me like him more. It’s no surprise he’s one of my top 10 favorite Harry Potter characters.
Beethoven, Immortal Beloved
This seemed a tailor-made role for Oldman, playing a mad musical genius. It’s a travesty that Oldman wasn’t nominated here as he not only transformed himself physically for the role, he also captured the composer’s inner turmoil, passion and madness. The scenes of him going deaf is heart-wrenching, it’s as if we could feel his world turning silent.
Check out my previous individual tribute post for each: