“When I’m naked, I look like a bald chicken.”

That’s just one of several interesting bits in this profile of Gary Oldman, who used to be typecast as “the bad guy” in films like Léon: The Professional (1994) and Air Force One (1997), but has lately become more of a heroic father-figure type, thanks to his supporting roles as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies and as Lt. Jim Gordon in the current Batman movies.

I especially like the broader quote from which that line comes:

With his second turn as Batman ally Gordon in “The Dark Knight” Oldman, 50, feels as though he has finally broken ranks with the bad boys and put to rest his typecasting as a go-to guy when filmmakers needed a villain.

“No, I don’t hear it anymore. I mean look, Rolling Stone said, `Oldman is so skilled he makes virtue look exciting,'” Oldman said in an interview with The Associated Press, quoting the magazine’s review of “The Dark Knight” from memory. “You know what? That’s the best review I’ve ever had. … I’ll put that on my tombstone. `Makes virtue look exciting.’ That’s pretty good.

“In the past, I’ve had my share of good reviews, but it’s always the crazy, scary, weirdo guy. I don’t even know how it happened. Look at me. I mean, when I’m naked, I look like a bald chicken. How did I get to be a scary bad guy?”

I don’t know if I would call Oldman’s performance in the Batman movies “exciting” — it’s a bit too subtle and low-key for that — but his portrayal of a man trying to be noble and virtuous in an evil and cynical world certainly resonates on a pretty deep level.

And if both films have left me with a lump in my throat, it is partly due to how Oldman embodies his half of the Batman-Gordon relationship. “I never thanked you.” “And you’ll never have to.” Gets me every time.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).

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    Neatly complemented by, “Thank you.” “You don’t have to thank me.” “Yes, I do.”