first_img Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour” in this undated handout photo. As he stepped into the role of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” Gary Oldman says the intention was to create a film about a pivotal period in the Second World War – reflections on a historic event with modern-day resonance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Focus Features, Jack English by Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press Posted Dec 8, 2017 12:04 pm PDT Last Updated Dec 8, 2017 at 12:40 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Gary Oldman had plenty of material to work with when he was preparing to play Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” given the former British prime minister’s well-documented skills as a political speechwriter and orator.But the acclaimed actor chose to take his inspiration from a moment that occurred far from the halls of Parliament.While researching the role, Oldman came across footage from 1941 of Churchill visiting with troops in Africa, sitting in a tent, uncharacteristically enjoying a beer, harkening back to his own time as a soldier.“He’s with comrades, people that he admires that are sort of out there in harm’s way,” Oldman explained during an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival where “Darkest Hour” screened in September. “He is alive and joking and he’s got this beer and he’s got this cigar … and they’re all sort of soaked in sweat. And he’s got this sort of sweaty hair combover and he’s having such a great time: alive, like electric. And he looked like a boy at Christmas, like a kid looking over at candy.”It was that version of Churchill that Oldman wanted to recreate in the film, which takes place during a crucial juncture of the Second World War with the threat of Nazi-led invasion looming.“He was cherubic and cheeky and naughty a sort of twinkle in his eye,” Oldman said. “That was Winston. Not a curmudgeon who walks like ‘Blah!’” sticking his tongue out. He was skipping around like a 30-year-old. That was the Churchill that I wanted. Dynamic.”While Oldman said the intention was to make a film about a pivotal period in the war, he hoped it would also have some modern-day resonanceMore than 70 years since the Allies triumphed over Hitler, 2017 has seen the vocal rise of far-right and white nationalist demonstrators in both the U.S. and Europe, most notably the white supremacist rally and deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va., in August.“We made a film about a very specific time five weeks, six weeks in a man’s life in a very, very crucial time,” said Oldman. “And if you removed Churchill from the scenario then who knows what the world would have looked like. If we had capitulated, Europe would have been very different, looked very different. So, he is sort of a necessary, essential figure in human history.“Here was a man, he was cornered, and the only alternative was a relationship with a dictator. And so, we made a film about a very specific moment in time not trying to make a topical film. But if it resonates then that’s a good thing.”Directed by Joe Wright, (“Atonement”) “Darkest Hour” illustrates 65-year-old Churchill’s unlikely ascension to power on May 10, 1940, as the Allied Forces are continuing to fall to Nazi troops and the entire British army is stranded in France.While facing revolt within his own party, Churchill must also contend with the external threat faced by the U.K. with threatened invasion by Hitler’s forces looming and 300,000 British soldiers cornered in Dunkirk. With the staunch support of his wife Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas), Churchill looks to the British people to inspire him to stand up against towering odds as he attempts to pull the nation together.Helping Oldman further transform into the role was wearing a foam body suit and the painstaking application of prosthetic makeup — a ritual that took 3 1/2 hours a day.“I think you have to surrender to it,” he said of the transformative process. “If you’re going to do something like this and you’re going to kick and scream, you will go insane…“You just focus and concentrate. But once it was all on, I loved it.”“Darkest Hour” is now screening in Toronto and expands throughout December.center_img Gary Oldman relishes historic role as Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’last_img