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Gary Oldman: 'I never thought I'd go near the role of Churchill'

The actor spoke about his career at the The Actors Centre's Off the Record series

Paul Clayton and Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman has spoken about how he couldn't see himself ever playing Winston Churchill, ahead of his appearance as the British Prime Minister in Joe Wright's movie Darkest Hour.

Speaking in conversation with Paul Clayton at The Actors Centre's conversation series Off the Record, Oldman explained how he originally dismissed the idea of playing the British wartime Prime Minister.

"Two and a half years ago when the role first came around, [I] laughed so loud," he explained, "I thought, 'Winston Churchill, are you kidding? Look at me!'... I thought no, I'll never go near it.

"Many consider him to be the greatest Briton ever, and there are all these people who have played him. It was the fear, and the anxiety of it.

Paul Clayton and Gary Oldman at Off the Record

"[The role] then came back …and it was a wonderfully written, and [the film would be] directed by Joe Wright. And I spent the next year saying 'I don't know what I've let myself in for'.

"We had ten weeks of rehearsal. I had not rehearsed since 1991 [during his stage career]. It was an absolute joy."

During the hour-long talk, Oldman explained that he went to audition at RADA at the start of his career and was told that he should think about "a new way of earning a living." He then auditioned successfully for Rose Bruford College.

The actor also spoke about how he is trying to raise funds to direct a new film. "I don't want to make another film for the sake of it," he explained, after saying he was aiming to gather £27 million for the movie. "[The cost is down to] the time it takes," he said. Oldman's debut as a director was the 1997 film Nil by Mouth, which starred Ray Winstone.

When asked what was on his bucket list, Oldman said he would love to perform in Terence Rattigan's play about a classics teacher, The Browning Version.

Off the Record is a series of talks with high profile actors and industry professionals hosted by Paul Clayton. Darkest Hour is due for release later this year.

For details of the next Off the Record head to The Actors Centre website.