Gary Oldman savors memories of making (and watching) movies in Chicago

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Gary Oldman, as Winston Churchill, in a scene from “Darkest Hour.” | Jack English/Focus Features LLC

AsGary Oldman glanced out of the window of a Gold Coast hotel room, the recollections came rushing back.

“When I come back to this wonderful city, everything is a memory here — just looking out at that rooftop I see over there [pointing toward Lake Michigan], I recognize it,” the actor said with a smile. “We filmed all over this area for the [‘Batman’ films]. It was our Gotham. It was our home for two-and-a-half movies.”

Summer brought one of his favorite local memories for Oldman, who played Commissioner Gordon in the “Dark Knight” franchise. “A few cast and crew members packed up a picnic basket and went to Grant Park and watched ‘The Sound of Music’ on a huge screen they had set up. That was such a lovely evening watching that fantastic film. … It still holds up beautifully.”

The actor was in town to promote “Darkest Hour” (opening Friday) and his portrayal of Winston Churchill — “arguably the greatest Briton who ever lived.” Oldman said he would love to have met the iconic World War II leader and British statesman and asked him “about how he was able to never waver from his position about Adolf Hitler — from having visited Germany in 1932 and becoming clairvoyant about what was to come if Hitler was allowed to have his way. That position made Churchill unpopular with many, as pacifismwas so universal in the 1930s. After the horrors of World War I, many people thought, ‘Oh, my God! We can never endure another world war!’ ”

To capture the essence of Churchill, Oldman is seen drinking heavily in the film, though the actor has been on the wagon for several years and assures us “the booze was fake.” However, “one thing they didn’t skimp on was the cigars,” the actor added with a laugj. “I went through the equivalent of $20,000 worth of cigars, which certainly helped me get in character.”

Plus, as an actor, Oldman loved Churchill’s “sense of the theatrical. Of course it was in his speeches, but also the way he dressed. He was somewhat of a throwback to a Victorian dandy, with his choice of hats, the affectation of a cane, the fob watch and those button boots he wore.”


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