As police Lieutenant James Gordon, actor Gary Oldman is perfectly cast. It feels as though his role in this film fits nicely between incredible character performances is The Contender, JFK and Murder in the First and his more mainstream work in Air Force One, Lost in Space and more recently Harry Potter.
The first question obviously, is why Batman? “I have to say, I’m not a comic reader. I never read comics as a kid. Chris Nolan really. What he might do with it and the opportunity for someone like Chris to put to Batman franchise back on track really. To pull it back from where no man had gone before.”
Oldman agrees that after previous films, this seemed a very interesting choice for Christopher Nolan. “It is a surprise that he’d wanted to do something on this scale. My sources tell me that he really wanted to do this, and really courted it and went after it with a great passion. I don’t know if you direct Memento and Insomnia, you just get [given] Batman, I don’t think they just come knocking. I think you really have top have a vision for something like this and go after it. But I think it is surprising and that’ll make it interesting…hopefully.”
There were of course different challenges for Oldman here, as he was not the first actor to portray James Gordon. “No-one had been Sirius Black, so it was there for me to create it, and y’know hopefully make it wholly original”. Usually this character has been played by an older, and let’s face it, fatter actor. As Oldman laughs at the thought, he shrugs “He had to start somewhere.”
“I was surprised, cos I went online and there’s an enormous amount of stuff written. I was amazed at how detailed the bio is on Gordon. So I kind of went there, and then you’re pretty much working to the script. I mean, in a way its like any script, you have to stay within the framework of what is there. He’s pretty much there on the page”.
Taking the role at face value, Gary tried to keep it simple “This is Lt. Gordon in Chris Nolan’s Batman, and that’s my map. That’s the road map I take so doing a great deal of work outside of that to an extent is kind of redundant because there’s only so much that you can draw from that and apply it to what is on the page. Ultimately I’m playing Gordon in ‘Batman Begins'”.
The characters of Batman and Gordon have a very interesting relationship and chemistry is important if they are to be portrayed believably on screen. Oldman commented on this on screen partnership “We didn’t have a great deal of rehearsal or any time to cement it. Christian and I luckily hit it off and we enjoy working with one another and like one another so that’s primarily what we’ve taken and used and tried to infuse the script with. We enjoy one another’s company and hopefully that will translate and come through.”
When he discusses what we had previously seen on the live feed from the set, Oldman explains how difficult it is to act in these types of films. “This morning was hard because it felt a little cardboard, a little cartoonish, comic book, but that’s our source material, and were in a world y’know [where a] batmobile pulls up and out jumps a guy with a cowl and a big black cape and I’m taking it seriously.”
He says the role is surprisingly non physical. “It’s just a lot of questions (adopts Lt. Gordon persona) ‘Why did you want to do that? When are they gonna do it? How do you know? Really? God, that’s interesting. Do you think we’ll do it in time?’ (laughs) I catch keys, [I] catch a few bad guys. I mean it’s been quite a challenge. It’s nice to be a good guy for a change y’know? I’d normally be the guy that Batman’s after so it’s nice to be…..I’m Batman’s buddy in this (laughs)”
Oldman even lets slip that Gordon has a chance to do something that characters in this series don’t usually get, to drive the batmobile. “Only with the green screen, but I think I’m one of the few characters [who gets to drive it] so it’s a coup to be able to drive the batmobile. They may let me take one home.”