|The Dark Knight Rises|
It may seem strange to use an actor as someone that writers can learn from, but be patient, dear readers.
Gary Leonard Oldman (born 21 March 1958) is an English screen and stage actor, filmmaker, and musician. A Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court Theatre alumnus, Oldman’s many and varied film roles include: Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy, Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears, Clive 'Bex' Bissel in The Firm, Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's Dracula and George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; as well as prominent supporting roles including Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series and James Gordon in the Dark Knight trilogy. A popular portrayer of villains, he has played the antagonist of films like True Romance, Léon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, Air Force One, and The Contender. Aside from film acting, he played an acclaimed guest role in Friends, and wrote and directed Nil by Mouth.
Right, so by now you get it. Oldman is a brilliant actor. It took me quite a long time and many movies later to remember the name of the actor playing the above-mentioned roles. He played them so perfectly that I remembered the character, not the actor. Isn’t that how it should be?
Oldman never ‘plays the same’ in any of his roles. Chameleon-like, he fits on the skin of the character, and becomes that character in every possible way. Unlike big name stars like Tom Cruise (sorry, Tom!) and Will Smith (ditto) whose acting talents, unfortunately, have become bogged down by their glamour and fame, Oldman glides effortlessly from one persona to another.
Each time he adopts a character, he creates a unique, never-before seen persona. Even his villains have many layers and facets to make them absolutely credible.
As a writer, do you do the same?
- Are you recycling characters because it’s easier than getting under the skin of someone new?
- Is your feisty heroine the same as all the previous feisty heroines you’ve written or read about?
- Is your villain the same ‘Mwahahaha!’ mustache-twirling, evil-eye-glaring villain in all your books?
- Is your strong-jawed uber-heroic hero a carbon copy of his predecessors?
- Do you like certain scenes/elements/conflicts so much that you dust them off, change a few things, and then throw them into the plot?
|See? It's Tom on the poster. Can't miss him.|
But I don’t want to ‘have to’ suspend my disbelief. I want to just tumble into the story unfolding in front of me, be it on the screen or on the page.
So, once again, do you put in the extra work to get to grips with each character and create someone new and fresh? Or do you rehash the old stuff?