Gary Oldman is not usually intimidated by roles. He's been in massive franchises like Harry Potter and he won an Academy Award for his performance in Darkest Hour. So when David Fincher asked him to portray Herman J. Mankiewicz, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, Oldman was excited.
But when he sat down with Fincher, he received an odd request...
The movie, Mank, follows Mankiewicz as he battles personal demons and overcomes professional obstacles in the pursuit of finishing the screenplay for Citizen Kane.
This is a period piece to be shot in black and white, so Oldman assumed that there would be some hair and makeup to change his appearance, but Fincher said, "No." He wanted Oldman to look natural.
Gary Oldman in 'Mank'Credit: Netflix
“I thought, ‘Oh, fucking hell!’,” Oldman told Empire. “I can’t remember the last time I did that. I’ve always got something! I was thinking, ‘I don’t know about that.’ I don’t look anything like Mank.”
Oldman continued, “There’s a similarity with [Tom Burke as] Welles and Amanda Seyfried kind of looks like Marion Davies, and you’ve got this pale make-up on Charles Dance, so he resembles [William Randolph] Hearst. But I didn’t have anything I could anchor to. Then, once we started, I thought, ‘Yeah, Dave was right.’ No tricks. No nothing. Just: here it is. I’ve embraced it.”
You could see why Oldman wanted a little help in that department, just to look like a star, not only for making things feel real but also because he was so used to it from other movies. But Fincher wanting him to go forward without makeup is also interesting from a director's standpoint. I think the idea of a movie about stress and worry makes having someone whose features are not altered more convenient. You can shoot him from any angle and you don't have to hide any wig lines or prosthetics.
Mank has yet to get a release date on Netflix, but most people assume it will be this fall to make an Academy Awards push.
Are you excited about Oldman's makeup-less face? Let us know in the comments.