Plenty of actors have gone through “transformations” to inhabit their characters, mostly when playing real people. Heck, Nicole Kidman put on a fake nose for The Hours and everyone freaked out. But Gary Oldman may take the cake for his upcoming turn as Winston Churchill, as the first image of the actor as British Prime Minister is nearly downright unbelievable. Oldman plays Churchill in Darkest Hour, a World War II drama from Atonement and Hanna filmmaker Joe Wright, and the first look at Oldman in full makeup is stunning. Seriously, I had to do a quadruple take to make sure we weren’t being fooled.
This is actually fitting for Oldman, whose uncanny ability to transform his accent from film to film has made him quite the chameleon over the years, and who looks to be undergoing his biggest makeover yet for Darkest Hour. The film takes place in the days following Churchill’s ascent to the Prime Minister role, as he must navigate testy waters to either negotiate a peace treaty with Nazi Germany or stand firm to his and his country’s ideals and fight—which includes convincing the public.
Wright made the leap to big budget blockbuster with Warner Bros.’ Pan last year to mixed results (I kinda liked it!), but Darkest Hour puts him firmly back in period piece territory where he’s soared before with films like Anna Karenina and Pride & Prejudice. He’s just coming off a bit of a palette cleanser by helming the “Nosedive” episode of Black Mirror Season 3, but with Darkest Hour he’s back in the movie world, working with screenwriter Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) and one hell of an ensemble cast.
Joining Oldman in Darkest Hour is Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI; John Hurt as Churchill’s successor Neville Chamberlain; Lily James as Churchill’s personal secretary; and Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife Clementine. It’s no doubt too early to get the Oscar train rolling for next season, but seeing as how Oldman only just landed his first nomination for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I’d say it’s prudent to shortlist him for a Best Actor nod in 2018.
Check out the Darkest Hour image below. The film opens in theaters on November 24, 2017.