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The seven strangest faces of Gary Oldman.

The seven strangest faces of Gary Oldman. (photo)

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When I first saw the trailer for “The Book of Eli,” I thought “Wow, that bad guy looks familiar, but I can’t place him.” It was irritating. Then I looked it up and realized it was Gary Oldman, and the reason I didn’t recognize him is because we almost never see his real face. Almost certainly one of the most talented actors in the world today — one of the few who doesn’t make radical transformations for a role as a stunt — Oldman keeps himself fresh precisely because it’s sometimes hard to remember what he looks like when you take off all the makeup and facial fair. His makeovers are like no one else’s. Here’s seven of his strangest:

Drexl Spivey, “True Romance” (1993)

Even people like me who don’t like “True Romance” too much — Tony Scott amps up Tarantino’s worst aspects, though Tarantino himself was a big fan — have to bow before the flawless conceit of Oldman as a dreadlocked pimp and all-round bad guy speaking some kind of accent only he thinks is right and discoursing on the genius of “The Mack.” Tarantino’s received much (understandable) flack for his unapologetic co-opting of African-American culture and loaded epithets; Oldman’s genius, for once, gives him a plausible white stand-in with the same issues, equal parts convincing and ridiculous. (It goes without saying this is NSFW.)

Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, “The Fifth Element” (1997)

Luc Besson’s super-expensive pièce de résistance — all $80 million is on-screen — if you’re going to make the most expensive film in French history (to date, anyway), this is the way to do it. But giving all the special effects a run for their money is Oldman: half his head is shaved and covered by a translucent plate, the other half is a slicked-over cowlick, and the voice is an unlikely tribute to H. Ross Perot.

Buford Dill, “Nobody’s Baby” (2001)

This is an obscure vehicle in which Gary Oldman and Skeet Ulrich are given equal billing, which speaks for itself. (Direct to DVD? Indeed.) The real story, apparently, is Oldman as one “Buford Dill,” a criminal with mutton chops tucked beneath a cowboy hat. The plot apparently involves Oldman and Ulrich taking care of a baby rescued from a car crash while the quirky denizens of the local trailer park help out. Below, watch Oldman do a weird little dance on someone’s lawn; if you stick it out to the end of the movie, apparently you get to see Oldman and Mary Steenburgen line-dancing. Maybe I should rent this.

Mason Verger, “Hannibal” (2001)

In the original theatrical release of “Hannibal,” Oldman isn’t even in the credits; depending on who you believe, that’s either because he threw a violent hissy-fit when his request to be equally billed alongside Julianne Moore and Anthony Hopkins was denied, or (according to him) a tacit acknowledgment of his shape-shifting ways. Either way, with a violently mauled face that would render anyone unrecognizable, Oldman camps it up in one of the few true guilty pleasures I have. This is a movie so fearsomely inept that it uses the “Goldberg Variations” as Hannibal’s motif, “The Blue Danube” as Verger’s, and simply plays them both at the same time when they meet.

Rolfe, “Tiptoes” (2003)

The legendarily misguided “Tiptoes” stars Matthew McConaughey as the only person in his family who isn’t a dwarf, causing all kinds of angst about how to break the news to fiancée Kate Beckinsale (playing Jewish!) and concern whether he should extend the family tree. Oldman shrinks to play a little person, or rather the entire performance has the actor kneeling with prosthetics. For once, the effort may not have been worth it. Not because he isn’t convincing (when isn’t he?), but because we’re supposed to believe he’s McConaughey’s twin brother.

Commissioner Gordon, “Batman Begins” (2005)/“The Dark Knight” (2008)

In the life imitates art category: correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t really remember Gary Oldman rocking a thick, plushy mustache before the Batman franchise was rebooted. In my mind’s eye, a recognizable Oldman is basically an Oldman without facial hair, whether he’s a British soccer hooligan or Lee Harvey Oswald. But after the Batman movies, you can see him rocking Gordon’s thick ‘stache extracurricularly on a regular basis. Or maybe the fact that he wore it to “The Book of Eli”‘s premiere speaks to his commitment to a third Batman film. Surely, you don’t think Oldman would be so shameful as to use a fake mustache?

Gary Oldman, “Greg The Bunny” (2002)

Okay, so this is Oldman as himself (although even that’s kind of disorienting), but it’s too good to leave off. This is the best “Hamlet” audition you’ll ever see.

[Photo: “The Book of Eli,” Warner Bros., 2010.]

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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