Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) thinks his performance in the Harry Potter movies was "mediocre"

Gary Oldman drops behind-the-tidbits about some of his most famous roles, including Jim Gordon in the Dark Knight trilogy and Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films.
Gary Oldman In Conversation With Josh Horowitz: Apple TV+'s Slow Horses
Gary Oldman In Conversation With Josh Horowitz: Apple TV+'s Slow Horses / Dominik Bindl/GettyImages

The Harry Potter movies are huge facts of modern cinema, a beloved series that people will probably still be watching decades from now. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Alan Rickman as Snape, Maggie Smith as McGonagall...a lot of the performances are fixed in people's minds. Whether they're "good" or "bad" isn't really part of the discussion; they're iconic and cannot be gainsaid.

But the actors behind those characters may feel differently. Take Gary Oldman, who played Harry's uncle Sirius Black in the third, fourth and fifth movies. Speaking to Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Oldman had some reservations about his performance. “I think my work is mediocre in it,” he said. “Maybe if I had read the books, like Alan… If I had gotten ahead of the curve a bit—if I had known what’s coming—I honestly would have played it different.”

Somehow I doubt that make anybody second-guess their appreciation for Oldman's performance. It just goes to show that what we see onscreen and what the actors experience isn't always the same thing.

Gary Oldman was going to play a Batman villain before getting cast as Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight trilogy

The 2000s were a busy time for Oldman; not only was he playing Sirius in the Harry Potter movies; he was also Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Although the rumor has long been that Nolan was considering casting him as a Batman villain before making him one of Batman's most loyal allies.

That said, we never knew which villain Oldman was going to play. He has his suspicions. "I got a feeling it was Scarecrow," he said. "That was about the time when I was sort of thinking I’ve had enough of [playing villains]. I think it was my manager who suggested to Chris, 'What about Jim Gordon?' And, to his credit, Chris went, 'Hm, that’s interesting.' We met and that’s how it sort of came about. But I think it might be Scarecrow."

These days, Oldman is starring in the excellent spy drama Slow Horses, which just wrapped up its third season on Apple TV+.

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