Gary Oldman on seeing ‘Mank’ on the big screen: ‘There’s a point where you think you’re watching a film from 1940’

During a recent Zoom conversation moderated by Variety’s Jenelle Riley, Gary Oldman revealed he saw Netflix’s “Mank” on the big screen. The Oscar-winning actor (“Darkest Hour”) portrays Herman J. Mankiewicz, the “Citizen Kane” scribe, in the historical drama directed by David Fincher. The Netflix release is nominated for six Golden Globes and a dozen Critics Choice Awards. Oldman also contends at the SAG Awards for Best Actor.

“Jealous,” quipped Amanda Seyfried, who portrays actress Marion Davies, mistress to William Randolph Hearst, the inspiration for the title character in “Kane.” “It was playing four nights in a cinema very close to here,” Oldman explained. “So, it seemed crazy not to go.” Equipped with a mask, gloves and a hat, Oldman and his production partner Doug Urbanski joined the audience of 11.

“One fellow behind me was having a really, really good time,” Oldman noted. “On the big screen, there’s a point where you think you’re watching a film from 1940. “ And one that seemed shorter than watching in on a computer or television screen. “The movie felt 10 minutes faster,” he explained. “You got all the gags, all the lines. Of course, then the sound that [Fincher] gave it. To hear that in a big room-it was a real treat. There was this wow factor for me even though I was familiar with the film. But to see it like that and hear it in the cinema, it was really something.”

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Oldman got involved in the project via Urbanksi who had “sort of been in the wings, as it were, chatting it up with David. So, it wasn’t fully baked by the time it got to me, but it had been in the kitchen a while. Let’s put it that way.” And then he put it this way: “It’s like anything. You’re going along and you’re singing your song and this thing drops in and it changes. That’s the incredible thing about, I think, this thing what we do. We could be out of work. One day, there’s nothing on the horizon. And the next day, the phone rings and suddenly there’s a gig.”

He had known Fincher for a long time and had wanted to work with him, plus he was intrigued it was set during the Golden Age of Hollywood. “And then I read the script”- by Fincher’s late father Jack — “and it was one of the best I’ve read in a long time.”

Seyfried was taken by surprise when her agent informed her that Fincher wanted to play Davies in the movie. “It was just very exciting because, and I’ve said that this before, I didn’t know that he knew who I was. That to consider me, that was the win. That was the takeaway from the conversation I had with him. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a movie star who we don’t know really that much about and all the incredible people, like you guys, who he surrounds himself with-I mean it’s a dream.”

“I can’t believe you were surprised that David Fincher as unaware of your work,” noted Riley. “I like to image that he’s a big ‘Mean Girls’ fan.’” “We all know who you are,” Oldman said, jokingly.

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