An Oscar for Oldman’s Churchill

An Oscar for Oldman’s Churchill
Photo: Collection Christophel/Alamy Stock Photo
Gary Oldman, who spent hours in the makeup chair each morning to be transformed into Churchill, won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Normally we’d say give that man a cigar—but he’s had quite a few already. Last night Gary Oldman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his stirring portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill in the film Darkest Hour. Cigars were everywhere in the movie and Oldman puffed thousands of dollars worth of stogies during the filming.

“I was on about 12 [cigars] a day,” he said during an interview on "The Graham Norton Show." “I went through about $30,000 of cigars on the set.”

Churchill, of course, was one of history’s most prolific and famous cigar smokers, and method actor Oldman puffed away constantly to bring Churchill to the big screen. A cigar, in fact, is the first thing we see in Oldman’s opening scene as the great British statesman, as he lights a cigar in bed. The room is dark, and the match is the only light at first. Then the tip of the cigar glows to life, revealing a barely recognizable Oldman, who spent hours in the makeup chair each morning to be transformed into Churchill. (Makeup artists Kazuhiro Tsuji, Lucy Sibbick and David Malinowski also won Oscars for their work turning Oldman into Sir Winston).

Darkest Hour shows Churchill as he is named Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the early days of World War II. France is about to fall to the German army and British forces are being driven to the sea at Dunkirk. Members of the British government are pressuring Churchill to sue for peace, but he stands firm, becoming the leader who is admired around the world. Cigar smokers, in particular, are fond of Churchill, and his cover from Autumn 1993 was recently named the most popular Cigar Aficionado cover of all time

Last night’s victory was the first Oscar for Oldman, which he called “this glorious prize.” In his acceptance speech, he thanked friends, family, coworkers and more, and even had some words for the great man of history he portrayed.

“I would just like to salute Sir Winston Churchill, who has been marvelous company on what can be described as an incredible journey.”