English character actor of the stage and screen. He broke into the UK film scene in the 1980s, playing the role of Sid Vicious in Alex Cox's biopic Sid and Nancy (1986). In the 1990s Oldman gravitated towards US-based productions, including playing Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK (1991), the title role in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), and a corrupt police officer in Luc Besson's Léon (1994). He gained international acclaim for his debut as writer-director with the raw, London-set study of domestic violence Nil By Mouth (1997).
In the 1980s Oldman began working with such leading directors as Mike Leigh, in Meantime (1983; for television), and Stephen Frears, in Prick Up Your Ears (1987). In the late 1990s Oldman became increasingly known for his roles as unhinged villains in big-budget Hollywood films such as Air Force One (1997) and Lost in Space (1998). Some of his roles have tended towards caricature, notably in True Romance (1993), The Fifth Element (1998), and Hannibal (2001). He had strong supporting roles as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter adaptations Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), and as police officer James Gordon in the Batman adaptations Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).
His performance in Romeo is Bleeding (1994) included a convincing American-accented voiceover narrated by his untrustworthy protagonist, and is one of several examples in his work of a willingness to experiment in his performances.