Lynn Hirschberg: After living in America for 20 years, was it difficult to be very, very British in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy?
Gary Oldman: The weird thing is, I had to do a bit of voice work to get my English accent back. I’ve not really lost my accent completely, but it is now a cross-pollination. It came back quickly. The weather of England is in me—I will never lose those clouds and gray skies.
You’ve said the key to playing Smiley is the eyeglasses.
Yes—Smiley and his glasses go together like Bond and his Aston Martin. I saw Smiley as a wise owl, and my search for the right spectacles was important. He’s getting on—he’s in his mid-50s, he’s forced to retire, and his wife has left him—but he still wants to tiptoe toward the new world. It’s the seventies, and he cheers himself up by wearing these glasses. He thinks they may help him get his wife back.
Brad Pitt says that you die better on film than any other actor. What’s the key to a great death scene?
Practice. I’ve died more than anyone. I’ve been hanged, blown to smithereens, decapitated, and had my genitals cut out. I think the worst death was in Hannibal, where I was eaten by wild boars. My favorite death was in State of Grace. I kind of fold. That was quite lovely.
Styled by Patrick Mackie. Grooming by Erica Sauer for Dior Homme at Exclusive Artists.