Gary Oldman Got Candid About How Harry Potter & Batman Paychecks “Saved” Him

“I could do the least amount of work for the most amount of money.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08: Gary Oldman attends a conversation about Apple TV+'s "Slow Horses"...
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Prior to landing the fan-favorite role of Sirius Black in 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gary Oldman’s career was at an inflection point. “At 42 years old, I woke up divorced and I had custody of [my] boys,” he explained on a recent episode of The Drew Barrymore Show.

Because film studios shifted productions to such overseas locations as Hungary, Budapest, Prague, and Australia (“for tax reasons,” as Barrymore put it), Oldman made a “hard” decision and “turned down a lot of work” to meet the demands of being a single father to his middle two sons, Gulliver and Charlie, with ex-wife Donya Fiorentino.

“Thank God for Harry Potter,” he said, before also referencing his role as Commissioner Jim Gordon in the Dark Knight movies. “The two — Batman and Harry Potter — really, they saved me, because it meant that I could do the least amount of work for the most amount of money and then be home with the kids.”

Putting Fatherhood First

While filming 2005’s Batman Begins in London, the Oscar winner says he made 27 round-trip flights to Los Angeles to be with his boys. “Otherwise, I just felt my kids are being brought up by a nanny,” he added.

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Admitting that he was “not there all the time” for his eldest son, Alfie, who’s now 34, Oldman added, “I got the opportunity to have these other two kids and I thought, ‘I can’t. I’ve now been given a real gift to be the dad I imagined I could be with the first boy, Alfie, and so I’ve got a chance to repair this and switch it around.’” (He also now has a 15-year-old stepson named William.)

The strategy seems to have paid off. According to Oldman, his “biggest accomplishment” as a parent is that his children grew up to become “really, really nice people.” As he summed up, “I think they saved my life.”

An Unbreakable Bond

On the set of Harry Potter, he also took on a fatherly role with titular star Daniel Radcliffe, who was 11 years old when they started working together. Explaining that Radcliffe was learning to play the bass guitar at the time, Oldman said he “taught him a riff” in their downtime.


“But then he would come to me and he would ask advice about girlfriends,” the actor added. “I just adored him.”

Radcliffe, for his part, has admitted to being intimidated by Oldman before they became close. Reuniting for Max’s Return to Hogwarts 20th anniversary special, Radcliffe told Oldman, “You’d have fun in between takes. It could be intense and you’d show me that side as well which was really important.”