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Gary Oldman got nicotine poisoning playing Winston Churchill in new film Darkest Hour

The actor smoked over 400 Cubans playing the British PM in new biopic

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 15 December 2017 11:07 GMT
Trailer: Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman is unrecognisable in new film Darkest Hour, a biopic in which the British actor plays Winston Churchill in a performance that's placed him at the forefront of the coming awards season's Best Actor race.

The film - directed by Joe Wright - follows the Prime Minister's early days as Hitler closes in on Britain during World War II.

Oldman's dedication to the tole was commendable spending more than 200 hours in the makeup chair for a shoot which lasted 58 days to transform into the cigar-smoking PM. In fact, Oldman smoked so many cigars in character as Churchill that it ended up taking quite an extreme toll.

“I got serious nicotine poisoning,” Oldman told The Hollywood Reporter. “You'd have a cigar that was three-quarters smoked and you'd light it up, and then over the course of a couple of takes, it would go down, and then the prop man would replenish me with a new cigar - we were doing that for 10 or 12 takes a scene.”

For his scenes, Oldman smoked at least 400 Romeo y Julieta Cubans which saw almost £15,000 of the film's £22.4m budget go into the cigars alone.

Oldman stars in the film alongside Kristen Scott Thomas, Lily James and Ben Mendelsohn who plays King George VI.

Just last week, he scored his first ever Golden Globe nomination for the role, a category which sees him face opposition from Tom Hanks (The Post), Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) and fellow Londoner Daniel Day-Lewis whose been nominated for his final screen performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread.

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