Gary Oldman Recalls Sweating "Vodka" Before Going Sober 24 Years Ago

Gary Oldman explained how his previous alcohol addiction informed his role as Herman Mankiewicz in the Netflix film Mank.

By Cydney Contreras Mar 03, 2021 3:52 AMTags
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Gary Oldman has been sober for 24 years, but the Mank star still remembers what it was like to "sweat vodka" and have a "black" tongue.

He tells The Los Angeles Times that his experience as a recovering alcoholic provided a greater understanding of Herman Mankiewicz, who he portrays in the Netflix film Mank. Like the famous screenwriter, Oldman recalls thinking he was "getting away with" his addiction because he was still working. 

Oldman explains, "Herman, with that self-effacing humor, he was at lunch, drinking with a friend, who said, 'Why don't you go home sober for once?' And he answered, ‘What? And have [his wife] Sara throw me out as an impostor?' I did the same thing. I would sit down and tell the waiter, 'I'll have a large vodka tonic. And can you bring it now because I'm an alcoholic. I need it quicker.'"

He adds that it was harder to kick the habit because he associated alcoholism with great artists like Ernest Hemingway.

"People romanticize it, and even I romanticized it," Oldman reflects. "All my heroes were drinkers or opium addicts, and you get all misty-eyed about these poets and playwrights and actors who were big drinkers."

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Addiction comes with its side effects though, and Oldman felt them. He recalls, "I used to sweat vodka. It becomes such a part of you. My tongue would be black in the morning. I blamed it on the shampoo. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, to be in the grip of it. It's hell. And that self-effacing humor? That's just there to mask the inadequacy." 

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This affliction served him well in the role of Mank, Oldman says, because, "You have to understand why people are frustrated with him."

Critics have praised Oldman's performance, and he's already getting nominations as the award season slowly but surely rolls out. 

Most recently, he was nominated for Best Actor at the 2021 Golden Globes, alongside Riz Ahmed and Anthony Hopkins. Ultimately, the late Chadwick Boseman won the award for his role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Oldman is also nominated for Best Actor at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards, airing this Sunday on The CW.