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Gary Oldman Talks Aging in Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Parthenope’

Gary Oldman Talks Aging in Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Parthenope’

Veteran actor Gary Oldman has touched on his own relationship with aging, as well as his path to sobriety while commenting on the evocative themes in Paolo Sorrentino’s Parthenope.

Sorrentino’s love letter to Naples, Parthenope follows a physically and intellectually captivating young woman, played by breakout star Celeste Dalla Porta, across decades as the film balances youth, freedom, and yearning against a backdrop of enchanting Neapolitans.

At the Cannes Film Festival‘s press conference for the film, Oldman was asked about his character, an aging American writer called John Cheever. “If there are any similarities and there are a few between me and Mr Cheever, to connect it directly to the movie… I have a stepson (in Italy) who is 16 and I’m sure he longs to be 18 and 21. You’re always wishing when you’re young, you actually wish away your youth to be older,” Oldman said. “There’s a saying, isn’t there, that we have one foot in the past, one foot in the future, and we piss on today. We are not in the moment.”

He touched on his own experience as a young man in the industry. “I’m the happiest I’ve been. I’m more comfortable now than I was in my skin when I was younger… There was chaos, pain and a lot of drama in my life when I was younger. It’s no secret that I used to drink and I just celebrated 20 years of sobriety.” (He said to audience applause.)

“Coming into this role, there are things that I instinctively understood. When Paolo said: ‘I want you to play the sad, melancholy, drunken poet,’ I went: ‘I kinda know what that is.’” The Slow Horses star also was asked about comments he made on his role in the Harry Potter franchise, which he attempted to explain.

Sorrentino wanted to capture the magnetic beauty of Naples, one that he confessed he finds himself drawn back to: “It’s a beautiful place for a certain stage of life, but then it might become less determinant and less important when you grow up. Many Neapolitan people, and I am amongst those, constantly go back to it and escape to it.”

Porta also wanted to comment on how making the film allowed her to confront Parthenope‘s emotions in her own life. “During the journey I made in making this film, it was as if I had to get rid of a younger side of me, that carefree one, and enter the world of grown-ups and focus on what I want to do in life.” Oldman backed this sentiment up: “I am, of 50 years of doing it, a veteran with experience and age and Celeste is a young actress whose life will change after this film and there is an innocence and purity that will be lost forever.”

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“Just by the fact that she is here and exposed to all of you people. In a way, you use what you can when you act, that dynamic between us as people, as actors, supported and nourished the poetic in the scenes.”

Read The Hollywood Reporter‘s full review of Paolo Sorrentino’s Parthenope here.

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