Before he achieved big screen success, however, Oldman gained experience on the stage. In the 70’s, he struggled financially while working in an abattoir, selling shoes, and on assembly lines etc. After completing his BA in Acting, he applied to RADA only to be rejected. Just one year later, he made his professional stage debut at York’s Theatre Royal in Dick Whittington and his Cat.
Such appearances would lead to Oldman’s most famous moment in his stage career when in 1984, he starred in The Pope’s Wedding. That performance led him to win two of the top honours in British theatre: the Drama Theatre Award for Best Actor and the Time Out Fringe Award for Best Newcomer. Oldman then went on to perform in numerous stage roles, which saw him work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It also led to his first big-time role on the screen in Sid and Nancy, although he’d twice turned down the role before accepting. Oldman’s unusual knack for transitioning between sensitive and subtle characters with larger-than-life types was borne from his years in the theatre. Director Luc Besson said that when they worked together on The Fifth Element, Oldman was able to recite any Hamlet scene word for word.
With his intelligence, intensity, and steely gaze, Ralph Fiennes has been typecast as something of a villain in Hollywood. However, after showing off a flair for comedy during a number of more sensitive portrayals, he’s changing people’s minds.Fiennes learned his craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the mid-80’s. In his last year, in 1985, he began performing at Regent Park’s Open Air Theatre. After he graduated, he accepted bigger Shakespearean roles, appearing in the likes of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 1988, Fiennes was accepted into the Royal Shakespeare Company where he enjoyed a significant and prominent four years. He performed in King Lear as Edmund, King John as The Dauphin, and Much Ado About Nothing as Claudio.
After he quickly achieved notoriety in the Schindler’s List, Fiennes made his stage return to take on the greatest Shakespeare protagonist of all, Hamlet. The production turned out to be a huge success and even made its way to Broadway. Fiennes continued to develop his stage career, playing Ivanov in 1997 in the Chekov play of the same name before going on to play the great Shakespeare antagonist Richard 111. He would go on go on to perform in another Shakespeare play, Coriolanus, which would tour internationally. In 2010, he would stand behind the camera in the role of director to direct the film adaptation of that very play. More recently, he made a return to his earlier career to play Oedipus at the National Theatre.
Fiennes has since gone to achieve more success in the movies, becoming one of Hollywood’s most respected actors. His stunning theatrical performances, however, has made him an even better actor, and a performer of unlimited potential.