Gary Oldman spent years as one of Hollywood’s most quietly celebrated character actors. The British actor finally got the recognition he deserved Sunday when he took home the best actor Oscar for his role as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.”
The sudden media attention though, came with a dark side: the resurfacing of Oldman’s storied past. Many major media outlets – The Washington Post included – recalled an incident between Oldman and his ex-wife Donya Fiorentino from 17 years ago.
“As I picked up the phone to call the police, Gary put his hand on my neck and squeezed,” she alleged in a 2001 divorce filing. “I backed away, with the phone receiver in my hand. I tried to dial 911. Gary grabbed the phone receiver from my hand, and hit me in the face with the telephone receiver three or four times. Both of the children were crying.”
Oldman denied these and other allegations in the divorce proceeding, claiming they were “replete with lies, innuendoes and half-truths.” As The Washington Post reported, no charges were filed, and a judge awarded Oldman sole custody of the couple’s two children.
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Now the actor’s 20-year-old son, Gulliver Oldman, has called out the media for resurrecting the old and “false” story.
“It has been troubling and painful to see … these false allegations against my father being written about again, especially after this was all settled years ago,” he wrote in an open letter, published in the Hollywood Reporter and other news outlets. “There is good reason that these specific articles and accusations subsided years ago.”
In the letter, Oldman called his father his “one and true guiding light” and his “only hero.”
“I owe him the world and I owe him my life,” he wrote.
“In my eyes it is disgusting that so called ‘journalists’ have seen fit to spread and perpetuate the lie,” he wrote, adding, “It’s a shame to see that ‘clickbait journalism’ or judgement by headline, is designed to make one jump to conclusions without receiving the full range of fact that may be detailed in a piece, whether it be online or otherwise.”
He pointed specifically to a recent piece in the Daily Mail, the British tabloid, in which Fiorentino said Gary Oldman “yelled at me constantly, ruined my life and stole my children.”
“Our marriage was a giant car crash in which demented things happened. I lost my self-esteem, I was broken,” Fiorentino told the British tabloid. “I’ve been empowered by hearing other women speak up. When a woman gets her voice back, she gets her power back.”
In the same piece, Gary Oldman said that Fiorentino’s alleged addiction to pills and alcohol caused their marriage’s demise.
Gulliver Oldman wrote that while he stopped speaking to his mother seven years ago, he isn’t trying to speak ill of her. But “my brother and I both have played the role of pawn on numerous occasions throughout our lives in a big game our mother has been desperately trying to play against our father. … She has been a very sad and very troubled person most of her life.”
“Yes, she brought me into this world,” he added. “She didn’t however, teach me how to be part of it.”
He said he hopes “only to protect my father’s character, as a person and as an actor.”
“This torment should have ended 16 years ago,” he wrote, “In such a momentous year for his career, my father should finally be able to enjoy himself.”