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Gary Oldman got nicotine poisoning after smoking $20,000 worth of cigars while filming Churchill biopic

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Gary Oldman has confessed that during filming his Winston Churchill biopic, he had “serious nicotine poisoning” after consuming roughly $20,000 (£14,800) worth of cigars.

Churchill was seldom seen without a Romeo y Julieta Cuban cigar in his mouth, and Oldman was no different in his portrayal of the figure. He smoked 400 cigars over the 48-day shoot, which made him extremely sick.

Oldman told The Hollywood Reporter. “I got serious nicotine poisoning. 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.”

Director Wright, on the other hand, believed the cost was justified, adding, “It’s Winston Churchill. You can’t have Winston Churchill without a cigar.”

Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill.
Credit: Jack English / Focus Features

The creation of Gary Oldman’s prostheses, which was a less health-threatening component of his performance, was done with considerable care. After recalling a 15-year meeting with renowned prosthetics designer Kazuhiro Tsuji, Oldman felt Tsuji would be the man to turn him into Winston Churchill. One issue was that Tsuji had left the film industry some years ago, and it required some persuasion from Oldman, who claimed he wouldn’t perform the character if Tsuji couldn’t. “It was like Gary Oldman and Winston Churchill had a love child, and it wasn’t pretty,” Oldman said, joking about the unsuccessful earlier efforts at the prosthetics.

Kazuhiro Tsuji succeeded in creating an outfit that only weighted around 14 pounds at the end of the day, but it would still take close to 4 hours to get Gary Oldman into his body suit and face mask before each day, and 45 minutes to get him out.

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the film’s synopsis reads: “Within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical king, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.”

Darkest Hour is currently showing in cinemas.


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