Darkest Hour Part II: Soldado

Next weekend, Gary Oldman is set to run away with the Oscar for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. In a year surrounded by uncertainties, Oldman may be the only nomination we’ve all agreed on as a sure bet. He’s already snagged the Golden Globe, the SAG, and the BAFTA. Vegas odds currently have him at 17/10. Easy money. Good luck putting the rest of your ballot together.

Darkest Hour was no slouch at the box office either, earning over $135 million worldwide. The film might not be the most obvious choice for a sequel, but if Sicario can scare up a reason to grab return dollars, then Winston Churchill might as well stake a claim in the franchise market as well. Let’s not forget that Cate Blanchett got a couple cracks at the queen for director Shekhar Kapur in Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age. We’re all maniacs for the BBC and The Crown dominates Netflix conversation.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Oldman expressed an interest in pursuing Churchill’s life post the allied victory in Europe. The setting would be the Yalta Conference of 1945 in which Churchill gathered alongside Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin to discuss the reorganization of Europe. What was originally meant to be a peaceful resolution for the war-torn continent would eventually result in the battle lines of the Cold War.

The appeal of acting as Churchill against two other titanic talents in the roles of Roosevelt and Stalin is obviously appealing to the actor as well as the audience. Your mind immediately starts fan casting the historical figures. Both John Lithgow and Bill Murray have taken a stab at FDR relatively recently, and Adrian McLoughlin’s British take-down of Uncle Joe in The Death of Stalin was a savage delight. Surely we can find a few contemporaries to pit against Oldman’s bulldog.

In the interview, Oldman is steered to the possibility of a sequel, but the reality seems distant. He laments, “I guess there could be…Roosevelt’s a great character.” However, as he grinds through the awards season, it’ doesn’t appear he wants back into that makeup chair anytime soon. Before we get Darkest Hour 2: Soldado, Oldman wants to partake in another Churchill adjacent concept.

His plan right now is to return to the stage with an adaptation of Churchill’s short story, “The Dream.” The fictional concept originated when Churchill’s daughter, Sarah, asked her father who he would most like to see sitting in the empty chair across from them. Churchill’s response was his father. Which must have been a little surprising because everything we know about their relationship was that it was a cantankerous one.

In the story itself, Churchill imagines the return of his father’s spirit. While he’s repairing his dad’s damaged portrait, Lord Randolph Churchill reappears in the study to exchange in awkward conversation. One can easily imagine Oldman and another actor engaged in a two-man performance, exploring regret and an epic crisis of confidence. Pull back a little bit and you’ve got another entry in a possible Darkest Hour trilogy.

For now, Gary Oldman has put Winnie’s suit in the closet, but it’s at the ready when the desire (and a patience for latex) strikes him. Will Darkest Hour remain a defining moment in a career full of radical performances? It will get him that coveted little gold man, but it seems unlikely that Churchill can top his chameleon turns in Sid & NancyTrue RomanceLeon, or even Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which scored him his first Academy Award nomination. Now, if he refuses to let the bulldog go? If he comes back for seconds and thirds, Gary Oldman could own this historical figure.

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