DOUBLE IMPACT Pozniak - Oldman

You might expect a film about the Kennedy assassination to prominently feature Lee Harvey Oswald and his Russian-born wife Marina. But in Oliver Stone's JFK, British actor Gary Oldman and Polish actress Beata Pozniak, who portray them, have only supporting roles. Most of its time the movie follows Kevin Costner as investigator and conspiracy theorist Jim Garrison.

"I could have said, "No, this role's too small, I'm gonna do Libra [the film of Don DeLillo's novel about Oswald] instead," says Oldman, who has starred in films as diverse as State of Grace, Sid and Nancy and Prick Up Your Ears. "But I didn't do it for the size of the part. I did it because of a speech that Kevin makes at the end of the movie, and because there's a fantasy sequence where I, as Oswald, talk straight to the camera and say I'm innocent." (Unfortunately, Oldman's scene has since been cut from the film.)

Because their roles were small, the two claim that the majority of their scenes weren't even written. "When I got the script, nothing was there," says Pozniak, a star in Poland who has appeared in more than 20 foreign films over the past 12 years, in addition to experimental theater and performance-art work in Europe and the US. "It just mentioned that she was Oswald's wife, that was it."

Adds Oldman, "For instance, the script would just say, "Lee and Marina have a fight." No lines, no clue as to what they're fighting about. Beata and I would talk to people and sit down together and figure it out, then we'd meet with Oliver and he'd say, "Okay, tell me what this scene's about." It was like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute and free-falling, and trusting that there's a big air bag underneath the clouds to catch you."

The actors spent months in Dallas before the movie began, interviewing witnesses and friends and, in Pozniak's case, living with Marina Oswald for two months.

"Usually when you work on a film," says Pozniak, "you get the script, you have two or three meetings with a director, and then you shoot it. But this was like working on a theater project, when you get many weeks to work on a script and develop it." They came out of the experience convinced of Oswald's innocence, and closer to his family. "After the movie was over, Marina sent me a very nice letter, says Oldman, who then turns to Pozniak. "Did I show it to you?" "No. But I was with her when she wrote it", she adds in a bit of charming one-upmanship. Next, for Pozniak is a mayor part in George Lucas' Young Indiana Jones: Oldman, meanwhile, plays the title role in Francis Ford Coppola s new version of Dracula, for which his forehead has been shaved to give him an appropriately vampiric hairline. "Francis told me, "The character is like the Godfather", he says of the role, decidedly not a supporting one. "He controls every scene he's in, he controls the scenes he's not in because other characters are always talking about him, and in the end, he even controls his own death".

Harper's BAZAAR, DEC. 1991

 

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