Maybe it's because he's played so many villains that the prospect of sitting down with Gary Oldman to discuss his new film, 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,' is more than a little intimidating. In person, Oldman is surprisingly soft-spoken, and couldn't be more polite or humble. (Did he really just ask me, "Do you like the series?" in reference to Christopher Nolan's Batman films? Inconceivable!) While he did discuss the challenge of stepping into Alec Guinness's shoes with 'Tinker,' (look for the interview later this week), he also talked somewhat wistfully about ending his run as Gotham Police Commissioner Jim Gordon in 'The Dark Knight Rises.' That and a certain SNL skit.

You're sort of the heart of the Batman films. Where do we find Gordon in the third movie?
We find him -- obviously I can't give too much away because I'm sworn to secrecy -- but when we meet him, things are calmer in Gotham. It's reminiscent of the Gordon that we met in the first one. There's a world-weariness to him, and even though things on the surface are now calmer, he's cleaned up Gotham with the Harvey Dent Act, it's seething underneath.

And all hell's about to break loose.
Well, you've got to have some hell break loose. It's 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Laughs).

I know you can't get specific, but what can we expect?
I think the story's really good. The story really delivers. And I can't say any more than that.

When people walk out of the theater, what will they be thinking?
It's great. It's a terrific conclusion to the trilogy. Nolan rounds it off: he brings in a bit of the first one, from 'Batman Begins,' and he does some really surprising things with it. I thought his choice of villain was very interesting, to use Bane instead of Riddler or Penguin. He's not gone with the most obvious choice. The challenge for Chris was always really the story and I think he didn't want to make a third one for the sake of it. I think there was pressure on him, obviously, because the second was so successful. So there's always going to be some pressure to keep it going. But he's too smart and classy, really to just make a third just for the sake of making it, because others are demanding or want it from him and I think he felt that, 'Let me get the story right.' So the fans won't be disappointed. Do you like the series?

[Pause for my disbelief that he has to ask.] Oh, very much, yes. I can't wait for 'The Dark Knight Rises.'
I think he's really captured something. It's been great working on them too.

Are you sorry the series is over?
I'm not and I am. I think he probably is somewhere [in between]. I can't tell you what it is, but there was something on the set -- it was Batman-related -- and I said to Emma [Thomas, the producer], "You should keep that." And she said, "I don't know, we've got enough memorabilia." After eight years, he's sort of done with it. So I think there's a relief and it's mixed with [some sadness.] It was quite sad, my last night of shooting, to retire Jim.

Did you happen to catch the Batman sketch on 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend? [Video below]
With Steve Buscemi?

Yes, what did you think?
I think it was hysterical! [Huge grin.] Very funny. He looked like Jim Gordon, didn't he?

It's the best he's ever looked!



[Photo: WireImage]





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