E-cigarette break helped Joe Wright seal movie deal with Gary Oldman

The British actor wasn't sure he wanted to tackle the wartime leader on the big screen.

Director Joe Wright knew he'd found his Winston Churchill in Gary Oldman after they bonded while puffing on electronic cigarettes.

The Dark Knight star takes on the role of the British Prime Minister in Darkest Hour, which chronicles the politician's early days at the start of World War II, and Joe reveals it was a shared vaping session which sealed the deal for the pair to work together.

"I was certainly nervous at meeting Gary, and I was surprised that Gary was nervous too," he said of their initial sit-down in Los Angeles. "We went outside and vaped together. By the end of the vape, we were like brothers; really, brothers."

Oldman admits he was a little apprehensive about tackling the role of Churchill onscreen, because he didn't want to disappoint fans after previous portrayals of the wartime leader by acting icons Richard Burton, Robert Hardy, and Albert Finney. More recently, John Lithgow has won huge acclaim, and a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award, for his portrayal of Churchill in the hit Netflix series The Crown. He is also nominated for an Emmy for the role at Sunday's (19Sep19) award ceremony.

"I didn't want to be contaminated or influenced by other people's performances," Gary explained to reporters at the Toronto International Film Festival. "We've all got an impression of Churchill and a lot of that comes from the people who played him, not the actual man."

Instead, Oldman pored over old film footage of the Prime Minister and read various historical accounts about him to help develop his performance: "To hear him and see him was the way in," said the Brit, who also had to rely on heavy prosthetics to pull off Churchill's appearance on the big screen.

Darkest Hour, which also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, opens in November (17).

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