Love Slow Horses? Here’s the 10 best movies with Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman in Slow Horses
(Image credit: Apple TV)

The close of the latest series brings with it yet another long and tiring wait for the return of Slow Horses and its fourth season, which is not set to make its official premiere until closer to the end of 2024 — a sad sight for Gary Oldman fans. 

Luckily for those Slow Horses enthusiasts itching to get more Jackson Lamb, there's a veritable slew of content to experience in the many incredible films making up Oldman's career. 

With a literal rogues gallery of unforgettable characters, Oldman’s portrayals have been filled with kinetic energy, populated by a variety of real-life political figures and musicians, as well as many of the most malignant screen-stealing villains in cinema. 

So, if you just can't get enough of the thrilling spy series and its titular Jackson Lamb, these following movie picks are sure to keep you entertained in the wait for Slow Horses season 4. 

The Dark Knight 

Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight

(Image credit: WB)

“Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.”

James "Jim" Gordon

Christopher Nolan’s epic of a Batman film, sequel to the already well-regarded Batman Begins, drops viewers with perfect precision into the dimly lit and crime-riddled streets of Gotham City. Despite Heath Ledger’s Joker stealing the limelight, Oldman still brings a certain panache to the role of James “Jim” Gordon as he unwittingly rises to the rank of Commissioner following the death of its previous owner at the hands of the clown prince of crime. 

While Matt Reeves’ The Batman has brought with it levels of much-needed noir to the silver screen portrayal of the caped crusader, Nolan’s own trilogy ranks among the best superhero movies of all time — arguably even across the industry writ large. In line with this, Oldman’s portrayal of Jim Gordon is similarly regarded as expert casting, with fans still calling him the best live-action portrayal of the character and an utter staple of the franchise. 

Stream on Max

Leon the Professional 

“Death is…whimsical…today.”

Norman Stansfield

Natalie Portman’s breakout role as a young Mathilda alongside Jean Reno’s Leon wouldn’t be as profound a look into the life of a New York assassin without Oldman’s Norman Stansfield. Oldman takes on the role of antagonist in this film, leading on to become one of cinema’s greatest villains as a deranged, drug-addled, and corrupt DEA agent who ends up murdering Mathilda’s younger brother, birthing her eventual quest for vengeance.

In later interviews, as found on the 10th anniversary DVD of Leon, Portman even describes her sole interaction with Oldman as being terrifying, professing that she didn’t have “to act at all in that scene…because [Oldman] really does what he does well.” Several of Oldman’s lines throughout the movie are also improvised, showing just how well the actor gets into the minds of his characters. 

Rent on Apple TV+ and Prime Video

 True Romance 

Gary Oldman in True Romance

(Image credit: WB)

“They got everything here from a diddled-eyed joe to damned if I know.”

Drexl Spivey

With already an astounding cast list that includes the likes of Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Gandolfini, True Romance proves to be a one-of-a-kind crime adventure made all the more memorable thanks to Gary OIdman’s Drexl Spivey. 

As a drug-dealing pimp sporting gold teeth, dreadlocks, and one bad eye, Spivey looks nothing like his real-world counterpart — and that’s Oldman’s perfect style. The character serves as the secondary antagonist for the first quarter of the film, mostly speaking in Ebonics, or African American English, as he believes himself to be of such descent. 

Spivey comes highly regarded as one of film’s most ruthless drug kingpins, sitting at number 7 on Entertainment Weekly’s list, and may well be one of Oldman’s most prominent roles.  

Rent on Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Air Force One

“I would turn my back on God Himself for Mother Russia.”

Egor Korshunov

Starring alongside Harrison Ford at the top of his game was no easy feat, but Oldman pulled it off with villainous swagger in 1997’s Air Force One as the Russian ultranationalist terrorist Egor Korshunov. A former political comment operator for the Moscow Radio, Korshunov is a headstrong communist zealot, taking his beliefs to the radical extreme in his efforts to free General Ivan Radek by hijacking Air Force One with President James Marshall (Ford) onboard. 

Once again, Oldman shows his true colors as one of the very best actors around to step into the shoes of a maniacal and psychopathic villain. His ruthless complexity may not prove to win out against Ford’s trickery in the end, but Korshunov still leaves a powerful mark on cinema as one of its most daring and frightening Communist evildoers yet. 

Rent on Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

(Image credit: StudioCanal)

“We're not so different, you and I. We've both spent our lives looking for the weakness in one another's systems. Don't you think it's time to recognize there is as little worth on your side as there is on mine?”

George Smiley

Perfect for the Slow Horses fans, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a thought-provoking look into British Cold War espionage based upon John le Carré’s novel of the same name. With a cold and calculating demeanor, Oldman wears the shoes of semi-retired George Smiley as he attempts to uncover the secret Soviet Agent hiding amongst his ranks amidst MI6. 

While Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a bit of a slow burn, it still draws out an epic thrill ride headed by one of film’s best character actors. And with its supporting cast list of incredible British names, including a young Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Mark Strong, it's got all the trappings of a brilliant narrative steeped in mystery. Any and all Slow Horses fans will most certainly want to dive into this epic Cold War thriller in the wait for Jackson Lamb’s return. 

Rent on Apple TV+

Sid and Nancy 

Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy

(Image credit: StudioCanal)

When building a list of Oldman’s very best projects, it’s borderline impossible not to mention his very first major role as Sid Vicious, bassist for the Sex Pistols in the British biopic Sid and Nancy. Despite being heralded as a masterful Sid Vicious by many — to the point that he was even hospitalized for eating nothing but steam fish and melons to lose weight for the role — Oldman himself considers his version of the punk rocker to be lackluster.

Upon its official release, Sid and Nancy didn’t recoup its budget, despite earning critical reception and eventually becoming a cult classic. Interestingly, director Alex Cox initially had Daniel Day-Lewis in mind for the role of Vicious but changed after seeing Oldman in 1984’s Scopey. And Oldman would even turn down the role not once but twice because, as the actor himself puts it, “I wasn't really that interested in Sid Vicious and the punk movement.” 

Stream on IndieFlix

Immortal Beloved

Going from the drug-addled punk rock life of Sid Vicious to then taking up the role of legendary composer Ludwig van Beethoven is only ever something Gary Oldman can procure. Immortal Beloved follows the entire history of the classical musician even up to his death, with Oldman literally playing all of Beethoven’s pieces throughout the film. 

Once more, Oldman proves himself a remarkable actor with incredible range and dedication to his onscreen portrayal by way of immersing himself in Beethoven’s soundscape. A remarkable six weeks of practice on a Steinway piano over the course of six hours a day shows just how far Oldman was willing to go to emulate the life of one of music’s most profound creators. 

Rent on Apple TV+ and Prime Video


Gary Oldman in JFK

(Image credit: WB)

The 3-hour epic that is Oliver Stone’s JFK pulls viewers into the real-world events surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and who better to play the role of assassin than Gary Oldman? As Lee Harvey Oswald, Oldman brings a masterclass of a performance to the screen, wrought by some incredible research on his part as the actor even spent time with Oswald’s family to most accurately step into the shoes of JFK’s alleged killer. 

In fact, the film is so expertly devised that it even leverages real-life locations that felt the traumatic horrors of those events from November 22, 1963, main among them being the basement garage of Dallas City Hall, wherein Jack Ruby murdered Oswald. The role remains one of Oldman’s most iconic portrayals that really puts viewers into the mind of a supposed killer who truly believes himself to be innocent. 

Rent on Apple TV+

The Fifth Element 

Luc Besson’s zany Star Wars-esque science fiction action adventure still remains a staple of cinema today due in large part to a phenomenal portrayal of the weird and wacky Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg by Gary Oldman. While he may not be the main antagonist, Zorg still employs a wide grip over the film, aiming to collect five ancient stones to essentially end the world. 

In an interview with The Patriot Ledger, Oldman describes the two fundamental inspirations behind Zorg as being Bugs Bunny and Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and one-time U.S. presidential candidate, both of which seemingly describe the character’s weird fascination with technology and his southern accent. 

Stream on AMC+


In yet another blink-and-you-won’t-even-recognize-him role, Oldman portrays the disfigured and quadriplegic rapist known as Mason Verger in 2001’s Hannibal. The amount of makeup and prosthetics necessary to accurately showcase the character’s facial disfigurement, a purported 5-hour process, was enough to turn Oldman completely unrecognizable, a feat only he can achieve with such expert precision. 

Mason Verger is an interesting yet wholly depraved character, one of only two survivors of the serial cannibal Hannibal Lecter. Upon the film’s release, Oldman actually went uncredited in the role for some time, which left an air of mystery about who was really under all of that makeup. 

Stream on Max

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Ryan Epps
Staff Writer

Ryan Epps is a Staff Writer under the TV/AV section at Tom's Guide focusing on TVs and projectors. When not researching PHOLEDs and writing about the next major innovation in the projector space, he's consuming random anime from the 90's, playing Dark Souls 3 again, or reading yet another Haruki Murakami novel.