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Gary Oldman Says Harry Potter Movies Made Him a Better Father (But Not for the Reason You Think)

Gary Oldman credits his work on major genre franchises with making him a better dad at home.

By Matthew Jackson

Gary Oldman is one of the most respected actors of his generation thanks to decades of great work ranging from independent dramas to crime cinema to, of course, major franchise blockbusters. Those franchises, including his three-film stint as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films (all of which are streaming now on Peacock), helped make him an even bigger and more sought-after star, but according to Oldman, they also had another, more personal impact.

On The Drew Barrymore Show this week to promote his series Slow Horses, Oldman explained that his acting work became more challenging in the early 2000s, when he was suddenly divorced and left with custody of his two young sons. Raising kids as a single parent is challenging in any context, but for Oldman, it was made harder by the shift in major movie production to countries far away from home.

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“At 42 years old, I woke up divorced and I had custody of these boys and so that, in itself, was…" he explained. "That was hard because there was a shift in the industry where a lot of productions were being [filmed], it was Hungary, Budapest, Prague, Australia, you know, all of these places.”

How Harry Potter and Batman Helped Gary Oldman Raise His Kids

Because he wanted to be there for his kids, Oldman couldn't necessarily jet off to Australia for several months to shoot movies, which meant he had to be more selective about the kind of work he was doing. Thankfully, a pair of franchises came through, including Potter.

“Thank God for Harry Potter,” he told Barrymore. “I tell you, the two — Batman and Harry Potter — really they saved me, because it meant that I could do the least amount of work for the most amount of money and then be home with the kids.”

RELATED: 7 Moments in Harry Potter Movies that Made You Ugly Cry

Oldman played Sirius Black, Harry Potter's godfather and unexpected magical mentor, in three films beginning with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004. In 2005, he joined Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy as Jim Gordon, a role he would play for three films until The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. The Potter films were famously largely produced in the United Kingdom, which meant Oldman could be closer to home. For the Dark Knight films, he worked with director Christopher Nolan to fly back and forth, taking more than two dozen flights during production so he could be with his children on all his days off. In the end, both franchises were massive successes, and Oldman was able to keep his focus on his kids. Looking back on it now, he told Barrymore, he calls turning his kids into "nice people" his "biggest accomplishment."

“My kids are not geniuses, but they’re really, really nice people," he said. "I think [that we need] more nice people in the world. We’ve got geniuses, we’ve done enough of them. We need really kind people. Good heart and not mean-spirited.”

The Harry Potter series is now streaming on Peacock.

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