Belfast Telegraph

Smileys all round for Oldman role

Novelist John le Carre has admitted he had "misgivings" about the film re-make of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Gary Oldman takes on the role of spy George Smiley in the film - a role made famous by Alec Guinness in the the 1979 television series inspired by le Carre's novel.

The writer said: "I approached the prospect of a feature film of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with the same misgivings that would have afflicted anyone else who had loved the television series of 32 years ago.

"George Smiley was Alec Guinness. Alec was George: period. How could another actor equal let alone surpass him?"

But the writer said his "anxieties were misplaced".

He said: "Gary Oldman's Smiley pays full honour to the genius of Guinness. He evokes the same solitude, inwardness, pain and intelligence that his predecessor brought to the part - even the same elegance.

"But Oldman's Smiley, from the moment he appears, is a man waiting patiently to explode. The danger, the pressed-down fury and the humanity that almost doesn't manage to keep its head above the parapet of despair, are Oldman's own. If I were to meet the Smiley of Alec Guinness on a dark night, my instinct would be to go to his protection. If I met Oldman's, I think I just might make a run for it.

"The film, through my very personal prism, is a triumph. And if people write to me and say 'How could you let this happen to poor Alec Guinness' I shall reply that, if 'poor Alec' had witnessed Oldman's performance, he would have been the first to give it a standing ovation."

The thriller's cast also includes Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth.

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