Lesley Manville Kept Her Pregnancy With Gary Oldman's Child a Secret on Set
The actors split when their son was just a few months old.
Who: Oscar-nominated actress Lesley Manville, 64, and Oscar-winning actor Gary Oldman, 62.
How They Met: The actors reportedly met when they were both performing at London’s Royal Court Theatre around 1984.
They married in 1987 and welcomed son Alfie the following year.
Why We Loved Them: Manville and Oldman seemed to really connect when it came to their work.
More than a decade after their split, Manville spoke fondly of filming scenes with Oldman in The Firm, reminiscing in an interview with The Irish Times about keeping her pregnancy a secret on set.
"Gary and I had worked together before on the Bond plays,” she said, referring to Edward Bond’s The Pope’s Wedding and Saved, which she and Oldman both appeared in at the Royal Court in 1984. “We knew each other on an acting level. What nobody except Gary knew when we were shooting The Firm was that I was pregnant. I was only in the early stages, but we didn't want [director Alan Clarke] or anyone to get nervous."
When They Peaked: Though the sting of their split is decades-old at this point, their ability to co-parent and celebrate one another’s wins (sometimes literally) is admirable.
In 2018, both Manville and Oldman were nominated for Oscars — the former for her supporting role in Phantom Thread; the latter for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Oldman won the award that year, while Manville lost to Allison Janney.
“Just because you’re divorced from somebody doesn’t mean you hate them,” Manville told The Hollywood Reporter after the nominations were announced. “It’s completely nice and friendly.”
Mostly, Manville was excited for her and Oldman’s son, who’s “one of the rare few who's had both his parents Oscar nominated the same year,” she told AARP. After the ceremony, Manville said the families came together to celebrate. “It was really lovely. A historic moment, you know.”
“Everyone wants the story that I’m sour-faced about it,” Manville told BBC Radio 4 following her ex-husband’s victory. “But I’m not remotely sour-faced.”
Even before the Oscars forced Manville and Oldman’s paths to cross, the actors were supportive of each other’s careers. When asked about their relationship in 2016, the Ordinary Love star joked that Oldman had “been through a few wives since me” (he’s currently on wife no. 5), and shared the expletive-laced reaction the Mank actor had when Manville was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2015: “F—ing hell, you got an OBE! F—ing hell!”
The Breakup: Just three months after Alfie was born, Oldman and Manville separated. The Oscar winner wed his Henry & June co-star Uma Thurman in 1990, the same year that his and Manville’s divorce was finalized.
In 2007, Manville told The Guardian it was “slightly difficult” for Alfie to see his father since the actor lived in America. “Because my son has never known anything else, our situation is the norm,” she explained, noting that Oldman visited “quite a lot” when his schedule allowed it — “he is always filming something.”
Manville has spoken publicly about being a single mother, describing raising Alfie “with minimum help” in a 2016 Sunday Times interview. “I compromised my private life, my social life, hugely when I had a young child,” she explained. “I used to finish the job and not go out for a drink, and just get home.”
As for the mechanics of Manville and Oldman’s breakup, few specifics are known. “I find it vulgar to have my private dirty linen washed in public,” she said in a 2016 interview.
That said, Oldman has alluded to both his alcoholism and the intensity of his work coming between him and his past partners.
"Sometimes acting gets in the way of living life,” he told Entertainment Weekly following his divorces from both Manville and Thurman. “It’s very consuming.”
Oldman has even explicitly admitted that his acting process makes him “anxious and neurotic and hell to live with.”
“Without sobriety, you can’t have you, and without you, you can’t have the other stuff,” Oldman told The L.A. Times in 1995, reportedly confirming that his relationships with both of his ex-wives suffered due to his addiction.
Where They Are Now:
As previously mentioned, Oldman’s “been through a few wives” since he and Manville split more than 30 years ago. After he divorced Thurman, the actor went on to wed photographer Donya Fiorentino in 1997. They welcomed two children together (Gulliver, 23, and Charlie, 21) before splitting in 2001. Interestingly, Oldman’s Mank director David Fincher was also once married to Fiorentino — and they, too, share a child. Next, Oldman married Alexandra Edenborough in 2008. Their divorce was finalized in 2015. The actor is currently married to Gisele Schmidt, whom he wed in 2017.
Oldman’s latest project, Mank, launches on Netflix Dec. 4.
Manville wed fellow actor Joe Dixon in 2000, but they’ve since split.
The acclaimed actress has several major projects on the horizon, including her turn as Princess Margaret in season 5 of The Crown.
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.