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Darkest Hour Movie Poster

Trivia for Darkest Hour

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  • Third collaboration between Gary Oldman and Sir John Hurt. They previously appeared in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011).
  • Gary Oldman is the sixth actor from the "Harry Potter" film franchise to portray Winston Churchill after Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore) in Churchill's Secret (2016), Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew) in The King's Speech (2010), Brendan Gleeson (Mad Eye Moody) in Into the Storm (2009), David Ryall (Elphias Doge) in Bertie and Elizabeth (2002), Two Men Went to War (2002) and De Gaulle (2006), and Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge) several times, beginning with Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981) and including War and Remembrance (1988) and Bomber Harris (1989).
  • This was a passion project for screenwriter Anthony McCarten.
  • Final film of Sir John Hurt.
  • John Hurt's final film. The film will also be dedicated in his memory.
  • Second role that Gary Oldman has shared with his "Harry Potter" castmate Timothy Spall. They have both played Rosencrantz, in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) and Hamlet (1996), respectively. Coincidentally, Timothy Spall also played Churchill - in The King's Speech (2010).
  • By a sad irony, John Hurt was ill with cancer when he was set to portray Neville Chamberlain, Britain's ousted Prime Minister who was dying of cancer in 1940. However, in an interview Gary Oldman said that because Hurt was so ill, he never made it to a reading and never got to film a scene. The movie was still dedicated to Hurt, as it would have been his final cinematic project.
  • This was the second British film about Winston Churchill in 2017, with the first being Churchill (2017) starring Brian Cox. However, Darkest Hour completely overshadowed the other film in terms of box office success, critical acclaim and awards nominations.
  • Sir John Hurt was originally cast as Neville Chamberlain, but had to withdraw due to health issues (he died during filming). The role was then given to Ronald Pickup.
  • Ronald Pickup, who plays Neville Chamberlain, previously played Winston Churchill's father, Lord Randolph Churchill, in Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill (1974).
  • The entire movie takes place over a single month starting in May 1940, the first days of Churchill's wartime tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
  • Gary Oldman spent over 200 hours in makeup undergoing a radical transformation that necessitated "fattening" his body with prosthetics weighing half his own weight.
  • The film's director Joe Wright, who is British but has a deep affection for the United States and spends a lot of his time there, suggested that this film is directly relevant to the country's political turmoil under the leadership of maverick business billionaire Donald J. Trump and the concern this was causing for the rest of the world. He said, "There's a big question in America at the moment: what does good leadership look like? Churchill resisted when it mattered most, and as I travel around America I am really impressed and optimistic at the level of resistance happening in the U.S. at the moment. After George W. Bush was elected, it wasn't the same level; there was more apathy then. Now people are very vocal and that's really positive."
  • The film exaggerates the Labour Party's role in Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister. Clement Attlee was prepared to serve in a coalition government led by Lord Halifax in 1940.
  • The movie's end titles neglected to mention that while Churchill lost the 1945 election, he later won the 1951 General Election. The Labour Party won the popular vote in 1951, although the collapse of the Liberals enabled the Conservative Party to win the most seats.
  • The film takes place in May of 1940. In real life, Elizabeth Layton did not become Churchill's secretary until 1941.
  • Extensive makeup was used to transform Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill, but to call this "aging" makeup would not be entirely accurate. In May 1940, Churchill was 65 years and six months old. Oldman turned 59 during filming.
  • In an interview on The Graham Norton Show (2007), Gary Oldman said he smoked more than 400 cigars, roughly £50 each (more than $20,000 USD). At the end of filming, he had nicotine poisoning and spent a holiday getting a colonoscopy.
  • Near the end of the film, Halifax is depicted as saying that Churchill "mobilized the English language and sent it into battle." Although having Halifax utter the phrase can be excused on grounds of "dramatic license," the quote actually originates with newsman Edward R. Murrow, who used it in 1954. It was used again by American President John F. Kennedy in 1963, on the occasion of Churchill being given honorary U.S. citizenship.
  • While on The Graham Norton Show (2007), Oldman stated that he went through approximately $30,000 in cigars while filming. At the end of filming, he had nicotine poisoning and spent a holiday getting a colonoscopy.
  • During his "Best Performance by an Actor" acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards ceremonies, Gary Oldman thanked his wife Gisele for putting up with his "crazy for over a year," further adding that she would tell her friends, "I go to bed with Winston Churchill, but I wake up with Gary Oldman."
  • Although he studied Churchill closely to get his performance right, Gary Oldman told the BBC in an interview that he felt playing Churchill had to be more of a creation than an impersonation. He also tried not to be influenced by previous acclaimed screen versions of him, citing in particular those by Albert Finney and Robert Hardy.
  • This is prolific actor Benjamin Whitrow's final screen credit. He died in September 2017 before the film's general release.
  • At one point in the film, Churchill goes rampaging about the house looking for a book, asking, "Where's Cicero?" who was the great orator of ancient Rome. Soon after he calls for Admiral Ramsay, played by David Bamber. Bamber played Cicero in the BBC-HBO series Rome (2005).
  • The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 1, 2017, and also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Gary Oldman's work in this film earned him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama and a nomination for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, the film received nine nominations, including Best Film and Best British Film, Best Actor in a Leading Role (for Oldman), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (for Kristin Scott Thomas).
  • -For his role as Churchill, Oldman spent over 200 hours having make-up applied, and smoked over 400 cigars (worth about $20,000) during filming.
  • -John Hurt was initially cast as British prime minister Neville Chamberlain. However, according to Oldman, Hurt was undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and was unable to attend the read-throughs. Ronald Pickup assumed the role of Chamberlain instead, and Hurt died from cancer in January 2017.
  • Although Winston Churchill is usually celebrated as a British icon and a national hero, he is also a controversial figure on the British Left and the film's release led to many people posting articles on social media feeling that it offered a fictional and romanticized version of him. They pointed out issues such as Churchill's support for the usage of tear gas and poison gas, his use of chemical weapons on villages in Russia, his support for eugenics, his role in the sinking of RMS Lusitania and the Bengal Famine of 1943. For example, the popular left-wing actor and Labour supporter Ian Reddington even re-tweeted an article which described Churchill as "a vile racist, fanatical about violence and fiercely supportive of imperialism", while historian Louise Raw wrote an article for The Independent urging people not to forget "his problematic past". Other areas of contention left-wingers and liberals have against Churchill include his opposition to votes for women before the war and his 1950s government's stepping up of prosecutions against gay men, which of course included Alan Turing, who was famously celebrated in the film The Imitation Game (2014) and posthumously pardoned.
  • Churchill often disappeared from Downing Street or the Cabinet War Rooms and appeared somewhere in London, where he would talk to the public and find out what they were thinking. However, there is no record of him ever doing this on an underground train.
  • The producers had tried to locate a genuine pre-WWII Tube train to film the Underground scene. However, none could be obtained. Instead, 1959 Tube Stock carriage, very similar in style to 1938 stock, was hired from the Mangapps Railway Museum and cosmetically restored to resemble a wartime train.
  • According to Gary Oldman, 26 members of Churchill's family attended the London premiere of the film, 17 of whom had earlier visited the set.
  • Ben Mendelsohn and Gary Oldman previously starred in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • Early in the film Churchill calls for his volume of Cicero - the great orator of ancient Rome. Soon after he calls for Admiral Ramsey played by David Bamber. David Bamber played Cicero in the BBC-HBO series "Rome".
  • According to Gary Oldman, director Joe Wright opted for a generous four weeks of rehearsal.
  • French visa # 14784.
  • Gary Oldman spent a year studying Churchill and his mannerisms before starting on the film.
  • In his final interview before his death in August 2017, which was published by the Daily Mail online, Robert Hardy, who earned widespread acclaim and a BAFTA nomination for his performance in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981), predicted that Oldman's portrayal would be one of the finest. He was quoted: "From everything I've seen and heard, Oldman's portrayal of Churchill is far more convincing than some other recent portrayals. He certainly looks the part, he's undergone a remarkable transformation. But it's not just his appearance - he's managed to catch the essence of the man." Hardy said it was dangerous for an actor to simply rely on Churchill's famous props such as his cigar: "It's important to get the little details right. It's not just the look, but stance, style and speech, too."
  • On 15 January 1965, Churchill suffered a severe stroke and died at his London home nine days later, aged 90, on the morning of Sunday, 24 January 1965, 70 years to the day after his own father's death.
  • The British historical characters were almost without exception played by British actors. However, the Australian Ben Mendelsohn was cast, in addition to his several acclaimed prior roles, because he has a close physical resemblance to the real King George VI, more so than Colin Firth and Jared Harris, two actors who had recently played him, and he is capable of a seamless British accent.
  • In the scene in the London Underground carriage, the verse which Churchill quotes to the girl is taken from Thomas Macauley's Lays Of Ancient Rome: "Then out spake Horatius, The Captain of the Gate: To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his gods."
  • The cigar bill for the shooting of Darkest Hour was 30,000 USD
  • This is one of two films nominated for the 2018 Oscars featuring Operation Dynamo, the other being Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk
  • The film deals with the events that led up to the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk. This so-called 'Operation Dynamo' was the subject of Dunkirk (2017). Both movies were Best Picture nominees for the 2018 Academy Awards.
  • Gary Oldman revealed on The Graham Norton Show (2007) that he smoked £30,000 worth of cigars on set (about 12 cigars a day) while in character as Churchill, developed nicotine poisoning and had a colonoscopy during the Christmas filming break.
  • Churchill jokingly says that Edward Halifax is the fourth son of an earl, and that fourth sons don't turn anything down. In fact Halifax's father was merely a viscount, it was Edward Halifax himself who later became the 1st Earl of Halifax. And his three older brothers had all passed away by the time Halifax was nine years old, thereby making him his father's heir from a very early stage.
  • Set during a sweltering hot spring in 1940 England, the film was actually shot during winter. For that reason exterior shots were kept to a minimum, and the interior scenes emphasize simulated sunlight through the windows to suggest the oppressive heat.
  • This is the third film to be theatrically released in 2017 that deals with the evacuation of Dunkirk. The first being Their Finest and the second being Dunkirk. Oddly enough while Their Finest, Dunkirk and Darkest Hour were released theatrically in that order, the events depicted in Their Finest took place after the events depicted in Darkest Hour and some of the events depicted in Darkest Hour took place before Dunkirk.


  • During the scene when Winston Churchill is talking on the phone to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President tells him that the United States cannot deliver planes that the United Kingdom has already paid for because of the arms embargo due to the Neutrality Act. Instead, Roosevelt suggests that the planes be flown to just a mile south of the Canadian border and pulled by horse into Canada for "legal" delivery. One of the main themes of the movie A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941) is a flier who "gets into trouble by flying a new fighter directly to Canada instead of to New York and letting it be towed across as the law demands."
  • The scene where Churchill travels on a London underground train and consults ordinary members of the public on whether to negotiate peace with Hitler, is entirely fictional. It was added as the producers felt the film was (by obvious historical necessity) dominated by white, middle class male characters and lacked the wider diversity felt needed for a modern audience and also to suggest that Churchill was sometimes beset by doubts and uncertainty over his decisions. However, many historians have criticized this interpretation saying the historical evidence shows Churchill was always resolute in his opposition to making peace with Nazi Germany. However Andrew Roberts has written that Churchill did consider ending the war on 26 May 1940. After Halifax suggested using the still-neutral Mussolini to broker an end to the war Churchill replied, "I would be grateful to get out of our present difficulties on such terms, provided we retained the essentials and the elements of our vital strength, even at the cost of some territory". He said that "if we could get out of this jam by giving up Malta and Gibraltar and some African colonies he would jump at it. But the only safe way was to convince Hitler that he couldn't beat us".
  • Taron Egerton can be seen playing a member of the general public on the platform before Churchill enters the tube, this is an uncredited cameo.
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