Oldman was raised in an impoverished working-class neighbourhood of London. He has spent his childhood as well as adult years with the absence of his father. His father left the family when he was hardly 7 years old.
Oldman was never a standout student and therefore he himself dropped out of school at the young age of 16 and started working as a store clerk. Soon he discovered his talent that he can perform on stage, therefore, he returned to the classroom and attended the Young People's Theatre, Greenwich, England. Thereafter, he earned a scholarship to join the prestigious Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London and obtained his bachelor's degree from the same institute in 1979.
Gary Oldman's then rose from ranks and introduced himself to mainstream audiences with his role as Sid Vicious in the movie Sid and Nancy in 1986. His performance was lauded by critics. He followed this role with the role of a gay playwright named Joe Orton in the film Prick up Your Ears in 1987 and this film too garnered him equal praise.
He kept on delivering acclaimed work but after two decades of his illustrious career, he earned his maiden Oscar nomination for his splendid role in the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in 2011.