Norman Stansfield (billed as Stansfield) is the primary antagonist of Luc Besson‘s 1994 film Léon: The Professional.
Portrayed by Gary Oldman, the corrupt and mentally unhinged Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent has been named as one of cinema’s greatest villains. In recognition of its influence, MSN Movies described the Stansfield character as “the role that launched a thousand villains”.
Stansfield is noted for Oldman’s over-the-top portrayal of the character. Given the austere manner of the film’s title character, actor Jean Reno had “no room to play”, according to director Luc Besson, and Stansfield was devised as a contrasting character with whom “anything was possible. Anything.” Although the antagonist of the film, Stansfield was intended to offer a measure of comic relief.
Oldman said of Besson’s direction: “You share ideas, and if you come up with an idea that he likes, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll go in the movie. I liked working with Luc so much that if I actually never worked with another director again, it wouldn’t worry me.” In a later interview, however, Oldman alluded to some conflict with Besson on-set.
Stansfield has been paying Mathilda‘s father, played by Michael Badalucco, to store cocaine in his residence, but suspects that he has been stealing some of the drugs for himself. The sniffing and invasion of Badalucco’s personal space was improvised by Oldman, resulting in the genuine expression of unease on Badalucco’s face during the scene. Oldman also improvised verbally on set.