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MAD ABOUT THE BOYS
Clive Owen has enjoyed unexpected A-List status thanks to his performances in the likes of Children Of Men, Closer and Inside Man. But as he tells Tara Brady ahead of the release of his new movie The Boys Are Back, for him it’s still all about the script.
Tara Brady, 20 Jan 2010
More than a decade has passed since Croupier, a small British film by Mike Hodges and a flop in its native territory, slugged its way onto critics’ polls and became a sleeper hit in the US. All eyes were on the film’s star, a respected 35-year-old English character actor named Clive Owen. It was an immaculate performance; as the amoral titular hero, Owen was charming, dangerous and vulnerable, often simultaneously. American critics went nuts.
At home this Coventry-born RADA graduate was admired for his work in the ITV series The Chancer or going full-frontal in Close My Eyes. But in Hollywood he was an overnight sensation.
In the intervening years he has cemented his unexpected A-list status with show-stealing turns in Children Of Men, Closer, Gosford Park and Inside Man. There have been breakout hits like Sin City and high profile flops such as King Arthur. Owen is, by now, accustomed to the ups and downs.
“There’s no question that it helps an actor along if the film they’re in makes money. No Question, film is commerce,” he tells me. “That said I’d never choose a project based on location or budget or trying to guess what money it will make. I’m a slave to the script. You have to work on projects you can stand over.”
He’s philosophical, yet admits that 2009 was an odd year. For one thing, his beloved Liverpool FC have let him down.
“I’m actually not very happy. I keep wishing there was more tennis or horseracing on so that I can watch sports I like without the pain. Football hurts just at the minute.”
Meanwhile, having landed two quality projects in Tom Twyker’s The International and Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity, both films would underperform at the box office.
“It’s a kick in the teeth sometimes,” he sighs. “I loved Duplicity. I loved the director. I loved the script. I was happy with the finished film. But for whatever reason it just didn’t take off. The bottom line is just because a film is successful it doesn’t mean it’s any good. Think about all the films that made money in the last three or four years. There’s a few gems in there, eh? But Duplicity and The International. Put either in front of me again and tell me the whole scenario and I’ll still say ‘yes’. If I read it and get excited, that’s it. I’m not guided by anything else.”