Clive Owen chats about his latest movie “The International”, the possible “Sin City” sequel and reuniting with Julia Roberts for next month’s “Duplicity”
It couldn’t be a more appropriate time for Clive Owen’s latest flick The International a movie in which banks are the enemy, and Owen plays a determined Interpol agent out to bring down the worst of them. The talented thesp with the distractingly deep voice sat down recently to chat about the role and that lengthy, its carefully orchestrated gun battle at New York City’s beautiful Guggenheim museum, Sin City 2 and reuniting with Julia Roberts for next month’s Duplicity.
Q: Is your character Louis Salinger in The International the anti-Bond?
CO: “No, it is what it is. The one thing for me playing the character that was very important was that he never, ever looked like Bond, there was no vanity. There was no time for self-reflection. The guy is only looking one way and that’s outwards. He’s obsessed. He’s a passionate, obsessive character. There’s no vanity there and it was important the way I looked clothes-wise, the way my face looked – that I always looked like I wasn’t caring about my appearance.”
Q: He doesn’t bathe?
CO: “No, and he doesn’t care about what he’s putting out in any way and that’s not typical for a lead character in a movie. It was important that the clothes looked down because there’s no time to be thinking about howhe’s presenting himself.”
Q: Does it take a lot out of you to get into this intense mode?
CO: “Yeah, in this film especially, I’d say they were very different. Every scene had to have this drive and this energy and this commitment, and it does because it’s not the kind of movie where you can ever, ever go on the back foot. You’ve got to be driving.”
Q: And you’re in almost every scene.
Q: Was the fight scene in the Guggenheim the roughest thing to do?
CO: “It was the most physical and it took a long time and it was alwas going to be a huge scene in the movie, even from the very first time I sat down with Tom to talk about the movie. He said, “It’s not going to be an action film per se, but when there is action, I want it to be incredibly tense and very explosive,” the Guggenheim being obviously the biggest set piece. It just took a long time to film. It’s one of the most exquisitely realized scenes I’ve ever been involved in.”
Q: Were you worried about falling over the edge of the low railings?
CO: “That’s very true. They were very low. No, it was always, people were very, very careful. I mean, there were lots of sequences where they were squibbing up all the side of the walls and we’d have to run, but always people are very professional and always plan those things. You’re going to get little knocks and scrapes and tiny things because you will, because there’s so much going on. But ultimately, you always feel that the people in charge of it, somebody’s job is safety first in the whole sequence like that. They call the shots. If they don’t think it’s safe enough, you don’t do it so there’s never any real fear.”
Q: How did you shoot the Grand Bazaar chase scene – they were real crowds weren’t they?
CO: “I was given a gun and a security man who kept a reasonable distance away and we shot for a day or two of me just tearing through that grand bazaar with intent, with a gun in my hand. The scary thing is, if that was London or New York, people would’ve freaked. People would notice it and they’d react but it was shocking how we did that. I mean, some people genuinely thinking that we were being a bit crazy. They were “Oh, you know, you’ve got a gun in your hand, anything could happen.” But it was a very exciting way to shoot it, to just get in there and mix it up with the real crowds.”
Q: It’s a shame you don’t even get to kiss Naomi Watts in this movie. . .
CO: “No, I always loved the relationship. We didn’t slip into the cliché of ‘Now we’re going to get together’ but there’s an attraction there. They’re very close in the movie and you feel in another time and place, they are the kind of people who got together. They’re committed because of their work ethic and what they’re about and their sense of justice. That was always very maturely and intelligently handled.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your next movie Duplicity?
CO: “It’s about two corporate spies who decide to team up to scam the companies, rather than work for them. And they’re also having an affair, but because they’re both so good at what they do, they don’t trust each other. They keep thinking at any point, the other one’s going to have the other one over. So it’s just each scene was incredibly fun to play.”
Q: You reunited with Julia Roberts for that movie. How was that?
CO: “Duplicity was just a treat to reunite with Julia because I had such a great time with her on Closer. It might not look like that when you see the film. We actually did have a great time and it’s a hugely exciting script with probably the best dialogue I’ve had since Closer. Very different but amazingly written dialogue. It was just a treat for both of us to get our hands on and it’s a real banter movie.”
Q: Frank Miller finished a script for Sin City 2. Have you seen it yet?
CO: “No. No, I haven’t.”
Q: Are you excited to?
CO: “They’ve been talking about Sin City 2 since Sin City 1 and I have no idea. I know Frank but I have no idea where the state of play is on making that. I mean, it literally has been talked about for years and at various times people have said there’s a story with Dwight in, but I know literally as much as you do.”
Q: You’ve got a great career now, but did you used to worry that if you didn’t take a job, who knew when the next one would come?
CO: “It’s slightly that but it’s also about being really tough when it comes to you, you might want to do that film, but going from that film straight to that film where they’ve already started shooting and you’ve got to get on a plane and go, you’re not going to be ready enough to do it justice. There is a privilege in knowing that there are things around I’m being offered. So it’s not like if I turn that down, there’s going to be nothing else there to take its place, but I think it’s very important to me that I don’t jump from one to another. I’m not very good at it.”
Q: Is it also balance between family and career?
CO: “It ties in exactly the same with the family in terms of when you domovies tied together, it means you’re away for a very, very long time. That’s not good. So I’ve been very lucky. The rhythm the last year or two. For instance this last year I spent the entire summer holidays from when the girls broke from school until they went back, home with them. Then I went off to Australia and did a film there but the rhythm’s good. It feels like there’s proper family time and there’s proper work time and it’s important to make time for your family life. I’m lucky. Not everybody has the privilege of that choice.”
Q: What was the worst audition you‘ve ever had?
CO: “There were quite a few. The days when I used to come to LA with a very small little film, like I’d come on the back of some tiny film that had a tiny distribution like Close My Eyes or Bent, going around and doing the rounds then was pretty tough because you were meeting the assistant of the assistant of the assistant who asks you questions like, ‘Do you play goodies or baddies?’ Or the common one was, ‘So, you do a lot of theatre.’ It was pretty soul destroying, I must admit.”
Q: Any plans for stage?
CO: “I’ve been thinking about doing a play but I haven’t got one that I’m desperate to do. I haven’t done a play for seven years. Again, I’d really need some appetite. I don’t want to just do a play. I want to really want to do it and there isn’t anything that I’ve been offered or a play up my sleeve that I’m desperate to do. But if the right thing came along, yeah, I would do a play.”
Q: How much do you do your own stunts?
CO: “I’ll always do as much as I can. At some point it becomes unsafe and I’m perfectly willing for somebody else to step in and do the dangerous stuff. I’m not one of those actors that runs around going, ‘I’ve got to do it all, I’ve got to do it all.’ I will do as much as I can for it to be believable and I want to do as much as I can, but I have no qualms. If someone says to me, ‘This is now getting to a dangerous level,’ I’ll go, ‘That’s what this man’s paid for.”