October 2003
Beyond Borders : An Interview with Clive Owen

Interviewed by Caroline Memnon

Beyong Boders: An Interview with Clive Owen

Ever since he came to recognition with his amazing and critically acclaimed performance in “Croupier”, Clive Owen has been working non-stop. Most recently he was part of an extraordinary ensemble in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park” and was featured with Matt Damon in last year’s “Bourne Identity”. His recognition has grown further with his starring role in “The Hire”, BMW’s internet short features series directed by some famous directors such as Ang Lee and Guy Ritchie. In his latest film, Beyond Borders, Owen stars opposite Angelina Jolie as Nick Callahan, a doctor who goes above the norm to secure funding and food for the malnourished people living in Africa, Cambodia, and Chechnya. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Owen speaks about his role in the film as well as his role in Antwoine Fuqua’s next film, King Arthur.

CM: How was working on “Beyond Borders”?

CO: It was an amazing project to work. I had a very strong response when I read the script, really strong. I finished it, called the agent and said, “If you can get me this one, this is the one. I was desperate to do it. It was an amazing character and an amazing story to tell. His ultimate objective is trying to keep as many people alive as he can in these awful hostile environments. He’s a complicated character and there some people who were nervous about the character before we started shooting because he’s obnoxious, arrogant, and unlikable. I never saw that. I finished the script and I felt him completely redeemable because he was actively out there trying to save people’s lives and that’s the bottom line. That’s his bottom line, he didn’t care about whether people liked him or not as a character and I thought that was the best way to approach it as an actor. It wasn’t about being charming, it wasn’t about being likeable it was about achieving his objective. Often unorthodox, often inappropriate behavior, he’s fallible, he’s a human being, he’s not perfect or a hero but to me it was all redeemable because of what he was trying to do.

CM: What did you think about plotline concerning Angelina Jolie’s character? Is there room for romance when you think of the subject matter?

CO: I think ultimately it’s a love story. That’s the nature of the film. It becomes about two extreme people, these two active people who are actually out there doing it. That is the way you are invited into these worlds and they’re not doing a half-human depiction of running a relief camp. It is this love story but you are constantly grappling with the combination of people in desperate need. It’s a weird combination.

CM: When you think about the subject matter, were you at ease making the film?

CO: It’s an unusually healthy experience making the film, because everyone cared about the film and wanted to do it with integrity. Everyone assumes it would be tough, harrowing, and hard and it wasn’t really for me. It was a joy to be involved with these people in this sort of work.

CM: How was working as The Driver in the online short film BMW series, The Hire?

CO: It was incredible; it was a gift really because there were some serious world directors there. Short films, ten minute movies, just going from one to the other, it’s a massive experience for me to jump from one director to the other. The main thing I learned is their rules are all so different, they’re all so hugely talented in their own way, and just to get a taste of them all was a treat.

CM: Can you talk about some of the things you learned from directors Tony Scott and John Woo, who worked on some of the short films?

CO: The biggest thing you learn is how quickly you have to get up and running because these are short films. Most of the times when you’re making a movie you need 200 actors, a director, and it takes time. This is immediate. Bang, in. Bang, out. Because of that you have to adapt quickly to the situations. It was a treat. Because of the competitive nature of directors they all knew that other people were doing ones so everyone one was sort of ‘on’, because ultimately they knew (the shorts) would be a DVD and they all want theirs to stand up.

CM: There have been rumors that you might be in line to be the next James Bond. Care to comment?

CO: You read what I read. There’s so much bullshit in this game and I’ve learned very quickly to deal just in fact and there’s no fact in it and unless it becomes a fact there’s no point in even thinking about it.

CM: What’s next on your schedule?

CO: I’m currently shooting King Arthur with Jerry Bruckheimer and Antoine Fuqua directing which is really exciting. It’s pretty huge. And then I’m doing a Mike Nichols film called Closer. I was in the original production. I actually played the other part, the part that Jude Law will be playing in the movie.

CM: Will King Arthur be any different from what we have come to know in regards to the sword and his rise to fame?

CO: This is a pretty radical take, it’s not the version we’re used to. It’s set earlier then normal, it’s not set in the medieval. It’s 500 A.D. and the Roman Empire is collapsing and putting out Britain. There’s a half-Roman half-British commander of an elite group of knights that are basically given the mission from hell. Hugely exciting, and we’re doing some very exciting stuff. Antoine Fuqua is a pretty inspiring choice (as director) because he has a very dynamic, cinematic approach to a subject like this.

CM: What’s more exciting to make nowadays, big-budgeted films like “Beyond Borders” or small independent films like “Gosford Park”? What are you comfortable doing?

CO: I love making movies and ultimately to make movies you have to have some level of success so that you want to make movies with the good people. It is a business and the good people don’t employ you if you’re unemployable. If you have a certain amount of success you can justify a certain budget; so for me the whole thing is just about trying to open up the opportunity to work with the best people and not if it’s about big movies or small movies.