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March 2006
Inside Man : An Interview with Clive Owen

Inside Man: An Interview with Clive Owen , continued

by Wilson Morales

You said that spike has a really good knack for fleshing out things, how do you find your rhythm?

Clive Owen:  You just sort of slot in and do that.  Every director has a different way of working and part of the joy of being an actor is adapting and working with different styles.  Spike shoots incredibly fast and he's very dynamic and very clear about what he wants and you get ready to go very quickly.  I just slotted in and had a very good time with him.  Ultimately it's really about having respect for the people you work with and if you have got that everything becomes very easy.  I have with Spike and it was a pleasure to work for him.

Denzel was saying that this was a hot set, warm.  You must have been miserable going to work with that stupid mask on, right?  Was it difficult?

Clive Owen:  I never like talking about things are uncomfortable, it’s a minor thing.  It was a hot summer and we were shooting inside and I did have to put that mask on but listen, I'm there shooting a movie.  I'm having a great time, it wasn't anything but a small deal really.

'The Children Of Men' does it stay close to the novel and is it going to be as disturbing?

Clive Owen:  I think it could be definitely as disturbing.  It has taken the central theme, it's definitely the same story but the actual elements of the book have been changed quite a lot.  Alfonso [Cuaron] has taken the premise, it's still set 30 years in the future, the conceit is still the same, that no one has had a baby anywhere for 18 years and our reluctant hero is linked up with the only pregnant girl on the planet.  That's still the same thing but Alfonso is really done a really fascinating unusual exploration of where things could be going and that's still very, very strong in the movie.  It's a very unusual take, people are assuming it's a Sci-Fi movie and it's almost the opposite of that, it's like now but worse is the environment we are living in, it's not futuristic, it's like things have not ended up that great and we are in a world where there are no children which is a pretty bleak place.  He's created a very, half the movie is a chase movie really, but it's a really extraordinary vision of the future.

With this movie being about bank heists, has it changed your relationship with banks? 

Clive Owen:  No, I'm still the same. [Laughs]  I still go in and cash my checks.  It hasn't changed.

What is it like to get 50 people to take off their clothes?  Waltzing around all of those extras playing the hostages is kind of strange. 

Clive Owen:  Yeah, cause there were some very feisty characters that Spike knows that he got in for those parts.  Listen that was all in the script and some of that was very much a free wheeling thing that Spike said 'Look, lets just go with this, lets just shoot.  This is the general area, let's just go with it.' And he took pieces from it and used pieces from it.  He stuck pretty close to the script but there was definitely a bit of free wheeling involved with that, in terms of I'm not bossing those extras, they were all playing a part, we all were doing that together.

Did you surprise him with any extra things you threw in there?  Especially when you were working with your team?  I mean there was a lot of things that we didn't really get to know about the relationship between the team, so did you work out things when you did it?

Clive Owen:  There were sometimes when he would just throw a situation at me and say 'Look, this is going to happen, just see how you deal with it.' The stuff with the lady who wouldn't take her clothes off, that was very much a free wheeling.  [Laughs] 

So there was a fair amount of improv?

Owen:  Yeah, there was, yeah.  There was more of it really with the police interviewing the suspects, that was the main area of improvisation.  There was some of it within the heist itself but I would say there was more of it with Denzel interviewing the suspects. 

When she said 'You should be ashamed of yourself' that was planned?

Clive Owen:  That was pretty much improve, that whole little bit.

As you keep doing more and more roles do you have projects that you yourself want to develop? 

Clive Owen:  Not really, I'm pretty much an actor for hire.  I like the idea of getting a script in and getting excited by it and wanting to do it.  There is nothing that I've got that's a driving ambition to do.  I'm very excited of not knowing what's coming up.   I love the idea that some gem of a script can come through and suddenly you are all excited, infused, and ready to go to work.

Are there any novels you have read that you would like to see yourself in?

Clive Owen:  No, I'm not like that.  I've never been like that, even when I was doing theatre there was no great role that I wanted to play.  I know it when its put in front of me and I think 'Yeah, I’d love to do that.' but I've no long term big ambition or plan to play any particular part.

You are becoming more and more a matinee idol, you are very easy on the eyes.  What are some of the perks about being you?

Clive Owen:  Many perks.  I'm a very lucky boy, I've got a fantastic family back in London and I'm having the time of my life in my work.  For me, I went to drama school a long time ago and to me it was always the work that was the important thing, not everything else.  It's about getting the opportunity to work with the best people and I keep working with really incredibly talented people and that's enough for me.  I don't need anything more than that so if it just continues I'll be very happy.

How did you prepare for this role?  Did you actually read about bank robbers?

Clive Owen:  No, I just put a mask on my face and kept going over and over my lines to make sure they weren't mumbled.  To make sure you could distinguish what I was saying.  I'm not a great one for huge amounts of research.  I sue the script as the platform to go and do it and as long as I know what I'm talking about I don'[t ever feel the need to go off and immerse myself in any world, I think it's more just trying to execute what the writer has intended.  That's just the way I approach it.

Can you talk about the actual scene of tumbling down with Denzel?  How you did that scene together and did you get hurt?

Clive Owen:  No, it was done with the help of other people.  We all put the scene together. 

Denzel would grab you and there would be a mattress on the floor?

Clive Owen:  Exactly, we were helped.  It was worked out.

How do you with your kids, sustain the separation?  Do you worry that they are not going to know you?

Clive Owen:  No, I've been very fortunate because as things have taken off a lot of those things have been close to home.  Alfonso's movie which I did for a large part of last year was all shot out of London.  I'm in Toronto now and this is the longest we will be apart.  The next movie I am doing is back in London and then I'll take a sizeable break.  I've ended up in a situation where I'm doing 4 movies back to back and they were all things I wanted to do and that's just the way it panned out, if I wanted to do them, they shifted and moved and I could make it work.  I decided to go for it so I'll do this spell and then I'll take a long time out and just hang with the kids for awhile. 

Will you do a family movie ever?  A Disney movie?

Clive Owen:  I would like to do one for the kids, I really would.  They don't get to see much of what I do and it would be nice to do one for them.

Was there ever a plan b in case acting didn't work out for you?

Clive Owen:  There was never a plan B, it had to happen for me because that was all I ever wanted to do.  I remember way back in my school they used to say, 'You need to have another career, you need to do something else.' And I was always like that's what I'm going to do.  Sometimes having a back up career… there is something about when you have got to do it, you have got to do it.  You certainly need the breaks, I've had some very big important breaks but there was nothing else I ever wanted to do.  It scares me the idea of not doing this because I don't know what it is I would have ended up doing.

What was the down time like on the set when you were shooting?

Clive Owen:  It was a really lovely environment on Spike's set.  It was a very cool environment.  There isn't an awful lot of downtime on his sets because he shoots so fast.  Because he shoots in both directions at the same time, once you are on you are pretty full on.  He shoots very, very fast.  Once he's got it he moves quickly and you are on to the next thing very quickly.  It was a very healthy working environment.  He's got a very strong work ethic and you drive through the day.  It was a really healthy working environment.


INSIDE MAN opens on March 24th. 2006

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