Clive Owen isn't afraid to mess up his leading-man good looks. He was tattered, torn and forced to flee in flip-flops in Children of Men, and he could have used a shave playing a scruffy gunman in Shoot 'Em Up.
Now, he's down and dirty again in The International, but it doesn't diminish his sex appeal as an Interpol agent taking on an evil banking conglomerate attempting to take over the world.
From hunting down corrupt bankers with Naomi Watts in The International to hatching the ultimate scheme with Julia Roberts in Duplicity, it's just another day at the office for Owen.
Q: Didn't you wish you had looked a little more like James Bond in this movie?
A: Not at all, I don't mind looking like I need a good wash and a good meal. There's no vanity about my character and I think that's real. His absolute obsessive passion is trying to bring a bank down. He doesn't care how he looks. So I just stopped shaving and left it to the make-up people to make sure I looked bad in every scene.
Q: Aren't you worried it could erode your reputation as a sex symbol?
A: Any actor who starts taking 'sex symbol' seriously or thinks of themselves as a sex symbol has got some serious problems. When I'm in my normal life I care very little about how I look. Sometimes I have to dress up when I'm making movies, but that's not me when I'm just hanging around.
Q: Making a bank the villain in the movie makes it seem like it was based on today's headlines.
A: The timing of it is unreal, which is pretty incredible considering that we finished shooting a year ago and the script was developed two years prior to that. This is a film that's looking at a huge bank and asking questions like, 'Do they use your money appropriately? Are they decent, honorable institutions?' And a lot of people are looking at their own financial institutions and asking the same questions at the moment.
Q: Once again, you're on the run and in the middle of a lot of spills and thrills. Do you work hard to stay in shape for the action scenes?
A: I do before we film because you hit the ground running. You're working long days and you do have to be fit and ready for it. But when they say 'wrap,' you give it up completely. You have five pints of Guinness and just let it go.
Q: How do you feel about packing guns and wasting bad guys?
A: Scarily, it gets very comfortable very quickly. Once you use guns for a little while and handle them a bit, it feels quite natural. After doing Shoot 'Em Up with bullets flying constantly, I knew I would never need any more gun training ever. But, I'd be a liar if I didn't say there's a little boy in me that does these crazy shoot outs with this guy and then goes, 'Oh, yeah!' There's a bit of me that finds it a lot of fun.
Q: You're a great dad and seem as happy at home as you are on a film set.
A: My family is hugely important to me and the most centering thing in my life. I go off and make movies, but there's nothing better than going home and hanging with my girls. They completely boss me. I have no power in my house whatsoever. I am the geek of my household. I am so low-status in my house, you wouldn't believe it, definitely not a movie star.
Q: Next we'll see you in Duplicity, co-starring with Julia Roberts.
A: I know, it's a tough life! First, Naomi Watts and then Julia Roberts as my leading ladies. Actually, when I read the script I didn't know Julia was going to be in it. I just finished the last page and I jumped on the phone and rang the agent and said, 'This is the one, this is the one.' It was a brilliantly written script and Tony Gilroy, who did Michael Clayton, is directing. I was like, 'Oh God! How bad do I want to do this film?' Then, Julia signed on and it was just like, 'Yes!' It was like a gift.
Q: Ever wonder what you might have done if you hadn't become an actor?
A: I've only ever wanted to do this and I've never thought about doing anything else. The idea of doing anything else terrifies me. That's a scary proposition. If anyone took acting away and said, 'What could you do, what would you do?' I'd be lost.
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