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22 “Some stinkers get the worst reviews and yet they’re guaranteed box-office smashes”  The cult interview with Clive Owen

“Some stinkers get the worst reviews and yet they’re guaranteed box-office smashes” The cult interview with Clive Owen


British actor Clive Owen is your thoroughly modern Hollywood hunk: smart, he knows how to play the movie game and doesn’t even live in Hollywood. 

Clive Owen by David Bailey. Clive Owen by David Bailey.
Clive Owen by David Bailey.

What’s the hardest thing about being a Hollywood hunk?

You’d have to ask one.



Do you get hounded by the paparazzi?

I try not to court them. Sometimes they can become a little overbearing, depending on the context you’re in. But on the whole, I tend to fly under the radar and steer clear of the kind of parties and restaurants they stake out.


Have you ever wound up with any weird stalkers or screaming groupies chained to your fence?
I’ve had a few cases of obsessive fans.



Is your wife cool with your status as an international sex symbol?

We’ve been together for a very long time, so she’s pretty use to it.



Does being in the spotlight make you overly concerned – or even paranoid – about the way you look?

Not particularly, no. There’s certainly something to be said about the fact that you get clocked as soon as you step out in the street.



To what extent is your success as an actor directly contingent upon your brooding good looks?
There’s no denying that looks are all-important in the film industry. But then again, it’s a weird thing, because in the last couple of years I’ve done a few films in which directors have been hell-bent on making me look as shitty as possible. Tom Tykwer, for instance, kept joking on my film, The International, the he wanted to make me look even worse than in Children of Men. If ever that’s possible.



Do you have your teeth whitened, chest waxed and forehead botoxed on a regular basis?

No. I do however go to the gym pretty regularly, which is fine because I’ve been working out at the same place for ages and they’re accustomed to seeing me there, which means that I can get about my business without people gawking at me.



Do you look anything like Matthew McConaughey in your tighty whities?
I definitely do not look anything like Matthew McConaughey in my tighty whities.


Which of your physical attributes are you most unhappy with?

I hate to say, but I don’t get that freaked out about the way I look. I’m not one of those guys who spends hours sizing themselves up in front of the bathroom mirror.

“Children of Men”(2006) – Trailer.

Do actors rake in more cash from their brand endorsements than they do from their actual day jobs?



Why then has brand endorsement become so rampant in Hollywood of late?

I probably wouldn’t have been doing Lancôme ten years ago, simply because there wasn’t such a thing as male skin care back then. These days, you only have to step into your average department store to find tons of products for men. It’s a whole new market. 



What do actors’ pay-checks depend on? Their box-office pull?
Acting is pretty much like any other business. It’s all about the bottom line, and you’re paid what they think you’re worth.



What does the man who has everything – the looks, the career, the recognition, the cash, the wife and the kids – most sorely lack?

I honestly don’t want for much at all. Touch wood, I’m very blessed with my lot; I have a full career and a beautiful, solid family. The one strain is spending time away from the kids due to my constant travelling. I choose to live in London rather than in America, which means that I’m constantly flying to Los Angeles, and it’s difficult. My kids are now at an age when I can’t pull them out of school, and the time we spend apart is my biggest concern on a daily basis. I don’t want them to hit their teens thinking that their dad wasn’t there for them when they most needed him, during their formative years.



Are movie critics as rabid as their fashion counterparts?

It all depends. My pet hate is critics who are too present in their reviews, when the write-up has more to do with its author than it does with the actual film itself. A good critic will talk about a film intelligently; a bad one will put himself to the fore and plaster his personality all over the review.


To what extent do bad reviews affect ticket sales?

It depends. Very often, the huge Hollywood blockbusters are 100% foolproof. We’ve seen it. Some stinkers get the worst reviews and yet they’re guaranteed box-office smashes. It all depends on the way they’re pushed, placed and positioned. Independent movies are much more vulnerable to bad reviews, because the people who read the magazines and newspapers constitute their sole audience. They’re not going to have some huge Hollywood powerhouse championing them and spending vast amounts of time and money on promotion.



Have you ever walked out of an interview?

I walked out of an interview for a job, when I was very young and I thought that the director was being a dick.



Are the Oscars as fun as they’re made out to seem, or is the red-carpet experience completely over-rated?

The Oscar ceremony is the best part of any actor’s career. I’ve been there a few times, and the first time I went I was fortunate enough to be nominated. I had a ball, an absolute blast. There were all these parties, and all these people that I’d respected for years. It’s a big celebration of film, and I always have the time of my life.


Do fashion houses send trunk-loads of suits to your hotel suite?

They certainly do, but I’m very loyal to Giorgio Armani and I never wear anything else.



Is that because Armani slips you a big fat check?

No. I’m not obligated in any way at all. It’s a reciprocal thing: I love his clothes, and he likes putting them on me, and that works for me.


To what extent are actors still acting when they’re being interviewed?
To a lesser extent than they are in their movies, but to a certain extent, they are, for sure.



Don’t tell me that the mind-numbing blurbs that actors spew out on DVD bonuses aren’t scripted.

Believe it or not, they aren’t scripted. But no actor is ever going to sit there and say that the movie he’s selling sucks. That’s just never gonna happen.



[Archives Numéro, april 2008]