Hollywood star Clive Owen says it is futile to carry the burden of past performances, no matter how good they are, as there is no “safe space” for a working actor.
Owen says it is a blessing that his name does not conjure up a particular image in audiences’ mind and that has largely to do with his varied filmography that includes critically-acclaimed titles such as Croupier, Closer, Sin City to Children of Men.
“I’m just a working actor and I go from part to part, doing the best I can. Sometimes actors, they have a big breakthrough in a particular kind of movie and they want to protect that. They think that’s where I’m safe and good.
“But I’ve never wanted to do that. I don’t mind turning everything on its head. I think for an actor it’s good for people not to feel that they know exactly what you do. It gives you more freedom to change and do something else,” Owen told PTI in an interview.
The actor says being unpredictable in his film choices has given him enough room to do a project with an Italian filmmaker, be a part of a West End play and then star in a big production like Gemini Man, in which he is paired opposite Will Smith.
Owen credits his training in the British theatre for teaching him the value of variety.
“I never go ‘That’s clever. That’s the kind of actor Clive Owen is and I want to keep a hold of that’. My career has always been like that… I don’t know what kind of actor I’m. I don’t ever want to get into a groove where I feel like that’s the kind of actor I am. Because I don’t know what kind of actor I’m,” he says.
Gemini Man, about a retired assassin being hunted down by his younger clone, has Owen playing a morally duplicitous scientist who has a misguided love for his adopted son.
The actor liked the fact that he was not playing “this mustache twirling sort of evil guy” but someone who “believes in what he’s doing”.
“There is great love for his son, however misplaced it all really is,” he says about his role in the Ang Lee-directed movie.
Smith, in a press conference earlier this month, spoke about how Lee sat down and critically reviewed his past performances to digitally recreate the character of Junior, his young clone.
Owen says Lee shared similar notes on his performance too.
“He gave me a couple of notes, which made me go, ‘Do I do that as an actor?’ He’s just very specific. But I love working with directors that challenge you, because when they’re smart, and they’re good, they can only make you better. So I never mind being challenged.”
The actor believes the Academy award-winning director was perfect to helm a film of this complex nature as he is “very light touch” in his approach.
“Ang is a powerhouse and he has this terribly nice, gentle demeanour. He’s very light touch. But he can give you a note that sort of crushes you to the core. He is very incisive when he needs to be.”
There is a different rhythm to sci-fi films and “Gemini Man”, which boasts of the first digitally-created human and has been shot in the high frame rate, was no different but Owen says it did not take him a lot of time to get used to the technology.
“A lot of my stuff was with the young Will, which meant Will acting with this big headgear with a camera. But honestly, all of that stuff disappears quickly. Once you are in the scene, actors’ instincts are the same everywhere. Yes, it is a different rhythm but it all disappears when you’re actually doing the work.”
The film also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong.
Distributed exclusively in India by Viacom18, Gemini Man, a Paramount Pictures movie, released on October 11.