The International: Clive Owen Q&A

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The International: Clive Owen Q&A

By Bex Vince.

The Electric Palace is one of my favourite cinemas, I have been going to watch films there for as long as I can remember. The cinema used to be full, and on a number of occasions when I was growing up extra seats had to be provided to make sure everyone was catered for. Sadly the cinema fell on hard times and was in desperate need of expensive repair work. Clive Owen became patron of the cinema in 2006 and helped lunch the Electric Palace appeal to raise the much-needed £85,000 for repairs. This quote taken from the Electric Palace website shows Clive’s response to being patron. “I’m really proud to be asked to be Patron of this very special cinema,” he said. “This building is not only a beautiful and historic one, it is also a very important one. I got my film education going to all the old rep cinemas like this one.”

The charity screening of The International raised just over £1,500 for The Electric Palace Trust, Clive Owen also persuaded Sony to let the cinema have a screening of it on the third day of it release. He then introduced the film by saying “So welcome everybody. It’s fantastic to see this place so full, I’m sure you will all know I am a huge fan of this cinema, and to see it completely full is really fantastic. I urge you if ever there is a choice to go see a film always choose this place, it really does need your support. I won’t say too much about the film because you’re about to see it so I don’t want to spoil anything. I’ve been running round for the last few weeks opening it literally all over the world, and I promise you this is my favourite cinema to screen it in. I will be back at the end of the film to answer any questions anybodys got about the making of the film, so please just enjoy it.”

Tom Tykwer directs The International, Clive Owen plays Interpol investigator Louis Salinger a man who is obsessed with linking the International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC) with dealing in arms sales to third world countries. Salinger works along side Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts). They want to bring justice to the powerful bank the International Bank of Business and Credit, as they find this is the bank of choice for criminals and organised crime. They undercover illegal activities including money laundering and arms trading. Salinger and Whitman follow the trail left by the bank and travel around the world trying to bring it down.

They only have a certain amount of time before their investigation is shut down and the bank is lost forever. The game is dangerous when the bank your playing with has a way of eliminating anything that may get in their way. The IBBC sends an assassin to kill the Italian Prime ministerial candidate, following a lead on the assassin Salinger heads to New York City and is involved in a shoot out in the Guggenheim Museum, this scene is dramatically cinematic and very well choreographed. Salinger tracks town the assassin’s handler who tells Salinger a way to bring down the IBBC.
He tells Whitman she cannot protect the man, because they will get to him and if they cannot get to him they will get to her and her family he tells her to walk away. “Your walking away so I don’t have to”.Stalinger then heads to Istanbul where the IBBC are conducting an arms deal;Stalinger plans to record the conversation in order to bring the bank down. There is a dramatic show down on a rooftop in Istanbul, now I don’t want to give away the end of the film so I will stop now. I think Clive Owen brings depth to the role and is as watchable as ever as the damaged Interpol agent, the film is convincing and is very timely to the credit crunch and banking situation.

Question and Answers with Clive Owen

Clive Owen held a question and answer session after the screening of The International; these are some of the questions asked and direct quotes from Clive himself.

Are you allowed an input in the film? “I work with directors that I think will collaborate with me, and that we have a very tight relationship with. It was a great collaboration with Tom; I really rate him very highly…. That collaboration with a director is very important.”

Which director would you most like to work with that you haven’t had chance to yet? “This is the great thing about movies, is that there is such a huge amount of variety of brilliant directors, a director who I am particularly keen on at the moment I’m sure as a lot of people saw There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson, I think he’s a pretty rare special talent and I think he is pretty unique.”

How did you feel when you knew you were cast in the role and that you were able to go in front of the camera and do that? “Every time you do a film your starting from scratch. It’s a very weird thing acting no matter how much experience you have got, no matter how much you do, every time you start filming there is the potential to be bad in it and to fall flat on you face. I tend to get very nervous at the beginning of every film, just until I am a few weeks in. It was very difficult in this movie because the first scene that we shot was that very last scene on top of the roofs in Istanbul. And we literally started the movie out there, so we did the very very end of the movie before we had shot anything. You always shoot movies out of sequence but it was particularly difficult in this movie, because its such a big journey that guy travels literally all over the world in pursuit of this guy and eventually they come together at the end…. In terms of feeling comfortable I spend a lot of time on the script before we started shooting, I will read it over and over again, I don’t know if ever you feel comfortable…everyday there is new challenges, new things that you have got to do. I just do as best I can.”

Why do you do what you do? (Referring to why Clive is patron of the Electric Palace) “I’ve known this cinema for a very long time, I’ve got connections with this area and this cinema. I am literally kind of in love with this cinema. I think it is just an incredible and unique place, it’s run by a brilliant team of people and they are not only crazy about this cinema but they are crazy about cinema. I love the fact that the place is totally authentic, its not been made as trendy old cinema it feels really authentic and its my favourite place to come and watch movies. Cinemas like this one are becoming increasingly rare. Most people now go to huge multiplexes with 20 screens you sort of bombarded with every kind of soft drink and every kind of sweet. This place is holding onto something that I think is hugely important. I would just rather see a film in this cinema than I would any other cinema every time.”

Would you ever do any directing? “I have thought about it, I have worked very closely with a lot of directors, it is something I sometimes think about. To be honest with you the rhythm of acting compared to directing is very different. It is a minimum of 2 years commitment to direct a movie, from the period of getting the script together, going and shooting it and then post production. I will do a film like this Tom has been preparing it for anything up to a year before I join. I shoot for a few months I go off I make 2 other movies, I come back and he’s still in the tunnel of The International editing it and finishing it off. For me to direct I would have to come up with something I felt so passionate about… I’ve never really come across anything I’m that crazy about, but it is defiantly something I would think about. I just need to find something I would want to stop the whole acting thing for a while.”

Obviously you have been on Stage, TV and Film, when you first graduated where did you see yourself being? “I got very into theatre I went to drama school and studied theatre when I first left drama school that’s where I went into, that’s kind of what I was about. There’s no question that I think every actor if they’re really honest would like to do movies. Even the biggest theatre actors you know who say they love the theatre and the theatre’s where its at deep deep down would like to be movie stars. I would never have dreamed of the opportunities that came to me.”

Are you ever temped in the multitude of scripts that come your way to diverge sometimes and move into something completely different from what were used to seeing you do? “The last few years I feel I have done quite a wide range of different types of movies and different things. If there is a common thing amongst the parts I play I do tend to enjoy playing characters in some sort of conflict, characters that are sort of grappling with something I think Is more interesting doing that than it is playing very straight forward things. I feel much more comfortable if I feel a character has conflict going on. To me conflict means drama…. I try and keep it as varied a I can.”

The scene is the market (in Istanbul) was it using extras? “That was us catching it on the sly really. What happened there was we went into the grand bazaar, there is no way you can control an area as big as that, with as many people as that. Pretty much I was sent in there the camera was quite a way away on a long lens. The two of us were sent in there, I was actually carrying a gun in my hand as well, a security guy was standing 10 feet away from me all the time in case there was any trouble. And then we just shot and marched into the grand bazaar…. That scene was very much we went in there and tried to catch it.”

Do you think you will ever go back to theatre? “I trained in theatre and it was defiantly my first love, my first love is now movies, I prefer making movies, I do love theatre and I would go back if I was excited about the play. There is something to me about the collaboration of making a movie, the team effort the way all these brilliant people come together…. the thing about making movies is that collaboration and I love being part of that. I haven’t done a play for a long time but I’ve been offered some I just haven’t been excited enough to make me want to go back and do that.”

I have heard there is an Inside Man 2? “There writing the script which is very close to being finished, they have been talking about doing Inside Man 2 for a while. They’re finally making a very concentrated effort at the moment and the script will be delivered very soon. Then it will just be whether Spike, myself, Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster, if we all agree to do it, and we all like it then we will do it. I mean Spike has become a very good friend, I had a great time on the first one and if the script is great I will defiantly be there. Its very hard making a sequel and a good sequel, we just have to hope that the script is good.”

(photo of Clive Owen taken from

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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