Clive Owen talks career highlights, James Bond and TV series

Clive Owenthe guest of this episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Reward Discussions The podcast — which was recorded in front of a live audience at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic, where Owen received the festival’s President’s Award, and was hosted by Lasvit, a bohemian design and craft house that creates exquisite glass art — is one of the world’s most admired actors in theater and screen.

Best known for films such as Mike Nichols‘s Closer (2004) and Spike Lee‘s The man inside (2006) and television shows including Steven Soderbergh‘s The Knick (2014-15) and, in the last year, two limited series, Murder at the End of the World And Mr. SpadeThe 59-year-old man was described by The Guardian as “one of our best actors”, by the New York Times as a “thinking, handsome guy” who possesses “volcanic charisma” and by Interview magazine as “one of the most intensely watchable actors on screen and stage.”

In an hour-long conversation, the BAFTA and Golden Globe winner and Oscar, Emmy, SAG and Critics Choice Award nominee reflected on his journey from a difficult childhood to his starring role in the 1998 independent film Croupier; why he was not enthusiastic about the prospect of playing James Bond, for which he had long been considered; what it was like to play different characters in the stage and film versions of Closer; why, since The Knickhe worked more and more on television; and much more.

You can listen to the full conversation via the audio player above or read a lightly edited transcript below.

Clive, congratulations on the festival honour and thank you for doing this.


In this podcast, we go back to the very beginning. Can you tell our listeners where you were born and raised and what your parents did for a living?

I grew up in a small town called Coventry, which is in the Midlands, in a very working class family. I came from a council estate. I went to a pretty tough school and I did a school play when I was about 13, playing the role of the Artful Dodger in Olivier !. And I thought, “This is what I have to do.” It was a very unlikely scenario because of where I came from, but there was a small youth theater in my hometown called the Belgrade Youth Theater, and the guy who ran it ended up running the Royal Shakespeare Company, which is one of the most prestigious theater companies in the world. But his first job was running the Belgrade Youth Theater, and we did translations of Gogol and plays by Lope de Vega, and that’s when I really knew I had to do this.

You used the word “rough” to describe your childhood earlier and in other interviews. Do you think that Is it linked to your attraction to acting, to the desire to escape into someone else’s shoes for a little while?

I’m sure that’s part of it, but I also think that…

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