22 October 2009

Clive: The Golden Age

LoFiFest screenings/events attended: 4
Red carpets crossed: 2
Directors sighted: 2 (although Scott Hicks twice)
Clive Owen sighted: 2
Questions posed by me during Q&A: 1

The last time I attended a live event specifically to see a celebrity in the flesh was when I dragged The Ex to see A Life in the Theatre a few years ago. Never mind that Patrick Stewart was in it and screw the play; I was keen to see Pacey from Dawson's Creek Joshua Jackson. The play did turn out to be good too, luckily, and Pacey didn't do too bad a job given that he was acting opposite Patrick Stewart.

There were no red carpets outside the BFI tonight for the London Film Festival Screen Talk with Clive Owen, but that was probably a good thing as it would have distracted me from the real purpose of the evening. There were a lot more men present than I thought there would be and unlike A Life in the Theatre where most of the audience consisted of screaming 17-year-old girls (while I was all of 21), the average age of the ladies present was a lot higher. There were no gimmicks this time--Jason Solomons, who was doing the interview, came onto the stage and introduced Clive. I had a fairly good seat--near the front, although off to the right, which gave a good view of the stage, even though a large woman in front of me kept getting her big head in my photos. I took a couple of short videos in which he talks about Chancer, Julia Roberts and having to fly 5,000 miles at short notice to pick up an award he didn't win.

Starting the story of how he got into acting after leaving school and spending two years on the dole even though he'd got into a good drama school because he didn't want to go to drama school, he eventually realised it was the only way he'd be able to become an actor and got accepted to RADA, on the basis of an audition that consisted of a very off-colour speech from his local youth theatre group's latest play and Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The interview then started with his early screen work, including Chancer, which, he said, led to him being called Clive "Chancer" Owen in every newspaper review for the next 15 years (after which point he became Clive "Croupier" Owen). Unfortunately, there wasn't a clip from Chancer, although I suppose I have watched it too many times already.

Then came Croupier and Gosford Park and then the Hollywood years: Closer, Children of Men, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Duplicity and so on. There was no mention of Sin City but he did talk briefly about his role in the Bourne Identity, where he--unusually--dies ("you don't die very often, do you Clive?" sez the interviewer). He took the role in that film because of an amazing chase sequence towards the end, which involved running down into the Paris Metro and various other clever stunts. It was, of course, cut down in the final edit to a couple of seconds of him running across some grass before getting shot by Matt Damon. The cool shoot-out in the New York Guggenheim in The International seems to have made up for it though.

At last, it was time for audience questions. I had two (serious) questions: 1) were there ever any plans for a new series or film of Chancer set 20 years on and if not, did he imagine Chancer would still be up to his old tricks or would he have settled down? 2) Had he ever considered directing a film? Unfortunately, I didn't get chosen, although at least the last question asked was my second question--answer: yes, he had considered it and would be keen to do so if the right film came along. He tended to be quite general in his answers--someone asked who the favourite character he'd played was (whichever one he's working on next) and someone asked what the most challenging role he'd ever played was (I can't remember his exact answer but he didn't cite a specific character or film).

Finally, he seemed very concerned at the thought of "[his] bum appearing on the screen" when the interviewer mentioned he had a clip from an early film, Close My Eyes--I'll have to try to find a copy of this film even if he does play a character who has an incestuous relationship with his sister! And then he left. Goodbye, Clive; until next time. Reading the production notes, afterwards, I realised that the question of his real date of birth was further confounded. On IMDb, the date is given as October 3, 1962 but used to say October 3, 1964; the BFI's notes said October 30, 1964. Someone this elusive could only be a Scorpio so I'm going to assume the BFI are correct!

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