Owen is James Bond
current English actor can present a patina of debonair charm while
maintaining a threat of elemental danger in quite the way Owen can."
In a flurry of internet speculation mistaken for fact, Clive Owen was
all but announced as James Bond. Fans began to wish him well. It was
hard to think of a more logical candidate to inherit the 007 mantle.
6'2. Dark and handsome. A little rough around the edges (Owen with his
broken nose looked like a man who had seen a few scraps in his time. 'A
rough looking customer' to quote Fleming). More than that, an
interesting actor with a unique style. He seemed more than capable of
adding some innate darkness and complexity to the character, and
appealing to purists never entirely won over by Pierce Brosnan. "Clive
Owen is James Bond" screamed the fan art posters.
Fast forward to the present. Daniel Craig is James Bond and Bond fans
of a certain bent (agenda?) are tripping over themselves to trash Clive
Owen. Daniel Craig is now the greatest actor currently drawing breath -
and thank God we didn't get that charmless block of wood Owen with his
boring voice. Or something like that. This is one chorus of revisionist
baa-baa that you won't find me singing in. I am, and always have been,a
big Clive Owen fan.
brooding aura-innate grace mixed with potential volatility. Without
saying a word, Owen projects internal conflicts, a man of existential
turmoil that could erupt in violence, a kiss, or both."
Clive Owen spent much of his career languishing in the world of British
television. In his twenties he became a small-screen heart-throb
through the ITV show 'Chancer'. A private person, he seemed unlikely to
become much of a star beyond the small-screen. But beneath the brooding
pin-up exterior it was evident to those who know these things that
young Clive had a certain something. That certain something would soon
begin to open doors.
In 1991, Owen was cast to play the lead in Stephen Poliakoff's incest
drama 'Close My Eyes'. A FilmFour production, 'Close My Eyes' harnessed
Owen's brooding persona to an outwardly confident character who
descends into anguish and confusion. Alpha-male with an aura of
melancholic mystery, Owen presents a complex character with an
inner-life. He is enigmatic and unpredictable. I don't use the term
'enigmatic' lightly. In 'Close My Eyes' Owen is unmistakably and
The promise of 'Close My Eyes' seemed to slip away until 1997 when Owen
was cast as a gay concentration camp prisoner in a film adaption of
'Bent'. From bohemian playboy holding court at lavish parties, to
emaciated slave labour living within his imagination to stay sane, Owen
holds your attention with a subtle and emotional performance. "This
can't be happening," he says in one of the film's key lines. Owen's
understated and confined acting makes it all the more chilling. More
naturalistic than theatrical, Owen is never conspicuously 'acting'. You
always believe he is a 'real' person. Next would come his true
badass,he's charming,he's an incredible actor. Clive Owen looks like he
stepped out of an East End dagger fight onto a film studio, bringing a
fresh stack of steely attitude to the screen. We are hip to the coolest
British export since the Jaguar."
Initially ignored on release, 1998's 'Croupier', was 're-discovered'
enough to earn another theatrical run. Plaudits were numerous, not
least for the lean, chilly leading man with the saturnine acting-chops
and abandoned casualness. Perhaps the greatest unofficial James Bond
audition ever, Owen became Bond for many the first moment he appears on
screen. He is moodily detached, darkly charismatic, unpredictable and
every inch a leading man. Soon everyone from Christopher Wood to Harry
knowles would voice their support for him to become the new James
status and embryonic leading man credentials were further enhanced by
his role as the 'driver' in a series of snazzy (and Bondian) BMW
commercials. The ads made Owen a face outside of his native Britain and
a Bond fan even cut a montage together from the films and put the James
Bond theme over it. The man in the car looked like the most obvious
person in the world to replace Pierce Brosnan. It seemed more a matter
of when than if.
After more television work, Owen became the first actor Robert Altman
cast for 'Gosford Park'. He then took a small role in the sleeper spy
hit 'The Bourne Identity'. More BMW ads were followed by a superb
performance in 'Croupier' director Mike Hodges' 'I'll Sleep When I'm
Dead' and a lead role in the bland 'Beyond Borders'. The Jerry
Bruckheimer epic 'King Arthur' didn't serve as the best Clive Owen
vehicle ever but 'Sin City' made-up for it and an oscar nomination for
his work in 'Closer' completed his astonishing rise.
Spike Lee picked Owen to play against Denzil Washington in 'Inside Man'
and Alphonse Cuaron gave him the lead in the futuristic 'Children Of
Men'. At some point Owen had actually become too famous and busy to
desire James Bond anyway. He really didn't need the hassle and
Or the pay-cut.
Let's rewind a little bit. What if the planets had aligned? If Owen had
been approached sooner? What would a Clive Owen James Bond have been
anyone tell you other wise - Clive Owen is a movie star. People can
talk all they want about his brooding remove but the Englishman
radiates the insouciant charm, strange charisma and dark mystery of a
McQueen, Bogart or Mitchum."
Physically, Owen would have been closer to Fleming's literary
description than any of the previous James Bond actors. He is also
closer to the collective image of the 'movie Bond' than Daniel Craig.
The well known 6'2 Owen would have created a positive buzz for Eon from
the start and that infamous press conference would certainly have been
more of an event. OwennotBond.com? I don't think so.
"Like Connery when he hits you, you stay hit." The words of Martin
Campbell who would have called Clive Owen the best actor to ever play
Bond. A bulked-up Owen may have been the most imposing actor to take
the role yet. A believable action-man. A plausible ladykiller. The
wherewithal to convey emotional complexity without smacking of
heavy-handedness. Owen may have been compared to Timothy Dalton. The
difference being, I think,that Owen would have had broader appeal. He
might not have been everybody's ideal (could Owen have handled the
humour? Double-entendres? No. Good understated humour? Yes.) He would
certainly have gone in more around the consciousness of your average
punter on a good wind of populist images.
OwenBond would have been restrained, edgy, dark and enigmatic. Aren't
these Bondian qualities? And who better to bring them to the character
than the actor who has made these very qualities his signature? I don't
believe Owen could have played a 'rookie' agent in 2006. His signing
would have neccesitated a more conventional film. The fact that there
appears to have been no real move for Owen in 2004/2005 suggests that
Eon were either never keen or considered him too 'established'.
The interesting thing to speculate on is what would have happened if
Brosnan had departed in 1999 after three films. It could easily have
happened. Dougray Scott claims he spoke to the producers back then so
life without the Brozzer was clearly on their minds. In 2000 Owen was
younger than Daniel Craig is now. How about a 2001 'Casino Royale'
starring Clive Owen? Did they have the rights back then? I have no idea.
The right man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let's raise a glass
to Clive Owen. One of the best James Bonds we never had. Was the man
himself ever really interested in the part? That is probably the most
interesting question of all.
campaign trail this week. Can someone please tell the Bond film
producers that it's high time Clive Owen stepped into 007's polished
Rowan Pelling (The Independent)