Let's get this out of the way: Clive Owen knows nothing about a "Sin City" or "Inside Man "sequel. Absolutely zilch. (According to recent reports, "Inside Man 2" is dead; "Sin City 2" may begin production later this year).
Although he has gained a bit of a reputation for playing the rugged action star he did in those films -- and before that, a successful television actor -- his next movie, "Intruders," is a departure of sorts. The thriller/horror genre follows John Farrow (Owen), a man forced to battle the psychological demons he's passed onto his daughter.
As for Owen's next project, he will have to fight demons of a different kind, as he portrays the late author Ernest Hemingway in HBO's "Hemingway and Gellhorn."
Moviefone recently sat down with Owen to discuss "Intruders," "Children of Men," what he thought of Corey Stoller's Hemingway portrayal in "Midnight and Paris" and, yes, "Sin City 2."
The movie poster for "Intruders" is completely frightening.
[Laughs] It freaks me out.
Were you a big horror fan growing up?
Not hugely. There were certain horror films that stayed with me. I was always a huge fan -- and I have seen it a number of times -- [of] the "Exorcist." I still think it's one of the greatest scary movies ever made and I just think it's brilliantly directed, and it still holds up and it's pretty terrifying.
So this is your first horror film. Was there anything in particular that made you want to go into horror now?
No, it wasn't about wanting to do the genre. It was much more [about] the script. I never really quite saw it as a horror film. I saw it as a psychological thriller, and I was very interested in that theme [director] Juan Carlos [Fresnadillo] was exploring, passing off fears onto our kids and how that can happen. And I was a big fan of his work. I loved "28 Weeks Later" … and I loved 'Intacto,' his first film. So that was what drew me to do it.
That's almost the most frightening part of the film, the possibility of passing those things onto our kids.
We take it to a very strange, almost supernatural place. But it's a very real thing, that we pass our fears onto our kids. Kids soak up everything about us. We pass on everything to them. And we have got a thing deep inside of us that we're worried about that makes us scared or anxious, children are very alive and alert to it. I think that's something that's very real. I don't think that's a supernatural thing.
Your character uses maybe the weirdest anti-nightmare method imaginable for his daughter: lighting a poncho-covered scarecrow on fire. My first two thoughts to this were a) I wish I had have done that when I was a kid, and b) is that sort of thing even realistic?
[Laughs] It's a kind of strange way of [doing it]. To him, it's kind of the beginning of the nightmare, where the monster is created in between [the character and his daughter]. It is a little crazy what he does, but I think he is a little crazy.
I am probably going to sound like a jaded American here, but it's a pleasant surprise to look at your film credits and see that, before you made it in the U.S., you had a very successful TV career in England for a decade. Had you always planned on transitioning into movies?
I was very content, actually. I was doing lots of small British films, doing theater, doing TV. I felt like I was having a very full and satisfying time. I was just very lucky. I did a little film called "Croupier" that suddenly opened things up for an American audience for me, and it started a whole film thing. But it was never "That's where I want to get to." I got lucky really.
And then after "Croupier" you were approached for BMW's "Driver."
Straight after that. That was the first thing I did after "Croupier."
That must have been a crash course on working with big-budget directors. You got to do short films with John Woo, Guy Ritchie, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Well, I said no to it a few times thinking it was just a series of commercials. To be in this film that opens things up for you and the first thing you decide to do is [a commercial]. But then I saw who was directing it: Well, John Frankenheimer is doing the first one, John Woo is doing the second one, and I read the scripts and was like, 'These are like mini movies.' I ended up doing [eight] of them.
Was there any particular favorite you had?
I think they were all such great directors. I was a big fan of Wong Kar-wai's, so it was a treat to work with him.
Do you think the Driver would have been more helpful for your character at the end of "Bourne Identity," who (SPOILER) gets assasinated in an open field, or for your character in "Children of Men," who (SPOILER) has to escort a pregnant woman through a battlefield.
I think 'Bourne Identity.' I don't think it would quite fit into the end of 'Children of Men [laughs].
"Children of Men" seems to have developed this cult following over the years. I actually watched the film in a London theater, so I was in a bit of a daze walking back out into Central London after seeing the movie.
When you talk about the opening of that film, I remember being surprised that we were allowed to blow that window out in that shot. It was [right after the 7/7 bombings] and it was right in the center of London and I was amazed that we got permission to do that. I just think Alfonso Curaon is a great, great filmmaker.
I think Alfonso did an unbelievable job of realistically imagining what the future could look like.
Exactly. It was all very tangible, really. And that's why, sometimes people call it a science-fiction film, and I am not sure that's right. Because it's not fantastical. You can touch it.
Do you get asked more about "Inside Man 2" or "Sin City 2"?
Both -- ever since we did the first one[s]. We've been trying to get them going now for years.
And now I will be guilty of asking you about "Sin City 2."
I know nothing about it. You probably know more than me.
So you are about to play Ernest Hemingwawy in HBO's "Hemingway and Gellhorn." Besides slugging whiskey and shooting bears, what sort of preparation did you do for the film?
A lot, actually. I took months out and traveled a lot. I went to his house in Cuba. I went to Hemingway's Paris, Hemingway's Madrid, read everything . It was an amazing project. It was a wonderful script. Philip Kaufman is such a great director. And obviously [acting] with Nicole Kidman -- it was one of those rare [movies] that felt like a real gift.
How familiar were you with Hemingway beforehand?
Not wildly familiar. That's why I took six, seven months out and sort of read everything. One of the perks of being an actor is you get to travel on these journeys and find out things. Doing that film made me read everything Hemingway [has done], which was great. I loved it.
It's been a pretty big year for Hemingway, between your film and "Midnight in Paris." Did you see that film at all?
Yea, yea I did.
What did you think of Corey Stoller, who portrayed Hemingway in the film?
I thought he was great. I thought he did a great job with it. [Hemingway] is coming back into fashion. It's a great thing because he's been a bit out of fashion for awhile.