Clive Owen Biography:
A suave, darkly handsome actor reminiscent of the young Sean Connery in
looks and charisma, Clive Owen first came to international attention with
his sinuous, understated portrayal of the amoral protagonist of Mike Hodges'
Croupier (1998). A flop in Britain, where Owen had long been a staple of
various BBC TV series, the film was a sleeper hit in the States, its success
duly generating a flurry of interest in the relatively unknown actor who
lent the film its seductive intensity. A product of Coventry, Warwickshire,
Owen got a bumpy start in his chosen career, living on the dole for two
years after he left school. Fortunately, respite arrived in the form of
an acceptance to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1984, and following
his graduation from RADA, the young actor joined the Young Vic Theatre Company,
where he performed a number of the classics.
Owen finally broke through to an international audience with Hodges' Croupier, earning almost unanimous acclaim for his portrayal of a struggling writer who becomes caught up in an intricate scam after taking a job in a casino. He subsequently starred as a prisoner who takes up gardening in Greenfingers, a comedy that also starred Helen Mirren and had its premiere at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival. The actor also remained active on the stage, even as his screen work thrived, starring in the original 1997 London production of Patrick Marber's highly feted Closer, and performing alongside Rachel Weisz and Paul Rhys in Sean Mathias' acclaimed revival of Noël Coward's Design for Living at London's Donmar Warehouse.
The new millennium saw Owen appearing in an eclectic range of projects. In 2001, he starred as the only recurring character in BMW's Hire series of ambitious short films by directors such as Ang Lee and Guy Ritchie and also appeared in Robert Altman's acclaimed Gosford Park. Following a memorable supporting performance opposite Matt Damon in 2002's popular The Bourne Identity, Owen moved up to a starring role as an international relief worker who has an affair with Angelina Jolie in 2003's Beyond Borders. The next year, he took on the title role in King Arthur, Antoine Fuqua's non-fantasy retelling of the legendary story, with then it-girl Keira Knightley as his Guinevere. Both Beyond Borders and King Arthur failed to garner much of an audience, with the latter especially disappointing in light of its 120-million-dollar budget. Despite buzz about the possibility of Owen taking over the James Bond role in the iconic series, his prospects as a Hollywood leading man seemed to be faltering.
Also in 2004, Owen appeared stateside in a smaller-budget U.K. film from
Croupier director Mike Hodges called I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, about a
former gangster investigating the mysterious death of his younger brother.
Starring an impressive cast that included Charlotte Rampling, Jonathan
Rhys-Meyers, and Malcolm McDowell, the film was well-received by critics
but relegated to only small arthouse exposure in the States. Later that
year, Owen appeared in the big-screen adaptation of Closer, directed by
Mike Nichols and co-starring such big names as Julia Roberts, Jude Law,
and Natalie Portman. In 2005, Owen joined an even more star-studded cast
with a role in Robert Rodriguez' adaptation of Frank Miller's comic Sin
City, and he would also star opposite Julianne Moore in Savage Grace and
Jennifer Aniston in Derailed.
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