Here at TLR Towers, we like to try new things and today we’re looking back at forgotten actors instead of films. When writing up the underrated film piece it came to my attention: Where is Clive Owen? I mean yes he’s had a solid decade of strong stardom…but I think that his resume is so strong that he should be an actor who deserves the longevity of career he hasn’t been afforded, he should be still in the mix for a lot more roles.
Lets look deeper into this; Clive Owen is always good in his films. If you look at his iMDb page it is a solid list with a large amount of good films, there is a period of 9 years where you can argue he didn’t make any major missteps, from Croupier to the hyper action Shoot Em Up, via Gosford Park, Sin City and the underrated Children of Men to name a few the man honed his craft for years then produced over and over. But then things start to dry up in 2011/2012.
Okay I’m not going to lie to you there is one film in those years that appears to be an absolute stinker, Beyond Borders with Angelina Jolie has a 32/100 score on Metacritic and lost a surprising amount of money at the box office, but you can’t deny he is good in the rest. Croupier has been written about on this website before, so to rip from Harry’s piece Clive Owen’s performance has a cold detachment that is just outstanding. the atmosphere and tension is all there. Gosford Park an Oscar nominated film, regardless of how big his role you love him. King Arthur is okay, but is a fun action romp with Clive looking the part, and not phoning it in (and still better than the Guy Ritchie garbage). He conveys a fairly convincing amount of conflict of character before and during the actual conflict, and for an Fuqua-driven story with fire arrows, he does well. Closer isn’t a film that holds up particularly well, but in its time was a very decent film, directed by The Graduate director Mike Nichols. He shows us a sleazier side in this role and does well to hold his own against other big name actors. Sin City is one of his strongest performances. The quiet heroism
of Dwight pushes the story forward in a way that leads to a strong climax to his portion of the story, and against Benicio Del Toro’s Jackie Boy he performs well. And Children of Men is conceptually and executionally one of the best film of the 00’s. While Cuaron is the driving force behind that statement Clive’s performance is still important. Effortlessly stoic but with occasional tinges of pure despair behind his eyes (the car scene in the forest comes to mind), he was made for the role. He plays off Michael Caine and Julianne Moore so well you are easily absorbed into this film. I could go on but I don’t want to bore you.
The man has also worked with some of the finest directors in the game: Alfonso Cuaron, Antoine Fuqua, Robert Altman, Mike Nichols, Steven Soderbergh (in recent years). He’s also done a fantastic line of shorts with BMW where he worked with the likes of Joe Carnahan, Ang Lee, Alejandro Inarritu, Guy Ritchie, Tony Scott and Neill Blomkamp.
He has the credentials, he has the contacts, people like working with him (here’s a video in which Jon Bernthal calls him a legend) and the man can act…so why isn’t he working in larger films? Or at least getting consistent work?
This is when we look at the only other possible major factor, Box Office. And boy, oh boy it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
His top 3 grossing films aren’t sold on his participation. Denzel, Bruce Willis & Keira Knightley take centre marketing stage. 5-7 he shares centre stage with big name female actresses, and 8 down are all bombs or break even films, and contained in there are films he leads. Long story short, he isn’t a box office draw, never has been, regardless of his talent.
But I argue that the world we live in now is one where the movie star is dying. TLRUK has mentioned this before and I add to Harry’s sentiment. Stars no longer sell movies, and if we are simply looking for quality actors to work in great premises given to them, why not Clive Owen?
He’s not too long in the tooth, he’s 54, and if we’re giving Liam Neeson two
weak action films a year why can’t Clive get in on some of that action? It’s not even like those are his only options, he just deserves steadier work. Recently he was working sublimely on The Knick; Soderbergh’s pre-‘retirement’ 20th Century hospital series, but since that ended he hasn’t been afforded the opportunities an actor of his quality deserves. I mean who really knows what in the hell Last Knights was, and he worked with Jaeden Lieberher on the straight to DVD film, The Confirmation and that’s pretty much it post-2015. Somehow, SOMEHOW,
actors like Jude Law work ceaselessly every year, in a variety of roles with varied success…and is he that much better an actor than Mr. Owen? I mean yes he has higher peaks in his career, but longevity in performance standard? I’d argue not. Okay it seems like I’m picking on Jude Law here, but I think he’s overrated as anything. Liam Neeson I only gently rib, as these action films keep him fit and keep him around with us longer, so fair play to you good sir.
In any case, Hollywood bring Clive back into the fold, Make Owen Great Again. I’m not asking for a lead roles (unless it’s in a slightly better version of Taken or Shoot Em Up 2) but he deserves consistent work with major production companies. Wouldn’t you agree?