Putting Into Words What Sets Alfonso Cuaron Apart as a Filmmaker: I was, and now am an even bigger, huge fan of Alfonsos. Hes very, very high on my directors Id love to work with list, confessed Clive Owen. Even some of his films that were maybe not as commercially successful, I think are very special. Hes a highly original, talented [filmmaker]. Huge talent.
When he first sent me the script, I wasnt sure about the part. I didnt quite know why he wanted me to do it. Its a highly unusual lead part. If you look at that character hes in every scene, but its very unusual traits that hes got. Its not the kind of part where you can sort of do your thing as an actor, in a way. Its about sacrificing yourself to Alfonsos vision and not getting in the way of it, which seems to me more important than doing any acting. But I went and I met him and I talked to him, and I found him hugely exciting. He told me his whole vision of the film and his take on the movie. Then I came on board and the first thing he said is, This is now the bit I love. I love working with actors. I love the collaboration of that. Were going to do this movie together. And he was very true to his word.
I signed on well in advance of the movie. I was shooting other stuff, but we kept in constant contact. I then, as soon as I got a break, went and spent a few weeks with him in New York, just holed up in a hotel room talking about the movie, talking about Theo. The collaboration continued throughout. It was a genuine, really brilliant collaboration through the whole movie. He kept me completely in the loop in all the post-production. He sent me various cuts and edits. There were endless conversations and still now as were taking the film out there and sort of putting it out there, it still feels like that. Its been a very, very special collaboration.
I do genuinely think hes a very rare and unique talent. The thing about his movies is they are whole visions. He doesnt do that thing of pandering to what he thinks the commercial market wants. He makes his movies. He has a very singular vision and he goes out there and does that. I think hes very special.
Running Around Without Shoes: Sometimes Owens character has sandals, other times hes having to race around barefoot. People sort of crack jokes about the flip flops and things, but its actually a real stroke of genius. Theres a point in the movie later on where suddenly Theo is becoming active. Hes become engaged again and hes running around trying to save this girl which in turn could save the world. Alfonso, who has a huge aversion to sentimentality, to stop any notion of weve seen this cliché where our guys going to become active and do it, he put me in flip flops. Thats never going to become the cliché action guy. Its not going to happen. So that was a very deliberate thing on his part. Then the thing just developed (Laughing) The foot fetish developed throughout the movie.
This Isnt Your Ordinary Action Guy Role: Its a highly unusual lead character for a movie of this size really, because the first half of the movie the guy doesnt even want to be there. The guys dragged into the movie. Hes very reluctant. Its very unusual to play a lead character that is apathetic, cynical, depressed, drunk, sad, really. Overwhelming sadness was the thing. Now they are unusual traits. Thats not usually the sort of lead character of a movie. Eventually he does become engaged.
Theo sort of embodies the loss of hope. Theres a hopelessness about him. Hes given up. Hes given up. There is no point to anything. But through the movie he does become engaged again.
Clive Owen Admits to Having a Few Concerns About Children of Men: Owen said there was a time when he asked himself if the movie was going to work. With what I was doing, yes, because as I said before, hes not a dynamic lead character and youre holding a film. Im in every single scene in the movie. When youre holding a film of this sort of scale and size, and you are playing sort of sad and apathetic and the way you pitch that, you worry if its holding. You worry. Its not like I can be proactive and take the character in the film and take people through the movie. That isnt the kind of character.
My instinct from the very, very beginning was that thing I said is that I didnt want to get in the way of his vision. It wasnt about doing good acting in this movie. He thinks very wide, Alfonso. Hes about environment. He puts characters in environments. If you notice, there are very few close-ups in the movie. There are very few times where he goes in on something, and theres a reason when he does. But most of the film is done wide. Theres an awful lot of just following me and you worry that as an actor that its holding. You cant do the strong things because thats not whats required. Its something else.
I felt I just wanted to serve his vision and not get in the way of it and bring something to it, but you dont know where thats pitching. You dont know if youre playing somebody whos reluctantly dragged through the first part of the movie. You dont know if the audience is going to go, Why should we even be going with this guy because he doesnt want to go on the journey? So there were times certainly where I was involved, but he You know, for me, the opportunities Ive been getting in the last few years are hugely appreciated and the opportunity to work with him was a really great one. I think the film is one of those that later on in my career when I look back it will be one that I am very particularly proud of, I think.