Citing his love of playwright Patrick Marber's material, Clive Owen considers being able to be involved in the movie version of "Closer" 'a real treat.' And getting to take on a different character from the play was like being handed a special present. "It was like starting all over again because when you play a part you see the whole thing through that character's perspective. Now I had to reevaluate everything that I thought when I originally did it, switch everything around and see it from Larry's point of view," explains Owen.
"Closer" follows the interwoven story of four strangers. Their lives, their loves, and their betrayals are all exposed with brutal honesty in this intensely adult look at contemporary relationships. Based on Patrick Marber's play (and adapted for the screen by Marber), "Closer" stars Owen, Natalie Portman, Jude Law, and Julia Roberts, and is directed by Mike Nichols ("Angels in America"). As Marber describes it, "Closer" is really a love story. "It's about other things of course - sexual jealousy, the male gaze, the lies we tell ourselves and those we are most intimate with, the ways in which people find themselves through using others. But in the end, it's a nice simple love story. And as with most love stories, things go wrong..."
In this interview, the scene-stealing Clive Owen discusses working on "Closer," his take on the character of 'Larry', filming "Sin City" with Robert Rodriguez, and those pesky James Bond rumors:
INTERVIEW WITH CLIVE OWEN ('Larry'):
How difficult is it to generate all these feelings on set and then put them all away?
I think, ultimately, the unusual thing about doing a piece like this is because the scenes are so long, this is from a play and the scenes are so long, it just requires a lot of concentration. In terms of the emotional thing, its like you absorb the piece, we talk about the piece, you work the piece, and then at the end of the day you come and you try and go to those places. It just demands maybe more concentration than other [projects].
Do you think Larry really cheated on his wife while he was in New York?
I personally think he did, yeah. Why is that? I don't know. Its not in the movie, I don't know.
Is it vicious the way your character traps Jude Laws character?
Its also one of the funniest scenes in the film. I dont see it to be vicious at all.
Was there a big difference between the stage version and the screen version?
I suppose it was different. When you do the original production, when youre doing a play like that, its very hard to know how its going to go down on the audience. You rehearse the play, and it was Patrick [Marbers] second play, and we didnt really know what we had until you put it out there in front of an audience. And then I think the most striking memory was the fact that it starts off very much its very sweet, its very romantic, its full of possibilities, full of hope. And the feeling within the theater and the audience is that its very witty, its romantic, and then by the end of the first half when Larry is laying into Anna, theres a feeling of, Oh my God, how did I end up here? And that was hugely powerful in the theater. You thought, My God. And then once youve done that, then obviously the second half of the play, you were then free to explore all sorts of things as people find themselves in an unusual place.
But as regards to the difference between, Im sort of one of those weird actors who whenever I do a play, I think, Oh, we should film this. As opposed to have to belt it out of ourselves in a theater auditorium. So it became unusually even more insular on camera, I found. And having watched it it becomes even, to some extent, more powerful than the theater because its hugely intimate. Its scenes between two people sharing various sorts of things, and when youve got very intense scenes between two people and you feel that involved in a certain amount of time, its very powerful. So in some ways, I find it more intimate than the theater experience.
Why did you decide to play Larry instead of Dan, the role you did on stage?
Well, one, I'm that much older so I don't think Dan was ever an option. And Jude [Law] was already cast as Dan in the movie, so I was thrilled. I think it's four fantastic parts, a great piece of writing. To be involved in any way was hugely exciting for me.