In ‘”The International,” Clive Owen plays an Interpol agent who, with the help of a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney (Naomi Watts), investigates some nefarious banking shenanigans. NEWSWEEK’s Nicki Gostin spoke to the star about his film and his alleged fear of… badgers:
You play an Interpol agent. Did you hang out with other Interpol agents?
No, there wasn’t an Interpol advisor and amazingly I did get an invite but I couldn’t go. I went to Lyon for just one day of filming there and I was invited to go around the offices which I would have definitely loved to have done but unfortunately I was in and out so quick I didn’t have the time.
Did you have someone show you how to use a gun?
Yes, there was a lot of research done in the preparation of this script. When it came to me it also came with a lot of research done in the preparation of this script. It also came to me with a lot of research about banking institutions and things that had happened in the past.
It’s all about corrupt banking. At the end of filming did you want to take your money out of the bank and shove it under your mattress?
It’s amazing, the timing of it really. We finished a year ago and the script was worked on for two years prior to that and the big thing the film does is, it opens the door to the question the way banks deal with money and whether they use the money appropriately and if they are completely sound institutions, and they’re the big questions of the last year, aren’t they? So do you have your money underneath your bed?
No, I’m not that paranoid, so don’t try and come to rob me.
When you do a movie do you have any special requests like you need an umbrella holder person?
It’s pretty important to me that I at least be able to record Liverpool football games.
Do you have it in your contract?
It’s, um, I have to have, yeah I don’t have it exactly in my contract but it’s important to me that at least I can do is tape the game.
Do you ever call off filming because of an important match?
No, but I’ve watched games on set.
If they lose are you in a bad mood?
It can be a bit depressing.
Getting back to special requests on set. Ever ask for a certain beer or spotted dick?
(laughs) No, I definitely don’t eat spotted dick.
I’ve interviewed you before and you seem quite shy.
Um, yeah. You’ll find a lot of actors are quite shy. The whole process of acting is quite different from me as a person. I have no problems standing up and performing in front of a camera but that’s not the same as standing up as me.
You have another movie coming out, (‘Duplicity’) with Julia Roberts and you play another spy. Why do you think you keep getting cast as spies and agents?
I don’t know. ‘Duplicity’ is a very different film. It’s much more banter-based. We play corporate spies who are having an affair and decide to scam the companies we work for. Listen, obviously I’m attracted to these films because it’s what I’m choosing to do.
Do you want to know why you get offered those parts? Because you’re very manly.
That’s a compliment! You’re like a guy’s guy. Who is more manly? You, Liam Neeson, Jason Statham or Daniel Craig?
I’m the least manly of that group.
Why? Do you scream like a girl when you see a mouse?
(laughs) I didn’t say that.
I read that you’re scared of badgers.
Somebody somewhere, and I’m beginning to think I know who it is, started this thing. You would not believe the amount of times I have to fend that question. I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life. I go into situations and people are like, ‘So what’s with the badgers?’ I’ve got a feeling I know who it is because I once talked to someone about putting something on IMDB.
So now are you going on record to say that you are NOT scared of badgers?
I would like to categorically deny that I ever said I was scared of badgers.
I’m scared of scary publicists.
Well, they can be pretty scary. But I never get scared of them.
Because you’re a he-man.
No, because they’re often on my side.
You’re a huge David Bowie fan.
Yes I am. When I was growing up he was a huge influence on me, more than any actor.
Did you dress like Ziggy Stardust?
I did dye my hair. The first day I started RADA, my hair was about five different colors.
Do you feel very English in America?
No, I spend a lot of time here. I’m very comfortable here. I’d probably say New York is my favorite city anywhere. If it wasn’t for the fact I’ve got kids and I think London offers more wide open spaces, I’d probably live in New York.
You’ve got two daughters, aged 12 and 9. Are you nervous for when they start dating?
I’m dreading it, absolutely dreading it. I want to keep my girls as young as I possibly can.
One last thing. Anything better than a cup of tea?
There are plenty of things better than a cup of tea. But a cup of tea at the right time is pretty great.
With a chocolate or plain biscuit?
No biscuit. He-men don’t need biscuits.