Emmanuel Itier: Why did you want to do this movie?
Julia Roberts: I just want to be with the smart guys, and I think that’s where you’re most creative — is to be with people who are intensely bright about what they do and creative. I had seen Michael Clayton and I’d met with Tony (Gilroy) and we connected, and of course I have this relationship already with Clive, and so when he called me and asked me to do it, it just seemed like a good match.Clive Owen: Well, I had one of those experiences you get now and then when you read a script, and literally I finished the last page, I called my agent and said, “This is the one! This is the one!” I thought it was the very best script I’d read in a really long time, and the art of writing dialogue — really good dialogue — I think, is a bit of a dying art. There are writers who can write good stories and are good writers, but actually writing fantastic dialogue within scenes is hard to come by in movies, and this just had some of the best dialogue I’ve ever spoken on film.
EI: Could you elaborate on how you work together? You’re both playing liars, so at a certain point, did you believe each or was there any doubt?
JR: Well, we did have rehearsal. We actually had really fun, great rehearsals. It was nice to get in there with Tony and see his way of communicating with us and if we all were clear with each other, and I think it became pretty apparent that we all talked the same language and wanted to have the same kind of experience together and put things on their feet in such a way that we could get to where we were going, and it all seemed so open for that spontaneous moment. So for me, we had a really good rehearsal process.
CO: I think there’s always a danger when you over-rehearse movies. I think it’s great for everyone to come together and make sure everyone’s on the same page and everyone has the same intentions of where they think the film should go, but you can over-rehearse. You can kind of kill it, but because it was so dialogue-based, you read the dialogue out loud and really it was only minute fine-tuning because the script was in good shape. It was really just re-establishing that and not overdoing it.
EI: You’ve worked together in Closer, and Julia loves working with people she loves and knows, but does that get in the way of spontaneity — the over-familiarity?
JR: I think it’s the opposite. You just feel so much safer to try anything, to really throw anything at someone that you know who will, regardless, catch it and make something out of it, so I think that trust creates a greater sense of wanting to be spontaneous. And also, when it’s something that you admire — I really admire these guys (Owen and Gilroy), so my job at work is to do everything I can to try to impress them, really. That’s my job! [Laughs] Why are you laughing? [To Clive]
CO: It’s funny. I also think that acting is often about rhythm, and although Closer was a different kind of movie, having worked with her… Again, we had already sussed each other out and we had an instinctive rhythm together. For both of us, our sensibilities are: play the scene, make the scene as good as possible, and we both contribute towards that, and when you’ve got two actors who do that together, something happens in the middle that neither are really in control of, and when you’ve done that already and you experience that, you come back together. It’s just play time. It’s just joyful because you’ve already done that stuff and it just becomes about nuances and trying to make it as good as you can.
EI: You just had your third baby and now you’re back in a leading role. How has that changed for you?
JR: It just kind of deepens the well that you draw from as a person, as all life experience does, I think. I still pick parts for the same kind of instinctual reasons that I always have, and I’m really fortunate. There are so many people who say, “Is it hard to be a working mother?” I think it’s got to be so hard for some people, and I’m in such a luxurious position to be so supported in the workplace with my family that my kids get to come. I had a little baby on this movie, and I’d have to leave the set every few hours to take care of him, and everybody understood that and supported that, and it just became part of our dynamic and our process. I wish every working mom had that same experience working with their boss. It really makes it such a richer environment to be in.
EI: How do you define fashion and style? Is it something you had to do as part of your work, or do you enjoy it?
JR: He [Clive]’s much more fashionable than I am.
CO: I’ve been very clever and just stayed with Georgio Armani for years. [Laughs]
EI: What about you?
JR: Certainly Georgio Armani is a friend and I’ve worn many beautiful frocks that he’s made, but there seems to be more pressure now for young girls to be very fashionable. We didn’t have to deal with that when I was that age, but it’s fun and it’s great in movies. It’s such a great dimension in movies, the way you dress.
EI: Do you have any all-time movie stars that you look at as fashion icons?
JR: I think Audrey Hepburn is probably the ultimate fashion icon for actresses.
CO: I think, for actors, it might be Alain Delong.
EI: Do you watch foreign films, and what have you watched lately that you liked?
CO: I loved Times and Winds last year. That was a pretty great film
JR: We just watched Horton Hears a Who. [Laughs] I’m asleep by 8.20pm. Subtitles don’t enter my life the way they once did, I’m afraid to say, but there’s hope in later years.
EI: Can you talk about your relationship with the paparazzi? We don’t see you as much as other actresses. How do you deal with them?
JR: Not very well, but that’s just me. I don’t deal with it a lot so I have to say that I know I’m more fortunate than a lot of people. I think there’s become this kind of game with celebrities and their children, and there’s a little chase that goes on that I think is very disturbing, and it’s very disheartening to see people behave so aggressively and ugly in front of young people, in front of children, in front of my children, and it’s an unfortunate aspect of hostility, I think. We’re all here to make something positive and productive, and it gets so ugly sometimes, and I don’t have a lot of patience and understanding or tolerance. I think I’ve drawn a pretty clear line that, for the most part, gets respected, and I’m very grateful for that.
EI: Playing a spy required a certain amount of body language. Did you take that into account when playing these roles?
CO: No, not really…not particularly. I think, for me, it was very much about dialogue and just playing the dialogue. The physical aspect comes into that because of the situations you’re put into, and obviously you physically respond to the things you’re doing, but I never looked at what I was doing physically from any other part I’ve played.
JR: I wish I had.
EI: Newsweek said recently that when your character in a movie has long red hair, the movie is a success…
JR: Oh, I’m so sorry! I had no idea. [Laughs]
EI: And when your hair is short, the movie probably isn’t that good….
JR: We are a long-haired movie. We’re good, we’re safe. Phew! What are you going to do? Wow, the folly of Newsweek. Wow. The world is in such peril and this is what they’re writing?
EI: You both also kiss a lot…
JR: We do! I thought the same thing!
EI: Clive, you just made another movie which is very political, The International.
CO: The strange thing about The International is that was conceived six or seven years ago and it was shot a year and a half ago, and it just happens to fall at a time where it feels very relevant.
EI: You shot in a lot of cities — Rome, etc.
JR: It is a luxury and I guess it’s a rarity. Rome, I felt like, was the reward. It was our last week and it was gorgeous, and the people were so welcoming and the food is so good, and it looks beautiful on film. You can’t beat that.
EI: Speaking of traveling around, had you experienced any culture clashes and did your Scandinavian background affect you in some ways, and have you ever been there?
JR: I have never been there. I cherish it as I treasure my mom, who is the Scandinavian side of our family, and I don’t know what cultural clashes… I don’t think you have cultural clashes in Italy.
EI: What about between you both –- you as an American and you, Clive, as British?
JR: Oh, between us? That’s a different matter altogether!
CO: Huge — there are huge chasms there!
JR: He’s lying.
EI: How do you react to lies?
JR: Not very well.
CO: I love a good lie. I can tell a good lie. No, I’m not very good with lies. Neither me lying nor being lied to.
JR: Who’s going to sit here and say, “I like being lied to”?