live Owen fans fall into a few categories. There are those (largely female) who like Owen for his looks. Then there are others (mostly male) who like his grizzled demeanor as an action hero in movies like “The International” and “Children of Men.” He seems rough around the edges compared with the Hugh Grants and Tom Cruises of the world (“kind of shady,” a male fan said, admiringly, of his performance in “Closer”). A new type of Clive Owen appreciator came to light last week: fans who like Owen primarily because he, too, loves Liverpool football. “They’re soccer fans,” Owen explained, translating for an American at the sports bar Nevada Smiths, on Third Avenue (motto: “Where Football Is Religion”). He was surrounded by about fifty boozy soccer fans, who stood beneath flat-screen TVs showing the Leeds United vs. Liverpool game, singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the Liverpool anthem. For them, Clive Owen is not religion. “People will come up and ask for your autograph or whatever,” he said, “but the priority is the game.”It was four-fifteen on a Tuesday. Owen was drinking a rum-and-coke, and he wore a black suit and a white cotton shirt, open at the collar. On the screen, his neck seems a little thick—a fullback’s physique—but in person he resembles a lean, eager midfielder. He was in town to promote his new film, “The Boys Are Back,” in which he plays a father whose wife dies, leaving him to raise two boys alone. The story is based on a memoir by the British political columnist Simon Carr, but in the film Owen’s character is a sportswriter. “Being a sportswriter came quite naturally,” Owen said. “I mean, when it comes to football I think I’d be all right. I read the Guardian.” Owen grew up in Coventry, but he has always loved Liverpool soccer, which is like being a Yankees fan from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “They were the glamour team,” he said. “David Bowie and Liverpool Football Club. Those were the only autographs I have ever been sending off for.” He used to watch games in secret. “My ritual was I’d go upstairs, put a full kit on, and watch TV.” Now his assistant puts all the Liverpool games on his schedule.
One of the soccer fans, a ruddy-faced man with a thick, curly head of gray hair, approached and asked, in a booming voice, “What was it like snogging Julia Roberts?”
“Great!” Owen said, uneasily.
The fan went on to praise “Duplicity”—“Everything in the film’s so current”—and Roberts some more: “Seriously, I love her.”
But Owen was back on athletics. He has two minor obsessions: “I’m very into horse racing” (“Sea the Stars, from Ireland, is proving to be the best horse that’s come around in a while”), and, he added, “I do love tennis.” He’s a Nadal fan. He saw Roddick in the semifinals at Wimbledon: “I get to the match a good two hours before the game to avoid the traffic.” He’s not big on American sports, but he once went to a Knicks game with Spike Lee, who was wooing him for “Inside Man.” “You wouldn’t believe how involved Spike was,” Owen said. “It was like he was a part of the game, sitting in the front row, talking to the players.”
Owen does not dream of being a soccer player, or a sportswriter (“A guy who writes the games up—it’s just one guy’s take”); but a manager, that’s tempting. “To be involved in the high end of footballing in any capacity, and spend your life going to amazing games, would be incredible,” he said. In Namibia, while shooting “Beyond Borders,” Owen caught a Liverpool game on a TV in the middle of the desert (“They managed to get a wire out to my tent, so we had cable”); in Milan, for “Duplicity,” he squeezed in an Inter Milan Champions League game, and afterward, in the locker room, met Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who gave him his jersey. In Thailand (for “Beyond Borders” again), Owen’s driver turned out to be a Man U supporter. “He couldn’t afford cable,” Owen said. “In Thailand, soccer games air at 3 or 4 A.M., but I let him come to my place and watch the games. I said, ‘You can watch it, but don’t wake me up.’”
Deep into the second half of the Liverpool game, the TV screens went blank: Nevada Smiths had lost its satellite signal. The fans seemed dazed. A guy in a red Skrtel jersey turned to Owen to introduce himself. “Have we formally met?” he asked. “I’m Dwayne.” Owen stuck out his hand: “Clive Owen.”
Only two women approached. One, wearing a Calvin Klein sweatshirt, said, “Excuse me. Can I take your picture?”
Owen agreed, but after the picture was taken she confessed to being a Leeds fan: “I hope Liverpool loses. Sorry.” ?
Source: New Yorker