Clive Owen has recently grace the cover of GQ Magazine, October issue! Below are some new photoshoots and interview from the mag! Clive is looking hot as he age!
Who influences you?
David Bowie. I came across him at 14 and at one point wound up owning everything he’d ever done, including bootlegs, and just was totally blown away by him. And I’ve said before, and I mean it, that he probably had more to do with me becoming an actor than any actor.
Because he’s such a shape-shifter?
Yeah, and because there was just… You know, it’s very difficult later on. I took my girls to the V&A [Victoria and Albert Museum] exhibition, you know, and they got it then; they did get it a bit. They saw all the different phases he went through. It’s very hard, because so many people composed him. It was so derivative of what he was doing, the whole of radically going this way and this way—there was something about that, that I just found so exciting. The potential to do anything. And I sort of found that in his music. I loved the way he went everywhere. I thought there was nothing like him, and I found that inspiring.
How do you imagine yourself at 70?
Hopefully alive. [laughs]
It’s all uphill from there.
You’re not a guy who thinks, “I’ll retire”?
No. Whatever age you are, there’s a role that’s about who you are and where you are. There’s parts for that age that you’ll be rich, that you can bring things to. So unless I was incapable, I imagine myself still working, yeah.
When did you first feel grown-up?
Part of me still doesn’t. You know, if you’re the same age as me, 50…I never think of myself as that age, ever. I’ve got an age that I do think of myself. It certainly isn’t 50. [laughs] It’s an attitude, really. I’ve got friends who are older than me—a good ten, fifteen years—and I always look at them like, “I hope to God I don’t look like that.” I’ve done that the past ten, fifteen years, going, “God, I hope when I’m that age…” ‘Cause their spirit, their wit, their energy, is no different from… I don’t feel like I’m a kid, I just feel like, when it comes to things like work, I get set alight the same way as I did when I started, when that passion hit and I thought, “I want to do it.” I read a great script, or a really great project comes my way, I still get hit the same way. I’ve done a lot of different things now, and there’s been ups and downs all the way through, and I’ve been very lucky and had a really great time. But I still get that. What I always loved about acting—what some people don’t love about it—is the unknown. The fact that tomorrow I get the Hemingway script, and I’ve never read a Hemingway book in my life. Or a call from Phil Kaufman—I adore The Right Stuff, I adore The Unbearable Lightness of Being—and I think, “Oh, he’s such a special director.” He sends me this great script, and a year later I’ve read everything Hemingway’s done. Just set alight. That just comes, one phone call, one day. [snaps his fingers] I consume so much about Hemingway, I do everything everywhere he lived in Paris, I go to Cuba and go and look at his house there. It’s the beauty of the unexpected—even if it’s just a great script—that could come tomorrow.
Do you have any fear?
Every time I do a job, yeah.
Sometimes fear is a motivator; sometimes it freezes you. Sometimes I feel like I got to where I am because I’m always scared of failing. And then there’s another part of me that freezes because I’m scared of failing. It’s always battling between the two.
There’s a little period in my career where I kind of lost sight of it a little bit. Acting, like a lot of things in life, is so much about appetite—wanting to do it, feeling you can do it, feeling like you’ve got something to do. An appetite, a hunger for it. You start making choices based on a career, a “career move”—I don’t even know what that is—thinking that’s the right thing to do or whatever. I don’t function very well if I just respond to the material goal. If I have the appetite, it doesn’t matter how the whole thing pans out. Good, bad, it’s the appetite that carries you through it. The best career move is to be good, and the best way to be good is to be hungry for it, to want to do it. And I think that that’s the most important thing. So even though… Again, I take the Hemingway thing, because it was such a leap. I don’t look like him, I don’t, you know… But it was a great script, Phil was such a great guy, and you go, “Right, let’s take it on.”
Do you think you’ve become the man you wanted to be?
I wanted to be? No. I don’t aspire to be anything.
But when you were 18, 19, did you ever have a vision of the man you wanted to be, and did you become that?
Not really. But what I’ve done is beyond my wildest. Unbelievable. I’m still grateful every day.
Do your daughters understand what you do?
Yeah. It’s been funny watching them grow up, because for a while they really didn’t. “Why is that man talking to you? What do you mean you don’t know them?” There was a little confusion. And then just seeing them as they grow… And still, there’s a lot of my stuff I won’t let them see. I’m sure they’re sneakily watching it. Like, I don’t want them to see Closer. But some of their friends at school have. They’re gonna have to go find it. But they do understand what it is I do. Certainly one of them is thinking about doing it, and all I care is that she does it for the right reasons.
How do you guide her toward that?
Make sure she understands that the work is everything. The frills and everything that comes with it, and all the other stuff you deal with—but ultimately it’s about the work. That’s the most important thing. That’s what will carry you through.
Is there any health advice that changed your life?
The best thing I did for myself was give up smoking.
When did you do that?
When my first daughter was born.
Was it just cold turkey?
Kind of. It was cold turkey, and I stopped smoking in the apartment we were in when Sarah-Jane got pregnant, so I could only smoke outside, and I said, “When she’s born, I’m stopping.” People were giving me the look, and I was like, “No, you’ve just got to want to do it, and I’m going to stop.” And the day my daughter was born, I stopped. And then I was doing the play Closer at the National. And in the play, that character was struggling giving up smoking. And halfway through, Patrick, who directed the regional production, said, “We’ve got to deal with this smoking thing.” And I said, “Well, I’ll just smoke herbals, obviously.” He said, “You can’t. It’s a small theater at the National. These things smell, you know, really pungent. You’ve got to smoke.” “Patrick, I’ve given up. I can’t smoke!” And this is something about me, which is a little weird: I allowed myself—because the play was in rep, with other plays—every time I was doing the play, the minute I crossed the stage door, I could smoke. Straight to the cigarette machine, puff away in the dressing room. I allowed myself. And then, on the down days, I didn’t allow myself, so I’d just be tortured. But that’s the deal I did with myself: I can only smoke when it’s work. And the last night of that play was the last time I smoked a cigarette.
When were you most ambitious?
[long pause] I’m taking my time because I’m trying to think if I really am ambitious. It’s funny, when I was younger, it was something I didn’t like seeing in other people—naked ambition, when somebody is really pushing hard to get to where they want to be. I don’t know why. I was always… I’m competitive with myself, but I’ve always thought of ambition like, I’ve got to get them. Fuck! But it might not be that. You can look at it… That’s the way I look at that word: if you’re stepping on anything to get there. And I’ve never been comfortable with that as an idea. I’ve always challenged myself, but not at the cost of everything around me. I wanted to become an actor; I was very passionate about that. I just wanted to do it. But I wasn’t like, “I want to become a film star.” I just wanted to do it. I’ve been very passionate. When I was younger, it was really important to me. I really wanted to do it. But I’ve never really felt like I wanted to use that word for it: ambition.
Do you have any physical scars?
Your nose was broken?
Yeah, very badly.
How’d that happen?
Pretty pathetically. Up a tree, 10 or 11. Going along this branch, so springy that by the time you get to the end, your feet just about touch the ground. If you flick your feet, you bounce up and down. That was the game. Up the tree, waiting for my go. I go, “Come on, come on, it’s my go!” The guy: “Okay.” [makes snapping sound] Boof! Splattered! And the head one, similarly, running around my school, what was like an empty-almost pool. If you can imagine an empty swimming pool, that kind of thing. Running around an empty swimming pool, missed the corner, split my head open.
How old were you then?
It happened about the same time, probably. A year or two after the nose. Blood just pouring. Couldn’t see. Went to the hospital to get stitched up.
Is there something on your neck?
Yeah, born with a hole in my neck. They waited a little while, until I was about 2, and then stitched it up. They had to, because it was going to stretch. They couldn’t properly sew it up until—
Did it affect you in any way?
No, it didn’t stop me from doing anything. It was just a hole in my neck! [laughs]
Doesn’t everyone have one of these? [laughs]
What’s the big deal? I have a hole in my neck. [laughs]
As you get older, does love change?
If anything, it probably gets stronger, especially with kids.
And what about sex?
[laughs] It gets better as well.
Is there anything you would tell the 20-year-old version of yourself?
No, because I lucked out. The idea of having the life that I have—at that age, it was crazy. It was unimaginable to me. And I got a series of incredibly lucky breaks at different times. I feel like I’ve been very, very fortunate and very lucky. So when I look back, if I played something differently, it might not have gone the way it did. So I feel blessed. I don’t feel like going back and changing anything.
Is there a period of your life that you found very stressful?
There was a time that things really opened up for me, where I got a little bit of rhythm with work, and I did a few things back-to-back, and I got tired. Really tired.
When was that?
There were three films that I did that were literally stacked up. I left one to go onto the other, and opportunities were opening up for me—and by the last one, I was absolutely exhausted. And also, I wasn’t functioning well. I hadn’t had proper time to prepare. And for the first time, for the first-ever time, I didn’t want to be at work. It was scary. Because I’ve always loved it, and suddenly there was this time of “Shit, I’d prefer not to be going. I’d prefer to just stay home.” And it was tiredness; it was exhaustion. And I took lessons from that, and I learned and I changed. I realized that I had to dictate the rhythm, that I don’t just go dun-dun-dun… I’ll function better if I have time to prepare, I know that, but also I have to say no. I can’t do a big job, a big job stacked up. I don’t function well like that. I also, you know, it’s also important, regarding the family, to—if you spend a long time away—to put that [time] back in afterwards. Don’t go there, then there, then there. That’s no good—in every way. So it was really about learning to say no. So that if somebody says, “We want to go, we want to go then, straight in it”—I have to go, “Well, okay, then, I can’t.” And I think, at this point, I still hadn’t learned that I have to dictate the rhythm. It [used to be], “It’s okay if they overlap. Okay, I’ll just go straight to it.” Learning to dictate the rhythm is really important.
I love hearing that, because that’s not just about being an actor—that’s applicable to any man’s life.
But it takes balls to do that, because if you’re—if there’s a job or a part you really want, it takes balls to say, “Even so, if it’s not right in terms of the rhythm…”
That’s wisdom. Guys getting to that point where they know that saying no is stronger than saying yes. So I rewatched Croupier, and there’s a great line of dialogue which I would hazard to suggest—
“Hang on tightly, let go lightly”?
Read more of Clive’s interview on GQ’s official website!