On the windswept south side of Jonathan Palmer’s Bedford Autodrome, Clive Owen is pounding around in a track-tough Jaguar XKR. This particular circuit has some complex corners and a high-speed fourth-gear number, during which the driver’s cojones – not to mention the Jag’s tyres – are severely tested. But it seems that Clive is not in the mood to back off.
“On a group day,” one of the instructors tells me, “a 1min 9sec lap would win the event. He’s doing 1min 10s right now. Clive clearly doesn’t have issues with speed. Or commitment.” Or, for that matter, changing gear. It’s a metaphor he himself has used to describe the twists and turns his career has taken on the road to his current, undeniable status as a leading man.
Five minutes in his company is all it takes to establish that this is an unusually grounded Hollywood player. The tan is not easy to come by in the British Isles, but the attitude is definitely closer to Coventry than California.
And no wonder. His success has been hard-won. Like Michael Caine before him, his is a tough, working-class background. His father abandoned his mother, him and his brothers, when he was just three. He was educated at a Coventry comprehensive and spent two years on the dole before being accepted at RADA. The breakthrough, in Mike Hodges’ The Croupier, only came after American critics picked up on a film roundly ignored on its initial release.
Fair to say that he hasn’t looked back since. The Bourne Identity, Closer, Sin City, Inside Man and Children of Men have all followed. This month, he is starring in the new action adventure film Shoot ‘Em Up. In it, he plays the mysterious Mr Smith, entrusted with protecting a new-born baby from an army of assassins. [Read more…] about Clive Owen In Jaguar XKR