‘Duplicity’ stars get pretty sneaky at premiere

In Duplicity, opening Friday, they play two very smart-mouthed, silver-tongued corporate spies trying to pull off the ultimate con.

At Monday’s premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen were all smiles. But how sneaky are they in real life?

Owen, who plays Ray Koval, admits defeat when it comes to who would win in a battle of wits. “She would, because she’s very smart,” he says of his co-star.

No Average Leading Man: Top 5 Clive Owen movie roles

1. Children of Men
Anyone confusing Clive Owen with a typical action hero should watch this movie again.

Theo Faron may have the long overcoat, the stubble, the f-you attitude, but most action heroes react as little as possible, while in this world, a world without children, is revealed to us through Theo’s reactions: his hopeless gaze; his fearful, fragile look after kidnappers remove the hood; his bemusement at finding Michelangelo’s David in his cousin’s mansion; his playfulness in the company of Julian (Julianne Moore) and his shock at seeing the pregnant Kee; how wrecked, how completely wrecked he looks after witnessing the murder of Jasper (Michael Caine). No one can forget the scene where Theo leads Kee and her crying baby through the gauntlet of soldiers, but an equally indelible moment for me is early on, and it’s a throwaway: Theo, feet up, smelly socks on, talking with Jasper at his place. The warmth and comfort between these two men cannot be on the page. These guys created it. The movie could’ve left us there, it could’ve been “My Dinner with Jasper,” and I would’ve happily watched it all.

Owen does action on his own terms

 Thanks to his roles as a globe-trotting Interpol agent in “The International,” a gun-toting baddy in “Shoot ‘Em Up” and a world-saving superman in “Children of Men,” Clive Owen has become the thinking man’s action hero.

But for his latest movie, Owen trades gun battles for the rat-a-tat of romantic banter. This time around, he’s a lover, not a fighter.

In “Duplicity,” the latest from “Michael Clayton” helmer Tony Gilroy, Owen plays Ray Koval, an ex-MI6 agent who obtains industry trade secrets for multinational corporations.