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I recently caught up with Clive Owen, (Closer, Sin City, Inside Man, Children Of Men) who gives an Oscar worthy performance in The Boys Will Are Back, one of the most honest depictions of family life and grief I’ve seen in film. Check out the synopsis and my interview below.
Based on the acclaimed memoir by Simon Carr, The Boys are Back in Town, Academy Award® nominee Scott Hicks (Shine) directs Miramax Films’ THE BOYS ARE BACK, inspired by the poignant, comic and uplifting true story of a man who must suddenly raise his two sons alone. After the untimely passing of his second wife, the ill-prepared Joe (Clive Owen) is confronted with the daily challenges of parenthood, while coping not only with his own loss but also with his young son Artie’s expressions of grief. They soon are joined by Harry, Joe’s teenage son from his first marriage, who brings his own personal “baggage” into the mix.
Your performance in this is great, it seems to me this is the most emotional part you’ve ever played, was that what attracted you to the part?
Clive Owen: It was a very beautiful script, I was taken when I read the script. I thought it was unusual in it’s delicacy and intelligence in exploring these relationships, it wasn’t obvious or overly sentimental, it was very delicate and precise. I found it terribly moving. I’m a father myself and parenting is a huge part of my life, when reading the script and getting to the part when he has to tell his boys their mother might not be around for much longer I found it deeply upsetting, just the whole idea of that conversation, then there was this beautiful exploration of both grief and parenting from a guys perspective, it was never heavy or sentimental it was just beautifully written.
When your a doing a film like this, that does have so much emotion and such a journey, there is a chance it will become sentimental or gloopy, I think to the films credit it never felt like that for me, was it hard to keep away from that?
Clive Owen: Scott Hicks and I, the first time we met we were both adamant that we didn’t want to make that kind of film. Personally from my point of view I’ve seen lot’s of family movies, where the family is in this lovely warm bubble and even when things get tough, it stays lovely and sweet, family’s aren’t like that, it’s much more volatile than that, this was a script and project that dealt with it more realistically.
I was always more interested in the times when it was tougher in the film for instance when Artie has the tantrum in the car, I have been in situations like that with my children, I think kids pre 8 or 9 are kind of crazy and manic obsessive and they go into their funks and you have to try and get them out of it, as a parent I could really relate to that scene, I wanted it to be really hard for my character, because all parents will relate. If this was a big hollywood movie, with lot’s of producers caring what would be done, people would worry about the likeability of the character or why are they being so mean to each other, it’s not bad parenting in those situations and I was confident as a parent people would relate to it, they have been in those experiences, it’s not bad parenting, that’s just the up’s and down’s of bringing up children, it was something that was very well explored in the script and which I thought we should keep to as much as possible.
It’s rare that a film like this is from from a man’s point of view.
Clive Owen: Yeah, added to that it’s a memoir based on somebody’s life, those things happened, it’s not a nice idea for a film, it’s all drawn from real experience.
You have so many different types of roles in the films you pick, is that on purpose?
Clive Owen: I don’t set out, I think at the end of the day my career is made up of all my individual choices I’ve made, it is literally an instinctive response, I respond to the material, I read Shoot Em Up and laughed all the way through and thought I want to do that film, it’s crazy and I read this script and I’m interested in it for other reasons. I trained in the theatre, which is all about playing lots of different parts, I enjoy exploring different aspects of myself in the films and people have said to me this film is quite a departure, I never saw it as that but enough people have told me now, I’ve got to accept it.
I’m a parent and being a parent is a big part of my life so I recognised and felt I had similar experiences to a lot of things in the movie, so it felt reasonably familiar, I didn’t have the tragic loss but in terms of the up’s and down’s of parenting I felt I experienced a few of them, at the end of the day it’s all about responding to the material and wanting to work with the director that’s what dictates my decision.
The Boys Are Back is released in the UK January 22nd
I’ve had a very lazy Christmas break, I was meant to put this up on Boxing in time for the UK release date, but I was too busy chillaxing and lazing about for once! If you missed part 1 of the interview you can check it out here. It’s good to hear the film is doing so well in the states, it made $65 million over the weekend (big chee$e) and is being recieved very well critically.
What was your devotion to martial arts like, according to the production notes you’ve been doing it for 6 years and also how did you prepare for the bare knuckle boxing scene?
Robert Downey Jnr: There was a choreographed version of it, I went in and got all pissed about it, Guy came in and we worked on it, so I think your seeing probably version 6.0 by the time we shot it, Guy is a jiu jitsu fella we managed to get along some how!
It was so fun though, by the time we had finished shooting that scene I felt like we really had a handle on the movie and not because I took my top off and showed my rippling abs and self important garbage but because this was Guys idea and it was really a bold thing and it could have gone really poorly, in which case the rest of the movie is trying to recover from the bad Guy Ritchie scene we went out and shot but it was literally perfect, it set the tone, it was really his take. We had to trust each other and get each others approval. I’m crazy about fighting, I love it (laughs)
Why do you love filming in Britain and Jude what’s it like filming in your hometown?
Robert Downey Jnr: I was here 20 years ago and the food SUCKED, and I wasn’t particularly happy when I was here, I was doing a film called Air America, I renamed it Air Generica and we were at Pinewood Studios, then I came back and did Chaplin but I think there is something about the work ethic here, the people, the culture, as Americans we sometimes have an abrupt attitude, there’s a much more civilized way to operate over here. For me the film was a huge experience, it was the proper way to do things and I’ve taken everything forth.
Jude Law: The production designer done an amazing job, we’d turn up everyday amazed, they had been preparing for days, there was so much detail, it was exquisite, it’s always fun to be out and about and film, rather than in a studio, I like getting my boots dirty, it was fun, it’s always fun working in the UK.
Guy are we gonna lose you to Hollywood or are you gonna still make the smaller Independent films?
Guy Ritchie: I don’t know, I really just make the films I want to make, the interesting thing about this experience was that it wasn’t the cliché experience between film-maker and studio, I argued for the studio, I wanted to make an assessable, broad film and they wanted the Guy Ritchie’isms so I was arguing for the studio and they were arguing for me, it was like two people going to the bar and both insisting the other should pay, so all the arguments between the studio and myself were coming from a positive place. I think studios have changed as well with there approach to film-makers, I had a tremendous experience from beginning to end, there was no us and them.
Why Sherlock Holmes out of all the iconic characters?
Guy Ritchie: Partly because I was invested in him as a child, I had a really strong visual sense about who I thought Sherlock Holmes should be, not only that but I had not seen any other productions, unlike most people I had no visual reference other than what I had knocked up in my mind. Warners came up to me with the idea and as soon as they mentioned it, I was fascinated.
What were the re-shoots about, there was a lot of talk about that earlier this year?
Guy Ritchie: In every film I’ve ever done we always leave a contingency for a week because you never know what’s gonna surface during the editing process, so we always leave a week and we left a week. The films the film we all intended to make. On the DVD there are no deleted scenes, there was no fat.
I recently talked to a Flicksandbits favorite Idris Elba about his musical alter ego Driis, through which he is releasing his 5-track EP, High Class Problems Vol 1 Febuary 8th. The EP includes the Pete Rock-produced single “Please Be True,” leaked track “Best I Can” and the new single `Private Garden` (produced by 9th Wonder), preparing music fans for his album due in late 2010 on Hevlar Recordings.
2010 is set to be another huge year for Idris, who made his name starring as the infamous Stringer Bell in HBO’s The Wire. Also look out for him in major blockbusters including Takers, The Losers, and his feature Legacy (in which he is also the executive producer), but Driis will also be performing at a series of lives dates across the UK, Europe and the US, as well as several DJ guest spots.
The EP wasn`t what I was expecting I thought it would be more of a straight Hip Hop vibe to it but it`s very very musical, you`ve got the reggae and soul elements on there as well. It`s very grown.
Idris Elba: I wanted to just experiment you know what I mean, there`s certain things I wanted to express, I`m not a singer, but there were certain ideas I needed to express in that way. Moving in the future I think I`ll be more of a hybrid with the rap stuff and the spoken word stuff and what I`m doing with this, I wanted people not to expect anything, it is a grown album, it`s an easy listening type album, you can listen to it back and get your romance on.
Seeing as your a DJ as well, does what you play as a DJ influence the EP and the sound?
Idris Elba: Yeah in a weird sense, songs like Best I Can & Please Be True come from when I was growing up Djing, that mid tempo sound, the Soul 2 Soul stuff, your Mica Paris`s you could have played them in a dance, it was deemed more of a grown thing and I definitely miss that. Djing in the states I play a lot more House and more up-tempo pop stuff.
What was it like working with someone like Pete Rock? He must have been someone as a kid growing up you listened too.
Idris Elba: It was weird because he`s a legend, his process is not that dissimilar to mine, he works by himself in a isolated environment, he sent me the idea, I sent it back to him, he tweaked it, he`s a really cool nice guy, I love it when you meet someone who`s genuinely nice but successful and 9th Wonder he`s a legend of beat making that broken beat stuff he practically invented that stuff, he sent me that beat ages ago and I just wrote on it and he couldn`t believe it, he said he wasn`t expecting that.
Who are you gonna be working on with the album?
Idris Elba: We haven`t gotten a list of producers yet you know, honestly I wanna do a bit more production myself, I think I work better myself, I co-produced a couple tracks on the EP. When I work by myself I`m a little bit more adventurous. When you get a producer in, the idea is the fusion, to get both ideas together, but I still think I haven`t reached my potential as an artist so I wanna go and produce a lot of stuff myself, I want to do a lot more live music stuff. It`s hard to get my ideas across so I wanna do it myself.
You seem to like alter egos you`ve got this one Driis, Mr Me Innit and acting in general, is that something you enjoy getting into – another mind frame?
Idris Elba: Yeah I think because I`m always fighting the your just an actor your just an actor, I like to be like yes I`m an actor so let me reinvent this character, his name is Driis, his names Mr Me Innit which were fun songs that I`d never get away with going out there as Idris Elba. It`s a character, Driis is another persona, I just feel with music you can be a lot more honest, with acting you have to be politically correct, with being a musician you say what you want.
How do relax and spend you free time? You`ve got so much on, a number of movies next year, two ep`s, an album.
Idris Elba: Like Nas said sleep is the cousin of death, I feel like if you`ve got a dream you`ve got to work at it to make it right, you`ve got to check out a book called the Outliers, a good book by Malcolm Gladwell, in it he says geniuses spend at least 20,000 hours on what they`re a genius at, that`s all they do focus. Talking about Jay Z for example he WORKS, your can`t even talk to him, their whole existence is work, they may be geniuses but they`ve worked at it. But me my ambitions are really out there so I have to work at it.
What sort of music keeps you inspired? What have you been listening to lately?
Idris Elba: Here`s the thing bruv, I tend to listen to outside of the genre I`m trying to make, I just got into Kasabian`s new album, just because it`s completely different, I like their song writing, their production, the way they do things. I listen to a lot of old stuff, right now I`m listening to old bands, you know the ones who used to play everything live and record it all in one room, one shot, listening to each instrument and the resonance of each instrument is great. Salaam Remi and I have been talking a lot lately and that`s what he does, he produced Amy Wineshouse Back To Black album, he said Amy came to him and told him that`s the sound she wants, so they thought how`s best to get that sound, do it how they used to, use the same instruments, same recorder, everything.
You`ve got Thor filming in a couple months, that`s gonna a big film
Idris Elba: Yeah man I`m filming that in Febuary, that`s gonna be excellent, I can`t say too much about it though, they`ve signed me to silence, it`s a big Marval comic, it`s exciting, I`ve got a big sword, a real big sword!
Have you got any last words, anything else we should look forward to in 2010?
Idris Elba: High Class Problems Vol 1 is definitely an introduction to what I`m doing as a musician, what I`m gonna be doing more as a musician is releasing lots of one off singles, freestyles a lot more, I`m gonna be a lot more involved, I`m gonna do it more over here than in the states for now, because I want my people to support me, but definitely look out for me, I`m gonna try and experiment.
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Fanboys all around the world just jizzed all over there keyboards, the highly anticipated trailer for Iron Man 2 has finally been released and it’s pretty good at that! You get a good view of all the side characters – War Machine, Whiplash, Justin Hammer, Nick Fury and Black Widow. The buzz for this film is crazy, I can see this making a gazillion dollars, I wasn’t a huge first of the first one, I thought it was good just not a stand out film for me, this really does look like a step up.
Any movie that Jennifer Aniston is involved in I instantly get put off, she seems to play the same character every single film, hopefully this is a bit ‘edgier’, which is the impression I get from the poster, you never know though, it is directed by Andy Tennant, the man behind Hitch, which to put it lightly was sh*t. I do like Gerard Butler though, so I’ll try very very hard to keep an open mind about this. For a little bonus check out some extracts of an interview with Gerard Butler I did a few months back below.
The movie focuses on a bounty hunter (Butler) hired to retrieve his ex-wife (Aniston), who has skipped bail and we should have a trailer for the movie later on today. The Bounty Hunter is released 16th April 2010.
You seem to be stripping of in all your movies with 300 and P.S I Love what’s that about?
Gerard Butler: (Laughs) Trust me if I could leave my clothes on in a movie I’d rather do that any time, but if I’m gonna get undressed I’m gonna do it as well as I can(Laughs). Whenever I hear people say that’s sexy for the few people that say that I think are you insane!
What was the roll that cracked it for you?
Gerard Butler: It depends you know, in terms of in the business with people saying that that guy can act it was in Dear Frankie, it didn’t make a lot of money but it was the movie that if the directors watched it something positive would come out of it, The Phantom Of The Opera was another one it didn’t do that well financially. But if you mean REALLY cracking it would have to be 300. I think there’s something to be said for sticking to your guns and doing what you believe in, because that will become the most effecting, I remember when I was doing Dear Frankie I thought the movie was a beautiful movie, I didn’t care it didn’t do well, I think it’s sad it got lost in the haze of marketing. But then again I made Dracula 2000 (laughs) and with that Joel Schumacher saw me in that and said I wanna work with that guy one time, from that came the Phantom Of The Opera so it show’s if you do shit that might even work out (laughs).
You grew up in Glasgow and lived in London are cities the same all over, do they have this sort of culture?
Gerard Butler: I think there’s a lot of similarities between Glasgow and London, there’s a lot of the same sort of characters they just have different accents, I think with every city and society they have similar echelons of that society middle class, working class, criminals from what I’ve seen.
What do you miss most about Scotland living in the states?
Gerard Butler: Two things mainly, 1 the people and 2 the countryside. It’s such a beautiful country. It’s therapy when I go back. Everything relaxes, the people and the humour when you experience that. I was with a friend from Scotland in New York and my sides were splitting just the way he was saying things I thought I was gonna literally piss myself listening to him, I miss that about Scotland the sense of humour and sharpness that you share with your buddy’s .
Check out the International Trailer for Robin Hood below – it’s pretty good! If this this half as good as Gladiator I won’t be too disappointed, I LOVED Gladiator. To be honest though I’m in two minds about this film, I really like Russell Crowe, for me he is one of the best living actors, he has shown he can play this sort of roll brilliantly, the supporting cast (Mark Strong is one the most underrated actors of our generation) is also quality as welltop draw. The problem I have with this is that another non British actor is playing another iconic British character (not to mention the rest of the cast is very non British), I believe over the last 2 decades this country has produced enough quality actors to play roles such as Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes, there are a number of British actors that would be great as Robin Hood – Christian Bale (maybe Batman, John Connor and Robin Hood would be pushing it), Tom Hardy, Toby Kebbell (he’s from Nottingham!), Paddy Considine, Dominic West, Daniel Craig, Jim Sturgess and Tim Roth to name a few.
I’m probably being a little unfair, Imagine Entertainment in this current financial climate are spending over $130 million on this film, they want to at least know they’ve got a bankable Oscar winner in Russell Crowe. Also Ridley Scott is a GREAT Director who obviously knows a lot more about creating classic films than me – this is the man who brought the world Alien, Blade Runner and American Gangster! I guess we’ll have to wait and see, the Film is due for release on May 14, 2010