Once tipped as the heir apparent to Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, Coventry native Clive Owen is best known for intelligent action/thrillers such as “Sin City”, “Inside Man” and “Shoot-em-up”, but this month he stars in “Shadow Dancer”, a drama based on true events co-starring Andrea Riseborough as an IRA operative forced to spy on her own people by ‘Mac’, an ambitious MI5 agent (Owen).
“I was really impressed with how tight the script was” he says when asked why he signed on to the film. “I loved the premise; from the minute it started, I was gripped and wanted to know where it was going to go. It was one of those scripts where you didn’t need to do too much to it.” Set during the early 90’s, during the troubles in Northern Ireland, the film brings back harsh memories for the actor. “I actually went to Belfast during that time” he recalls. “I did a play and stayed in Belfast for a week during the Troubles and it was rough, it was a war zone. And it was only when I went into the production office for this film and saw all the pictures they’d put on the wall from that time that I was like, “Wow, they’ve come a long way.” Because it’s not that long ago and it was a very different place then.”
Despite being linked to 007 in the past (Owen publicly distanced himself from the role before it eventually went to Daniel Craig), Owen insists this MI5 agent is a different character entirely. “It’s not the clichéd version of the government agent; it’s not the clichéd MI5 guy because very quickly he’s kind of trapped outside of his own world. He’s not included and he’s floating in a strange place. He’s not the obvious, clear-cut government agent. He begins to see that people are doing things around him that he doesn’t approve of.
Finally, in the film Mac makes a promise to Riseborough’s character Collette, and struggles to keep his word. Has he ever been in a similar position? “Only when I’ve said yes to a film!” he jokes. “I can’t think outside of my career when I’ve had to do that but yes, you often have to do that: give somebody your word. “Are you in Clive?” “Yes, I’m in – you have my word!” I don’t like to give my word and not stay true to it. I think it’s important.”
“Shadow Dancer” is out now and was reviewed in August’s issue
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