We have to ask: How good did it feel to make Jude Law cry like a baby in Closer?
[Laughs.] You have to remember, I played Jude’s character onstage. I took that whooping every night for months, so I knew what it felt like.
You also shared some intense scenes with Julia Roberts in that one. How was it reuniting with her in Duplicity?
Working with Julia again was a serious treat. We had a good thing going from before, and we have a similar, odd sense of humor.
Who do you guys play?
We’re corporate spies who decide to pull off a scam together, but since our characters know each other so well, they each think the other is trying to pull something. Oh, they’re also lovers who are crazy about each other.
Your other new movie, The International, is about A Greedy bank. Pretty timely...
It was relevant when we were making it, but it’s become ridiculously more so. Suddenly people are wondering what banks do with all their money, and that’s what the film is about.
How much fun was it destroying the replica of the Guggenheim in that movie?
It’s weird. We took a trip there before we began shooting, and the woman who was showing us around on behalf of the museum turned to me at one point and said, “It’s about time there was a shootout in this place.”
You and Naomi Watts have amazing chemistry in The International, but the two of you never hook up. Were you bummed out about that?
Ha, I love Naomi, but there wasn’t any of that.
You’ve acted with some incredibly beautiful women. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Aniston, Monica Bellucci, Jessica Alba...
Yeah, what can I say? It’s, like, a seriously good part of this job.
Most American guys first saw you in Sin City. Was shooting that a crazy time?To be honest, I had no idea I was in that movie until I saw it. I did two weeks in an empty studio in Texas with [director] Robert Rodriguez saying, “This is going to be here, and that’s going to be there.” Then I saw it and was blown away. I couldn’t believe I was actually in the thing.
Is there going to be a Sin City 2?
No idea. People have been talking about it since the first one came out, but I know nothing.
How hard was it to do those super-long takes in Children of Men?
We didn’t get many goes at them, because the resets would literally take half to three quarters of a day. And the sequence at the camp at the end? If I blew a take, I’d have to go home and just try again the next day. We were very ambitious.
What on earth did you and Spike Lee talk about when you were making Inside Man? Spike is crazy about sports, but I was shocked that he’s very into soccer, just like me. I was skeptical at first, but he actually knows what he’s talking about. He even came over to England for the Arsenal-Liverpool game, which we went to together.
Did he take you to any Knicks games?That was our first meeting. We didn’t actually talk about Inside Man at all; he just said at the end of the game, “So you doing it or what?”
It was widely reported you were up for the role of James Bond. It seems that any decent-looking guy with a British accent can be rumored for that role.
That’s exactly what it was, just rumor.
Do you like Daniel Craig’s take?
I do, yeah. It was a very smart choice, because he’s not an obvious, posing actor. He’s come up with a whole new Bond for our time.
That cameo you did on Extras, where you play yourself as a total prick, was hilarious. How did that come about?
Ricky Gervais rang me up—I’m a crazy fan of his—and asked me to do it. He pitched me the scene on the phone, and I was like, “I’m in.”
Ever have a hankering to do more comedy?
I would do more comedies, but, amazingly enough, I don’t get sent them that much.
You got your start onstage in Oliver! Are there more musicals in your future?
No. Clive Owen is definitely not a singer.
You had a long career in Britain, with successful movies and TV shows and plays, before making your mark in the U.S. What’s the biggest difference between working in Hollywood and England?
Money! If you don’t make an impact in America, it’s very hard to have a film career.
When you’re working in the U.S., is there anything you miss?
The only thing that is truly important to me is making sure I get to watch the football games in my trailer. It’s important.
Women think you’re pretty much the sexiest guy around. Any advice for us mortals on capturing that Clive owen magic?
I have no advice whatsoever.