4 Best Clive Owen Performances

Clive Owen is back! This time, the British actor plays the nefarious villain in the latest Will Smith flick, Gemini Man, which features motion capture and computer-generated imagery to have Smith star opposite a younger version of himself. While viewers contend with double Will Smith (a growing trend, as Paul Rudd’s Living with Myself shows) and the computerized anti-aging technology (also featured in Scorsese’s The Irishman), they also get to contend with one of the most fleshed-out villains in recent years. Clive Owen’s Hollywood career has spanned decades and has seen him cover a multitude of roles, including a spate as the leading man. But, for those who simply recognize him as “that man from that film”, here are some of Clive Owen’s best star performances.

Croupier (1998)

In Mike Hodges’s Croupier, which grossed $7,075,068 worldwide, Clive Owen plays Jack Manfred, a casino croupier. It was one of Owen’s first roles and he took to the neo-noir drama well. Manfred is a writer, so the story is told through third-person monologues about his life in the casino. The tortured artist character plays out on screen well and has you rooting for him throughout the film, leaving you on the edge of your seat as the third act begins.

The film’s tension comes in part through the blackjack scenes, which takes the essence of the simple card game that is also infused with tension as the player has to make strategic decisions in limited timeframes. Since the release of this film, the card game has only become more popular, with online blackjack variants allowing those with an interest to play against real-life dealers in real-time, though players of these variants shouldn’t expect to see Clive Owen reprising his role at such games…

Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron’s post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller, allowed Clive Owen to switch gears and take the reins as the hero. Beginning the film desensitized to the events around him, the character development that Owen’s character, Theo Faran, undergoes proves his acting mettle. In a world where humanity seems to be ending, finding the first pregnant woman in 20 years leads Owen’s character on a perilous mission to protect her and ensure humanity survives. The emotional journey the character takes adds a human touch to a world devoid of it. The film, unfortunately, didn’t pack the theaters as expected and ended up in the red, with its gross of $38.4 million not making a dent in the $72 million budget.

Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012)

Clive Owen can play emotional, he can play the leading man, and he can even play biographical. Hemingway & Gellhorn saw Owen take on the role of Ernest Hemingway as he falls in love with fellow writer, Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman). The HBO biopic saw Owen receive praise for his portrayal of Hemingway’s eccentricities and elaborate personality. While some critics were shaken from the raw performance by Owen’s patchy American accent, the film went on to deem both characters were portrayed well. The task of playing someone recognizable is always difficult for any actor, and Owen showed that he could handle the source material as well as he could concoct a completely new character.

Closer (2004)

Owen’s best performance may just be the one that earned him a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award, as well as an Oscar nomination. Closer, Patrick Marber’s romantic drama, based on his play, was directed by Mike Nichols and co-starred Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, and Jude Law. The recipe for success continued as the plot saw the two couples entangled in affairs and told the story of fidelity, infidelity, and responses to love. Owen’s performance particularly drew attention from viewers as his reaction to being cheated on saw his character break down before the eyes of the viewer. The heavily award-nominated film grossed $115,505,027, which helped cement it as one of Clive Owen’s most successful forays into film. The role was a character piece, which allowed Owen to showcase the very best of his acting ability.

Clive Owen is one of the UK’s best exports and throughout his expansive 30+ year film career, he has shown he has the acting chops and the rugged good looks to be one of the brightest film stars. While his face is recognizable to many, his name might require some bells to be rung. But a string of upcoming roles in major movies and Apple TV+ series, leading to him being accessible to the Netflix generation of viewers, should give Clive Owen the accolades that he deserves.