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Clive Owen wasn’t looking to star in a TV show, but one phone call changed his mind.
“I wasn’t looking at all to sort of do television,” confessed Owen during The Hollywood Reporter’s TV Drama Actor Roundtable. “Steven Soderbergh called me up. He’d read this one script, and he said, ‘I think I want to turn it into a 10-hour TV show. Let me know what you think.’ Fifty minutes later, there was no way I would not be doing it.”
He discussed his reservations in going back to television after doing a lot TV work when he was younger. Nervous about the amount of exposure that comes with working on a show, he explained, “As an actor you show your wares. You show everything you can do and people get very used to what you can do.”
He contrasted TV work with film, saying, “There’s something about the format of film where you sort of arrive in something, you play a specific character, you then appear in something else. You can hold your cards a bit closer. And in TV, it’s demanding, it’s a lot, and you’re constantly revealing, in a way.” But The Knick presented something different: “It was such a wild, original piece of material and a character that I didn’t feel was particularly close to me, that I felt absolutely fine about it.”
He added, “Every now and then you come across a piece of material that sort of awakens why you do what you do.”
The actor also credited getting into drama school and a “tiny little film” called Croupier “that didn’t release, but escaped” as the two moments in his life that reset the trajectory of his career.
Owen sat down with Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), David Oyelowo (Nightingale), Justin Theroux (The Leftovers), Timothy Hutton (American Crime) and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan) for THR‘s Roundtable, where some of this year’s hottest television actors discussed their current roles and dramatic process.
The full Drama Actor Roundtable aired on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. EST on Sundance TV. Tune in this Sunday for the next episode.
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