x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

'Star hunt going global'

Hollywood will cast net wider for future talent, the British actor Clive Owen predicts.

ABU DHABI // The actor Clive Owen yesterday said the next generation of Hollywood film stars will not just come from the US or Europe but all over the world.

The British star of Closer and Children of Men made his prediction in front of an international audience as part of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

The previous night at the event's gala opening, he shared the red carpet with the Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody and Egyptian cinema's golden couple, Ahmed Helmi and Mona Zaki.

Yesterday, Owen, 46, said Hollywood filmmakers were increasingly looking around the world for talent because of the growing importance of the international film market.

"I think movie stars can almost come from anywhere now. Film is a big international medium, a lot of money is made outside America," Owen told the audience at the Abu Dhabi Theatre at the Breakwater.

"When I first started ... going for American movies, the only parts that English guys got were the bad guys, but now it's opened up, so I feel very fortunate that I'm around during this time."

Dressed in a casual white suit and trainers, the Golden Globe-winning actor also spoke about his tour on Thursday of Masdar, Abu Dhabi's sustainable city project. He said the location was "hugely impressive" and would be "an amazing set for a science-fiction movie".

Owen, who admitted he hates to watch himself on screen and does not understand being labelled a "heart-throb", has completed two new films, the action movie The Killer Elite, with Robert De Niro and Jason Statham, and Intruders, a psychological horror directed by Spain's Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.

For his next part, that of the US writer Ernest Hemingway in the forthcoming romantic drama Hemingway & Gellhorn, the actor said he was asked to gain a large amount of weight.

"I don't think you should take on a part like that without proper preparation, so I've got time to put the weight on," he said.

When asked about the specifics of his dietary regime, he replied simply: "More."

As well as discussing the changing face of cinema and his love for the work of the rock star David Bowie with Ed Lake, the deputy editor of The National's weekly Review section, the actor also took questions from audience members.

One question about the part of James Bond - a role Owen was heavily tipped to play before the surprise casting of Daniel Craig in 2005 - prompted a cagey reaction from the actor.

"I think Daniel Craig is a very good James Bond. Is he my favourite? No, I like all the Bonds."

Jennifer Heron, 28, a teacher from Ireland who works in Bahrain, brought her class of media studies students to the festival - and entertained the audience during the session with her clear admiration of the actor.

"On the red carpet last night he ran straight through, so we were determined to get him today," she said. "He was awesome and seemed like a very nice guy. His film Closer is one of my favourites, and of course it helps that he's very good looking."