Clive Owen is an Academy Award -nominated, and Golden Globe- and BAFTA-award winning English actor.
The fourth of five brothers, Owen was born in Coventry, West Midlands, England, the son of Pamela and Jess Owen. His father, a country and western singer, left the family when Owen was three years old, and despite a brief reconciliation when Owen was nineteen, the two have remained estranged. Raised by his mother and stepfather, a railway ticket clerk, he has described his childhood as "rough." While initially opposed to drama school, he changed his mind in 1984, after a long and fruitless period of searching for work. Owen graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1987 with a class that included Ralph Fiennes and Jane Horrocks. After graduation, he won a position at the Young Vic, performing in several William Shakespeare plays. In an incident he later described as "very schmaltzy", he met his future wife when the two performed the leads in Romeo and Juliet.
Initially, Owen carved out a career in television: in 1988 Owen starred as Gideon Sarn in a BBC production of Precious Bane and the Channel 4 film Vroom before the 1990s saw him become a regular on stage and television in the UK, notably his lead role in the ITV series Chancer, followed by an appearance in the Thames Television production of Lorna Doone.
He won critical acclaim for his performances in the 1991 Stephen Poliakoff film Close My Eyes, in which he has a full frontal nude scene, about a brother and sister who embark on an incestuous love affair; he subsequently appeared in The Magician, Class of '61, Century, Nobody's Children, An Evening with Gary Lineker, Doomsday Gun, Return of the Native, The Turnaround and then a Carlton production called Sharman, about a private detective. In 1996 he appeared in his first major Hollywood film The Rich Man's Wife alongside Halle Berry before finding international acclaim in a Channel 4 film directed by Mike Hodges called Croupier in 1998. He played the title role of a struggling writer who takes a job in a London casino as inspiration for his work, only to get caught up in a robbery scheme. In 1999 he appeared as an accident-prone driver in Split Second, his first BBC production for a decade.
He then starred in The Echo, a BBC1 drama. He starred in a film called Greenfingers about a criminal who goes to work in a garden, before appearing in the BBC1 mystery series Second Sight. In 2001 he provided the voice-over for a BBC2 documentary about popular music through the years called Walk On By, as well as starring in a highly-acclaimed theatre production called The Day in the Death of Joe Egg, about a couple with a severely handicapped daughter.
He became well known to North American audiences in the summer of 2001 after starring as The Driver in the The Hire, a series of short films sponsored by BMW and made by prominent directors. He then appeared in Robert Altman's Gosford Park, alongside an all-star cast including Helen Mirren and Ryan Phillippe. He has appeared in The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon. In 2003, he teamed up with Hodges again to make I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. He starred in Beyond Borders and took on the title role in King Arthur, for which he took horseback riding lessons.
Owen appeared in the West End and Broadway hit play Closer, by Patrick Marber, which was produced as a film, and was released in 2005. He played "Dan" in the play, but was "Larry" the dermatologist in the film version. His portrayal of Larry in the film version earned him a lot of recognition as well as the Golden Globe and BAFTA award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He noted that the expectations of him since the Oscar nomination have not changed the way he approaches film-making, stating "I try, every film I do, to be as good as I can and that's all I can do."
After Closer, he appeared in Derailed alongside Jennifer Aniston, the comic book thriller Sin City as the noir antihero Dwight McCarthy and as a mysterious bank robber in Inside Man. Despite public denials, Owen had long been rumored to be a possible successor to Pierce Brosnan in the role of James Bond. A public opinion poll in the United Kingdom in October 2005 (SkyNews) found that he was the public's number one choice to star in the next installment of the series. In that same month, however, it was announced that British actor Daniel Craig would become the next James Bond. In an interview in the September 2007 issue of Details, he claimed that he was never offered or even approached concerning the role. In 2006, Owen spoofed the Bond connection by making an appearance in the remake of The Pink Panther in which he plays a character named "Nigel Boswell, Agent 006" (when he introduces himself to Inspector Clouseau, he quips that Owen's character is "one short of the big time").
In 2006, Owen starred in the highly acclaimed Children of Men, for which he received widespread praise. The film was nominated for various awards, including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; Owen worked on the screenplay, although he was uncredited. The next year he starred alongside Paul Giamatti in the film Shoot 'Em Up and appeared as Sir Walter Raleigh opposite Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth I of England in the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age. He appeared in the Christmas special of the Ricky Gervais show Extras, as revealed in the video podcast teaser.
Owen was also the lead in 2009's The International, a film which he described as a "paranoid political thriller". It has been announced that Owen and Denzel Washington will return for the sequel to Inside Man, which will be released in 2010.
Owen lives in Highgate, London and Wrabness, north Essex, with his wife Sarah-Jane Fenton and their two daughters, Hannah and Eve.
In November 2006, he became patron of the Electric Palace Cinema in Harwich, England and launched an appeal for funds to repair deteriorating elements of the fabric.
He enjoys the music of indie rock band Hard-Fi and has been seen at two of their concerts, Brixton Academy, May 15, 2006 and Wembley Arena, December 18, 2007.
Owen has been a fan of Liverpool F.C. since he was a boy - despite hailing from Coventry.