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Clive Owen Gets Wordy In New Romantic Comedy

British actor Clive Owen is known for his roles in thrillers such as “Killer Elite,” the dystopian “Children of Men” and Spike Lee’s heist drama “Inside Man.” But for his latest film, he goes into academia.

In “Words and Pictures,” Owen plays a poet turned prep school English teacher. His job is in jeopardy: he drinks too much and his teaching has become lackluster.

But a new art teacher, played by Juliette Binoche energizes his life as the two become engaged in a school-wide debate of words versus pictures and fall in love along the way.

Clive Owen discusses the film and how he chooses his roles, with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

Interview Highlights: Clive Owen

On his “Words and Pictures” character, Jack Marcus

“He has a drinking problem, yeah, and you see that straight away. At the beginning of the film, he’s very kind of jaded. He’s been at the school for a long time and everything’s gone a little flat, and you see him teaching and it’s not particularly inspired, and the kids aren’t particularly inspired. And then, Juliette Binoche plays a character that comes into the school, who’s an art teacher who’s struggling with her own problems, but she comes in and says very clearly to them that language is much less important than the visual arts, and it kind of wakes him up. It annoys him, it angers him but it also galvanizes him, and he kind of reawakens, you know, the passion that he had before and sort of passes that on to the students.”

On his own feelings about “words vs. pictures”

“In the industry I am, I know that both are equally important. I mean, I started in the theater, and I’d say that language is hugely important, and you know, I don’t take any film unless I think the dialogue’s in very good shape, because you say a bad line as an actor and you look like a bad actor. But also, I’ve been in movies where, you know, the director is a great visual storyteller and dialogue is less important, and I’ll maybe spend time trying to cut my lines down, because I know that the story’s being told in a different way. So I think both obviously go together and are hugely important.”

On how he goes about choosing film projects

“A career, at the end of the day, is a series of choices, and, you know, I’m always — I’ve always been somebody who, you know, I sort of choose my work not on the sort of size of the film, but whether I connect to it and feel I’ve got something to do in it. And I need to be passionate. I need to have an appetite to want to do it. So, yeah, that’s just the way the career shapes up.”



  • Clive Owen, British actor. He stars as Jack Marcus in “Words and Pictures.”

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Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are pictured in a still from "Words and Pictures." (Courtesy)
Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are pictured in a still from "Words and Pictures." (Courtesy)