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Feature: Children of Men

Children of the Revolution

Clive Owen

One day, Humankind will cease to exist… We caught up with Clive Owen and the cast and crew of Children of Men to discover what it’s like to face such a fate.

It’s lunchtime on the set of Alfonso Cuarón’s ambitious dystopian thriller Children of Men, and as cast, crew and visiting journalists tuck into a meaty casserole, with apple crumble for afters, Clive Owen emerges to chat about the film. After a gruelling morning spent rehearsing an intricate action sequence that is to be shot in one long and very elaborate take, Owen seems, understandably, a little subdued. Occasionally fixing those around him with his arresting emerald green eyes, the actor gives each question thrown at him due consideration before delivering his articulate answers.

“I’m a big fan of Alfonso. I was a very big fan of his work. And it was such an intelligent, unusual take on a story like this,” he says when asked why he took the role of Theo Faron in Children of Men. “I think he’s trying to do something very bold and adventurous and different and the thing for me is to be playing such a reluctant hero in a way. A guy that’s thrown out of his usual world into this extraordinary place.” The ‘extraordinary place’ Owen is referring to is the near-future originally created by renowned crime writer PD James in her 1992 classic The Children of Men.

Set in Britain, James’s book depicts a world where the Human race has become infertile and resigned to its own extinction. With an oppressive government in place to make sure that the UK’s population goes into the grave with a whimper not a bang, a group of revolutionaries contacts the terminally cynical Faron and lets him in on an earth-shattering secret that will forever alter his worldview.

It’s very difficult whenever you do things that are based on books because you start hankering after stuff that’s in the book but it’s just a different animal by then,” says Owen, who read James’s novel but decided to concentrate on the heavily revised film script that Cuarón oversaw. “Alfonso has taken this premise and very much done his own thing with it and I think you’ve just got to go with the script and the film at the end of the day.”

Constantly rubbing the palm of his hand and only intermittently making eye contact, Clive Owen comes off as rather shy, although he’s quick to vehemently correct any misapprehension about Cuarón’s film. “No, no, no. It’s not science fiction at all,” he urges when someone suggests a genre for Children of Men. “Alfonso’s version of 30 years in the future is now, but worse. It’s not about that [science fiction]. It’s about something else. It’s like the world is in a very sad and upsetting place.”

by Chris Prince

Read the full interview and more from the movie in
Film Review (Sep)

Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Sep), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Sep)
#674, September 2006
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