Clive Owen made our 2004 Entertainers of the Year list
''I'm one of those weird actors,'' Clive Owen is saying, ''who loves playing those sorts of scenes.'' The scenes in question are brutal exchanges of violent verbal intimacy in Closer scenes where, among other things, his character, Larry, bludgeons his wife (Julia Roberts) with news of his dalliance with a hooker, then demands, in kind, painful details of her own indiscretions; where he asks a stripper (Natalie Portman) to tell him her real name, in a tone that sounds like the back of a hard hand. And yet, Owen says, ''I don't find going to uncomfortable places to be uncomfortable.''
Granted, it must have been somewhat uncomfortable to see his muddy medieval adventure King Arthur Owen's first big-studio lead sink at the box office. But Hollywood and filmgoers noticed his kingly work in the lead role. ''He's kind of a big Bogart,'' says Closer producer John Calley, and there is something Bogie about Clive Owen's suffer-no-fools mien. Congratulated on his stellar Closer notices, he almost grumbles, ''I don't know. Whatever.''
So would you mind terribly if the Academy gave you an Oscar nomination, Clive? Would that be a terrible imposition? He guffaws, deep and low, like hell's own bellows. ''What do you think?'' he snorts. ''Of course it would.''