What is the best, little-known Clive Owen film? It's not Closer or Croupier; those highly praised films showed us that no one does compassionate, conflicted intensity better than Owen -- a quality that made him a natural for Shadow Dancer as an MI-5 agent who becomes disillusioned with his job.
Set in 1990's Belfast, James Marsh's smart, unsettling political thriller turns on the essential question of loyalty and betrayal, which extends to the relationship between Mac, the MI5 agent, and Colette (Andrea Riseborough), a young mother to whom he gives a nearly impossible choice: inform on her IRA cohorts or go to prison, leaving her small son behind. (You can find my interview with Andrea Riseborough and James Marsh here.)
The film keeps us guessing about both Mac and Colette's true motives, but in our one-on-one interview (that's my disembodied voice you hear while the camera stays, understandably, on Clive), he talks about what he believes was going through his character's mind.
As for the best unknown Clive Owen film, I nominated Antoine Fuqua's underrated King Arthur, while Owen himself chose a smaller, 2009 film in which he plays a widower with two sons. You can see why the film, directed by Scott Hicks (Shine) stumbled commercially. The title, The Boys Are Back, is awful (it was awful as the tagline for Entourage too), and the trailer makes it look treacly and cliched, while this delicate, lovely, powerful little film actually avoids those pitfalls. Here's a glimpse at the film Clive Owen wants you to catch up on: