Recently breaking into the top ranks of British superstars who are making it huge in Hollywood, the smoothly virile actor Clive Owen was born on October 3, 1964, in Coventry. His father was a country/western singer who deserted his family when Clive was only 3. He attended Binley Park Comprehensive School and joined the youth theater at 13 after playing the scene-stealing role of the Artful Dodger in a production of "Oliver!" In 1984, following graduation, Clive applied and was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for three years. While there, he built up a classical resume including roles in "Henry IV, Part I" and "The Lady from the Sea." He subsequently joined the Young Vic Theatre Company and in 1988, the handsome actor, while playing Romeo, fell in love with his Juliet, Sarah-Jane Fenton. The couple eventually married in 1995 and have two daughters.
1988 was a good year for another reason. Clive made his film debut in the British-made Vroom (1990) co-starring with David Thewlis as two fellows who restore a classic American car and take off on the road. Within two years, Clive became a full-fledged TV star playing devilish rogue Stephen Crane in "Chancer" (1990). However, the now-sought-after Clive abandoned the star-making part at the height of the show's popularity because of unwanted invasion of privacy and his fear of typecasting. His next project raised more than a few eyebrows when he filmed Close My Eyes (1991) in which he played a brother who acts on his incestuous desires for his older sister. Clive's reputation as a lovable shyster was completely shattered and he lost profitable commercial endorsements following the film's release. Offers fell off for the next two years as a result. But the persistent Clive carried on with stage work, including the role of a bisexual in a production of Noel Coward's "Design For Living." He returned to TV at that time as well and played a number of roles in both mini-movies and series.
In 1997, Clive had a huge hit on the London stage with "Closer," a cynical, contemporary ensemble piece about relationships. Controversy surrounded him again in the film role of Max in Bent (1997) playing a brash, reckless homosexual lothario in decadent pre-war Germany who finds unconditional love while interned in a Nazi war camp. His biggest film break, however, was in Mike Hodges' Croupier (1998), as a struggling writer-turned-casino employee who gets in over his head with a femme fatale scam artist. English audiences stayed away in droves but the U.S. embraced the film and Hollywood took notice of Clive, who was virtually unknown outside of England. Despite playing detective Ross Tanner in a series of successful "Second Sight" mini-movies and finding critical acclaim on stage with "The Day in the Death of Joe Egg" in 2001, Clive has focused primarily on film, including the offbeat Brit romantic comedy Greenfingers (2000), the classy and popular Robert Altman film Gosford Park (2001), the Matt Damon star-vehicle The Bourne Identity (2002), and the title role in King Arthur (2004). He has since reached the top rungs of the Hollywood ladder with the film version of his stage smash Closer (2004/I) co-starring Julia Roberts, in which he received an Academy Award nomination and won the BAFTA award for "Supporting Actor"; opposite Denzel Washington in Inside Man (2006); and alongside Julianne Moore and Michael Caine in Children of Men (2006). Upcoming is his portrayal of Sir Walter Raleigh opposite Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth I in the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). There seems to be only bigger and better things awaiting this versatile talent. Ever since playing the ultra-cool driver in BMW's "The Hire" series, there has been constant pressure for Clive to don a tux and become filmdom's next "James Bond". It has yet to happen, but it seems like it would be a perfect fit.