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Action Hero Clive Owen, Battling Inner Demons

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Action Hero Clive Owen, Battling Inner Demons

Movies

Action Hero Clive Owen, Battling Inner Demons

Action Hero Clive Owen, Battling Inner Demons

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/113681582/113697964" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Clive Owen On The Beach i

The Boys Are Back stars Clive Owen as a father who finds himself raising his young son alone after his wife dies of cancer. The pair are then joined by his teenage son by his first wife. Matt Nettheim/Miramax Films hide caption

toggle caption Matt Nettheim/Miramax Films
Clive Owen On The Beach

The Boys Are Back stars Clive Owen as a father who finds himself raising his young son alone after his wife dies of cancer. The pair are then joined by his teenage son by his first wife.

Matt Nettheim/Miramax Films

The film The Boys Are Back opens with a scene of a father driving his SUV along a beach in Australia with his young son laughing in the sea breeze — while riding on the hood of the car. But as carefree as the scene may be, the movie, says actor Clive Owen, is really about grief.

The Boys Are Back, which has been playing in select cities but opens nationwide this weekend, is based on a memoir by Simon Carr and directed by Scott Hicks. Owen stars as Joe Warr, a father who finds himself raising his young son alone after his wife dies of cancer. The pair are joined by Warr's teenage son by his first wife, who had been living with his mother in London.

Owen says the film's dialogue moved him from the first time he read the script. He was particularly struck by the idea of "watching a young boy of tender years, of 6 years old, and his father kind of grieving really but trying then to re-establish and to put their lives back on track. Then into the equation comes this whole new wave of relationship of the teenage boy, and he's come with all his feeling and his pain and all the stuff that he brings. It was full of the stuff of our lives, really."

Clive Owen and Julia Roberts in 'Duplicity' i

The role of the grieving father is a departure from Owen's recent role as an MI6 agent in Duplicity, opposite Julia Roberts. Universal Pictures hide caption

toggle caption Universal Pictures
Clive Owen and Julia Roberts in 'Duplicity'

The role of the grieving father is a departure from Owen's recent role as an MI6 agent in Duplicity, opposite Julia Roberts.

Universal Pictures

In the movie, the father responds to his grief and the struggle of being a single parent by allowing the boys to run wild. In one scene, he gives his youngest son permission to do cannonball dives into the bathtub. Owen, referencing the real-life struggles of the memoir's author, acknowledged that some of the things Carr allowed his sons to do "verged on irresponsibility."

"It was a radical approach," says Owen. "They were thrown in this awful situation and it was the way he chose to get through it."

Owen says he would never argue that Warr is a perfect dad, but it's important to remember that "grief's a very messy thing. It's not a clean thing." Owen says that one of the reasons he wanted to do the film was because of its honest portrayal of those messy emotions.

"It's uncompromising," he says of the extreme grief that comes from the loss of a loved one, "and you never ever get over it."

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