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A Kingly Role For Clive Owen

For centuries, the story of King Arthur has held a special place in folklore and legend. In the new movie, "King Arthur," British stage and screen actor Clive Owen plays the historic figure as the fall of the Roman empire gives birth to the British nation.

"For Arthur, the journey is a man who strongly believes in Rome," Owen explains to The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "He's half Roman, half British but feels much more in tune with his Roman side. Believes everything that Rome stands for, but it's changing and he discovers this through the movie, and with the help of Guinevere. She explains to him, 'You're a man of these people and can unite the chaos.' That's the journey of the character."

Although there was talk for quite a while that an Arthurian film was going to be made, Owen says he was very excited when the he actually had the script in hand and was offered the part. "I was thrilled, obviously," he says.

What he was not so thrilled about was having to ride a horse. He says, "I'd ridden a bit, not very well or successfully. I'd done a few movies and it hadn't gone well. Literally, the day the deal was done, I rang Jerry Bruckheimer's office and said, I'm on a horse tomorrow. That was probably two months before going."

And it was worth the effort, he says. "We ended up doing most of the stuff ourselves," Owen says. "Some of the horse stuff in there, you know, we're riding them at speeds into very dangerous environments: Smoke, fire, extras. And because both myself and the guys playing the knights put the work in, we were able to deliver most of it."

And to put in perspective the magnitude of the epic, he says, "You have to see the scale to appreciate it. They rebuilt Hadrian's Wall, that's a mile long. You have 700 extras dressed with fire, smoke, horses. When the battle was in full throttle, it had to be seen to be believed."

Asked about his career, Owen says, "I'm having a fantastic time, being offered lots of films and working with fantastic people."

As for him being the next 007, he says, "It's all rumor. It's all media speculation. I don't think about. All I know is that there are worse things to be associated with."

"King Arthur" opens nationwide on July 7.

Fast Facts About Clive Owen:

  • Born in Coventry, England, in 1965
  • Began studying acting as a teenager.
  • Made professional stage debut as member of the Young Vic company; played Claudio in "Measure for Measure" and Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet".
  • In 1988, made feature film debut in "Vroom." The following year, he made his U.S. TV debut in "Precious Bane," a two-part segment of the PBS series "Mystery!"
  • From 1990 to 1991, he played lead in Central Television series "Chancer." And in 1991, he won praise for his performance as an incestuous brother in Steven Poliakoff's, "Close My Eyes."
  • In 1993, was directed by Poliakoff in "Century," and made his American TV-movie debut in, "Class of '61" (ABC).
  • In 1996, had his first U.S. feature film, "The Rich Man's Wife." He also starred in the ITV series "Sharman."
  • In 1999, he played the title role in Mike Hodges' "Croupier;" the film became a popular art-house hit upon its 2000 release in America. He also introduced the character of Detective Inspector Ross Tanner, a policeman suffering a virus that affects his ability to see, in the BBC series "Second Sight"; it aired on PBS in the U.S.
  • In 2000, he co-starred as a prisoner with a flair for gardening in "Greenfingers;" it was screened at the Toronto Film Festival; first screen appearance opposite Helen Mirren.
  • In 2001, reprised role of Tanner in a second series of "Second Sight" (BBC-1), which aired on PBS in the U.S. He also played the valet to a visiting guest at "Gosford Park," the Robert Altman-directed period mystery; it was his second screen teaming with Helen Mirren.
  • In 2002, he co-starred in a villainous turn in "The Bourne Identity." And he starred opposite Angelina Jolie in the love story, "Beyond Borders."
  • In 2004, he starred in the thriller "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."

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