Playing Ernest Hemingway, one of the most famous authors of the 20th century, could be a daunting task, but actor Clive Owen immediately accepted the challenge when told the film would be directed by Philip Kaufman and co-star Nicole Kidman. Kaufman also directed “The Right Stuff” and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” And Kidman won an Oscar in 2002 for “The Hours.”
In a video interview with Gold Derby, Owen explained, “You don’t take on a part like that like you would any other film. You have to sort of put extra time and extra prep in really, so I took six or seven months off, and I just immersed myself in all things Hemingway. I went to Havana, Cuba, and spent a week there with the people that run his house. I went to Paris, and somebody gave me a tour of everywhere he had lived. And I just read everything I could about him and his writings.”
The HBO film “Hemingway and Gellhorn” begins in 1936 when Hemingway met journalist Martha Gellhorn (Kidman) in Key West, Florida. After another encounter in Spain, they became lovers and stayed there covering the Spanish Civil War until 1939. He then divorced his second wife and married Gellhorn. It was a passionate and torrid relationship, but with her reputation growing as a war correspondent, he became more distant and demanding. During that time, she helped inspire one of his most well-known novels, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
One of Owen’s favorite aspects of portraying Hemingway was his furious passion for writing. He said that the film’s director “wanted to make writing seem a very masculine virility. Hemingway did type standing up. When you go to the house in Cuba, his typewriter was at a certain level, and he typed standing up. I always had that as a strong image to make writing a very physical strong thing.”
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Owen will be on the Emmy Awards ballot as a contender for Best TV Movie/Miniseries Actor this summer. Major contenders in his race include Kevin Costner (“Hatfields and McCoys”), Idris Elba (“Luther”), Woody Harrelson (“Game Change”), Bill Nighy (“Page Eight”), and Dominic West (“Appropriate Adult” or “The Hour”).
He won a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble of the 2001 film “Gosford Park.” Owen then prevailed as Best Film Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and BAFTA for the 2004 movie “Closer” and was also nominated for an Academy Award for that same role.
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