He ought to be a massive movie star, but despite smouldering good looks and some big hits like Children of Men and The Inside Man, he isn’t.
Last year the Globe and Mail noted that Owen “remains just below popular radar” despite “critical acclaim for his acting chops.” He’s a Golden Globe and BAFTA winner and an Oscar nominee, so the acting chops aren’t in doubt, but being a movie star and being a good actor are not mutually exclusive. If so, Sam Rockwell and Casey Affleck would be superstars.
So why isn’t Owen in the mega leagues?
Partly by choice. It’s said that he prefers a quiet life in the coastal town of Harwich, England, with his wife of almost two decades and children, to walking a red carpet.
Fair enough, but I think the eclecticism of his choices prevents audiences from getting a handle on him.
This weekend, for instance, he plays a protective father who battles a bogeyman named Hollowface to protect his daughter in the horror film Intruders.
It’s not the first time he’s played a family man but in very different kinds of films, with varying portrayals.
In Trust he was a sensitive father shattered by his daughter’s involvement with an online predator and in The Boys Are Back he had to learn how to be a father to two kids he barely knew after his on-screen wife died.
Then there is the long list of action movies on his resumé. He has punched, kicked and shot his way through violent films that relied on cartoon theatrics like Shoot ’Em Up and Sin City, espionage thrillers like Killer Elite and The International and even spy comedies like The Pink Panther.
Then there are the swashbuckling period pieces like King Arthur and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, where he’s all ruffles and chain mail, and Gosford Park, a murder mystery set in 1932, where he plays Robert Parks, the valet to a wealthy land owner.
The only constants connecting Owen’s movies are his charisma — “I don’t ‘do’ emotion,” he says. “Emotions are overrated. I’m more interested in creating a presence” — and his acting ability. Mega star or not, no one can deny the guy has presence no matter what the role.