Interview with M. Butterfly star Clive Owen

Clive Owen

The New York Theatre Guide recently caught up with Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Clive Owen. The British actor is currently starring as Rene Gallimard in the first-ever Broadway revival of David Henry Hwang's Tony Award-winning play M. Butterfy, directed with a stylized, Brechtian touch by Tony Award winner Julie Taymor. Mr. Owen made his Broadway debut in September 2015 as Deeley in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Harold Pinter's Old Times at the American Airlines Theatre. We were curious to find out what keeps bringing him back to the stage and how he developed the intimate connection with his co-star Jin Ha...


Clive Owen
Photo by Tom Millward

In general, what is it that keeps enticing you back to the theatre and what was it about this project in particular that attracted you?

Well, that’s a good question because it took me 13 years to come back to the theatre. A couple of years ago, I hadn’t done a play in a long time. I started with the theatre and that’s what I loved. I felt I had to do it. It was time to go back. I kinda re-awakened why I became an actor and what got me into it in the first place. And to be honest with you, I wouldn’t have done this play, if I hadn’t done the Harold Pinter play [Old Times] 2 years ago. That was a reminder and a re-awakening for me and then this amazing opportunity came. It’s an amazing play. She’s an amazing director. The true story that this play is based on is one of the most amazing I have ever read. It just felt too rich an opportunity to pass on.

Any plans to grace the West End stage in your native England in the near future?

Honestly, the whole thing about coming back to the stage was something that was niggling me for some time. I needed to go back and wake myself up. These two plays have happened and I’ve spent my whole career getting inspired by things and then I want to do it. It can be anything – TV, film, theatre. If the right thing comes along, I’ll do it. I’ll do anything and I’ll move anywhere. That’s how I’ve always managed my career.

When working with your co-star Jin Ha and playing two such intimate roles, how do you break the ice as actors and form that special connection on stage?

It was very easy. Jin is a recent graduate from NYU and he’s such a fine actor already. So, it was very easy. He’s already got down the fact that actors are only ever as good as the scene they are in. Our relationship in the play – if it doesn’t work together, then we have no play. He’s a very smart, young guy and he knows that already. I’ve had a great time working with him.


Clive Owen & Jin Ha
Photo by Tom Millward

M. Butterfly Tickets are available now for performances through to February 25, 2018 at the Cort Theatre.

(Production Photo by Matthew Murphy)