“She wouldn’t go.”
Owen is explaining why his wife has never attended a soccer match with him.
Have you invited her?
“She’s not interested.”
But have you invited her?
“I’m telling you, she wouldn’t go.”
Have. You. Invited. Her.
Owen pauses for barely a second and bursts out laughing. If you haven’t witnessed this before, it will scare the crap out of you. Owen is so still in repose that when he laughsand his is the loud, forceful, blow-your-hair-back kindit’s like a jack-in-the-box. It’s exhilarating and scary when it leaps out and instantly sobering when he snaps it back in.
This is the sort of thing that fanseven the ones who got to know him early on as the arrogant heartthrob Derek Love on the cult British TV series Chancerwouldn’t know about Owen. You don’t see pictures of him, as you do of his contemporaries such as Clooney and even Pitt, walking his pig, bumming around in oversize basketball shorts, or pushing his stroller through Hampstead Heath. Owen, if he’s photographed at all, is usually in the same black-suit-white-shirt uniform. His hair doesn’t change. His bearing doesn’t change. Hell, his expression rarely changes. That anonymity is mostly calculated. It’s a polite hand up, but a hand up nonetheless. “We just don’t court the attention,” Owen says. “I really believe you can carry yourself in such a way that people don’t notice you.”
In addition to having given him a good work ethic, Owen’s Coventry upbringing left him with a finely tuned antenna for bullshit. The city was all but razed by the Luftwaffe in 1940 and served as a graveyard for car factories in the seventies and eighties, when the British motor industry atrophied and Coventrians lived under the shadow of one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. National lore has it that Winston Churchill knew the city was going to be bombed to kingdom come, but to prevent the Nazis from finding out that the Brits had cracked their secret code, he didn’t issue Coventry a warning. You don’t grow up in a place like thator as one of five boys abandoned by their country-western-singer dadwithout acquiring a healthy mistrust for the Hollywood brand of gloss and polish. Owen’s been in meetings with patronizing studio bottom-feeders. Now he’s been courted by their bosses, too. Yet he married a woman who would rather hang around their North London home than go anywhere near a red carpet.
“I have to drag Sarah-Jane to a premiere,” Owen says. “Her ultimate present, which I bought her a few years ago, was a Volkswagen Caravan van. She’s into arts and crafts, and hanging with the kids, and going camping. She’s very unimpressed by what I do.”