The Confirmation - Clive Owen and Jaeden Lieberher
The Confirmation - Walt (Clive Owen) and Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) ©2016 Saban Film

Academy Award nominee Clive Owen is known for his dramatic performances in movies like Croupier, Closer, Elizabeth and on TV in Hemmingway and Gelhorn and currently on Cinemax’s The Knick.

He now stars in a quirky comedy called The Confirmation which is written and directed by Bob Nelson, whose screenplay for Nebraska was nominated for an Academy Award.

As in Nebraska, The Confirmation also tells the story of a father and son.

Walt (Owen) is a out-of-work carpenter who is to look after his 8-year-old son Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) for the weekend while his ex-wife and husband go on a retreat. When Walt’s toolbox is stolen from his truck, what was to be a quiet father-and-son get together turns into quite an adventure as they search for and chase down the thieves.

I spoke with Clive Owen at the press day for the movie, which opens this Friday, March 18th 2016.

The Confirmation - Clive Owen, Jaeden Lieberher, Matthew Modine and Maria Bello
The Confirmation – Walt (Clive Owen), Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher), Kyle (Matthew Modine) and Bonnie (Maria Bello) ©2016 Saban Film

Had you seen Bob Nelson’s movie Nebraska? This is similar to it, except the father and son are 30 years younger.

Clive: I had seen Nebraska and I really loved it. I knew Bob had written that and it was a beautifully written script.

Both films are very personal to Bob, actually. They are about his life and his relationship with his father and I thought it was beautiful, poignant, sad, funny and never veered into being sentimental. It had great restraint and was believable.

The one thing I really loved was there was great humanity and respect for all the characters in it.

They weren’t being judged or condescended to, there was a warmth to it and what you could call a feel good movie, but in a very real way, not in a fake, sentimental way.

The Confirmation - Maria Bello and Clive Owen
The Confirmation – Bonnie (Maria Bello) and Walt (Clive Owen) ©2016 Saban Film

Walt is so American, had you met someone like him that you based it on?

Clive: No, I spend an awful lot of time in America and I know a lot of Americans. I’ve shot in America a lot, so I feel I’ve had a lot of experience. But I was incredibly supported by the material which was very clear to me.

I read it and I had a very clear idea what the film was and who the guy was and what his dilemma was.

The Confirmation - Robert Forster and Clive Owen
The Confirmation – Otto (Robert Forster) and Walt (Clive Owen) ©2016 Saban Film

What attracted you to this character?

Clive: I’m always attracted to characters that are in some kind of conflict or dealing with something, because it’s more interesting to play, there’s always more than one thing going on.

And, at the end of the day, it’s a human thing to play flawed, because we all are flawed, there is no such thing as a perfect human being and your job as an actor is to try to get people to understand why they are like they are and to relate.

On the surface you might think, ‘This guy’s a bit of a liability,’ he has this drink problem, he’s irresponsible, but actually, through the journey of the film, you see that he’s trying to be a better person and trying to be a better dad.

The beauty of this script is that none of the characters are judged. They are all struggling with their issues, but we are not looking down on them, we’re not condescending them, we can see that they are just trying to get to the end of each week and I really related to that.

The Confirmation - Jaeden Lieberher
The Confirmation – Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) ©2016 Saban Film

You and Jaeden had great chemistry on screen, how did you achieve that?

Clive: We actually didn’t get on at all. We had a few rows early on and Jaeden was such a diva. I’d often be on the set waiting for him to come out of his trailer, and he’d come out and be demanding candy!

So we made a deal we wouldn’t speak outside of the filming and we just did a very good acting job! (he roars with laughter)

The Confirmation Soundbytes

The Confirmation - Clive Owen, Director Bob Nelson and Jaeden Lieberher
The Confirmation – Clive Owen, Director Bob Nelson and Jaeden Lieberher on set ©2016 Saban Film, photo by Dean Buscher
  • I asked Jaeden Lieberher his side of the story – click below to listen to what he said and Clive’s reaction.
  • A big fan of David Bowie’s, Clive spoke about how he felt when he heard the pop legend had passed on
  • I asked director Bob Nelson if Walt and Anthony were based on the same characters in Nebraska (pictured on the soundbyte), but 30 years younger?
  • As Jaeden was playing him in the movie, I asked Bob if the young actor ever asked him for any tips?

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.