When he is entrusted with the role of the enigmatic robber Dalton Russell for “Inside Man”, Clive Owen expresses reservations to Spike Lee. But the actor manages to embody the character in a masterly way, facing a disturbed Denzel Washington during their joint scenes.
Inside man : the perfect heist of Spike Lee
When producer Brian Grazer finds himself in possession of the script forInside Man: The Inside Man by Russell Gewirtz, he first thinks of Ron Howard to stage it. But after their collaboration on An exceptional man, Russell Crowe insists that the filmmaker realize From the shadow to the light. Brian Grazer therefore decides to entrust the project to Spike Lee, and the feature film becomes the biggest commercial success of the author of Do the Right Thing when it was released in 2006.
Inside man marks the reunion between the New Yorker and Denzel Washington, after Mo ‘Better Blues, Malcolm X and He got game. The actor plays here Inspector Keith Frazier, sent near a junkyard in Manhattan with his deputy Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to negotiate with the head of the robbers, Dalton Russell (Clive Owen). But contrary to what the latter suggests in the opening of the film, the theft and the taking of hostages that he commits go beyond “the obvious financial motivation”.
While he manages to make contact with this enigmatic criminal, Frazier learns that he must also deal with Madeleine White (Jodie Foster). Employed by billionaire Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer), owner of the bank, this private negotiator aims to protect and keep secret the contents of safe 392. Conditions which will put the chip in the ear of the police officer.
Willem Dafoe completes the cast of this heist that takes a political twist as the keys to the story unfold. Inside man manages to fool the viewer both on the true intentions of Dalton Russell and his team, but also on the organization and the course of their perfect heist.
What role for Denzel Washington?
When Spike Lee introduces the feature film to the Oscar-winning actor Glory and Training Day, he offers him the role of Keith Frazier as well as that of Dalton Russell. Faced with this difficult choice, Denzel Washington hesitates. But a reflection convinces him to don the inspector’s costume, which he camps with an irresistible relaxation, while building a tasty exchange game with his partners, starting with Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Asked by Large screen in 2006, the actor explains:
I hesitated for a long time between the role of the police officer and that of the bank robber before saying to myself: ‘Wait a second, if I play the robber, we will never see my face’. My agent also said to me: ‘No one will see you’. I really wanted to participate in this shoot, especially since Spike had assembled a very good cast. I had just played Julius Caesar in the theater, and the idea of participating in a choral film appealed to me very much.
The feat of Clive Owen
Clive Owen ultimately inherits the mysterious character of Dalton Russell. But like Denzel Washington, the actor has reservations, as Spike Lee laughs during an interview for Total Film. In the production notes of the feature film, the actor states in particular:
To play whole scenes where you are masked, where you are wearing glasses and a hood is very strange, because the game often goes through the intention, and the intention shows itself through the gaze. To have everything taken away all at once and to have this big barrier was disarming.
In spite of everything, the actor accepts the challenge and comes out of it masterfully, showing unfailing serenity and determination through his speech and his body language. After discussions with Spike Lee, the script is entitled to rewrites in order to make it appear more with your face uncovered.
And if he refused to play Dalton Russell, Denzel Washington remains disturbed by the outfit of the robber during the filming. According to Spike Lee, the star is having “some difficulty giving the answer” to Clive Owen, unable to read his expressions. An embarrassment which is felt in their common scenes and which serves wonderfully well Inside man, reinforcing the thief’s aura, the doubts surrounding his plan as well as the police’s lack of control.