Old School Americana & Nostalgia

Movies

Clive Owen Talks Playing Sam Spade, Tips His Fedora to Humphrey Bogart

Clive Owen Talks Playing Sam Spade, Tips His Fedora to Humphrey Bogart

Clive Owen, a die-hard Humphrey Bogart fan, seized the opportunity to step into the fedora of Sam Spade, one of Bogie’s iconic characters. Of course, Bogart played the private dick in the hallmark Noir classic, 1941’s Maltese Falcon.

Meanwhile, Owen takes over the role in the new AMC series, Monsieur Spade. However, the show depicts a more seasoned version of character, years down the road. The show follows finds Sam Spade in the 1960s. He’s in the South of France, investigating the murder of a group of nuns.

“It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done,” Owen recently told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m a crazy Bogart fan. I have an original poster from The Maltese Falcon. When Scott [Frank, the series co-creator] called me, I sent him a picture of my poster and said, ‘You’ve come to the right guy.’”

Clive Owen is No Stranger to Roles Like Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade

Of course, Clive Owen isn’t just a Humphrey Bogart and Sam Spade disciple. The actor cut his teeth in groundbreaking Neo-Noir films like 1998’s Croupier and 2005’s Sin City. The Inside Man star is at home in shadows and twisting plots. The fact that he’s a huge Bogie lover is just the olive in the dirty martini.

Owen confessed that his take on Spade is hugely influenced by Humphrey Bogart’s Noir work. His research for the role involved watching countless hours of Bogie’s films. “Although we’re playing a later Sam Spade, he has to come … from that ’40s private detective,” Owen explained. “So, I kinda drowned in Bogart. I went and watched everything again.”

Clive Owen’s big takeaway from his Bogart research was the rhythm of the dialogue. “The thing about Humphrey Bogart and that style of acting is they didn’t overindulge,” Owen said. “They didn’t over-explain. It was all about trusting the rhythm of the piece, letting the words do the work.”

Although the creators of Monsieur Spade insisted that Owen was their only choice for the role, it is intriguing to discover that Bogart wasn’t the initial choice for the original film. The role was offered to actor George Raft first, but he declined. Allegedly, Raft was apprehensive about working with first-time director John Huston and had reservations about appearing in remakes. Interestingly, the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon was, in fact, a remake. The first adaptation dropped back in 1931, starring Ricardo Cortez as Spade.

Monsieur Spade is streaming on AMC+. Meanwhile, Bogart’s The Maltese Falcon is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.