Clive Owen Talks About Living in Humphrey Bogart’s Shadow While Playing Sam Spade
One of Humphrey Bogart‘s best and most famous roles was as private investigator, Sam Spade in the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon. Now, Clive Owen has taken over the role of Spade in the new AMC series Monsieur Spade, following the character in the 1960s as he investigates the murder of nuns in the South of France. Owen admitted that it was difficult to take over the role of one of his heroes but ultimately is so grateful he got the chance to play Spade.
He shared, “It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. 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.’” He added, “I’m supposed to go in and go, ‘I’m going to do my interpretation.’ But because we were shooting in France with a lot of French actors, I needed a grounding. And although we’re playing a later Sam Spade, he has to come … from that ’40s private detective. So, I kinda drowned in Bogart. I went and watched everything again.”
Owen said that he listened to all of Bogart’s lines in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca to get into the same rhythm of speaking. However, Owen wanted to make sure he wasn’t just doing an impression of Bogart. He explained that he had a conversation with the scriptwriter, “And I said to him, ‘Don’t freak out. But I’m listening a lot to Bogart, and I want to base my voice on him. I’m not going to do a bad impersonation of Bogart. It’s just the rhythm, the intonation.’ And he said, ‘That’s so weird because as I’ve been writing this, I have to hear Bogart say the dialogue.’” Reviews say that the witty dialogue is the best part of the new show, proving Owen and the creators did their homework.
While the creators said that Owen was truly their only choice for the role, it is interesting to learn that Bogart was not the first choice for the original film. Actor George Raft was offered the role first but he turned it down. Reportedly, he was nervous about working with first-time director John Huston and didn’t want to appear in remakes. The 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon was actually a remake of a ’30s film.
Watch Monsieur Spade on AMC+ and Bogart’s version of The Maltese Falcon on Roku, Amazon Prime Video, or wherever you rent movies. Want more? Our sister site TV Insider interviewed Owen about the role, check it out here!