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Brokaw: Clive Owen talks about ‘Monsieur Spade’ and Humphrey Bogart

By Francine Brokaw - Special to the Daily Herald | Apr 10, 2024

Courtesy image

Clive Owen stars as Sam Spade in the new AMC/AMC+/Acorn TV series “Monsieur Spade.”

Humphrey Bogart is forever linked to the Dashiell Hammett character Sam Spade in the 1941 classic film “The Maltese Falcon.” Clive Owen takes up the mantle as Spade in the new AMC/AMC+/Acorn TV series “Monsieur Spade.” This series is set in 1963, 20 years after the case of the Maltese Falcon. The series was filmed in France, which was a fun experience for the actor who spoke recently to the media about his stepping into the shoes of the iconic character.

The show has Spade coming out of retirement smack dab into the middle of a murder investigation.

“I never choose any work based on the location, but it was very exciting and a big thrill when I realized we were going to be shooting in the south of France,” Owen said, adding, “… even though we’re setting this in the early ’60s, I wanted to feel the origins of the guy that’s in ‘The Maltese Falcon.’ So, to be honest with you, I kind of leant into Bogart quite heavily because I needed to ground myself in that kind of vibe and feel because I was surrounded by French actors not doing that American thing.”

It is evident Owen is excited about this project because it takes the gumshoe detective ahead 20 years and sets him in a foreign environment. “And just by making that leap and setting him somewhere else, but still maintaining the flavor of the original Dashiell Hammett stuff and those films of that time, it reinvigorates it naturally. You don’t have to try to (say), ‘How do we make this fresh and relevant?’ It already is, because it’s a totally new spin on the genre.”

According to Owen, “There were many times during the shoot of this show where I literally said to myself as an actor, ‘This is exactly where I want to be.’ I love the genre. I have great dialogue to speak, and I did it with great actors.”

Stepping into a role that is so iconic to Bogart was a bit daunting, but Owen was keen to do so. “The decision to lean in (to Bogart’s persona) is partly because I’m a huge fan of his. So it gave me an excuse to drown in everything Bogart again. And it’s odd because Bogart played the character and, really, we’re playing the character that Dashiell Hammett wrote. But because he was a fish out of water, and because I was surrounded by French actors, I needed a grounding.” That alone was enough to immerse the actor in the ways of Bogart.

Preparing to embody a character made famous by one of Hollywood’s legendary actors required a lot of study. “I actually lifted all of Bogart’s dialogue — just his dialogue, nobody else’s — from ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘Casablanca,’ put them on a voice note. And that was my go-to at the beginning of every day, just to remind myself of the origins of that guy that was playing. And the one thing that came clear very quickly is that you think Bogart is very laconic and very cool. He’s actually super quick with his dialogue. Very, very nimble.”

“Monsieur Spade” might have viewers searching for the old Bogart films to stream, just as a fun adjunct to this series.

The show is a dark drama befitting the character. Sam Spade is just as iconic as Humphrey Bogart, and now has a new life with Clive Owen, who was an executive producer as well as the star of this six-episode series on AMC and AMC+ as well as Acorn TV.


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