LOS ANGELES-Timing may be everything in Hollywood, but when Clive Owen agreed to his latest film role a few years ago even he had no idea how closely the fictional thriller would play like present day news.
In a case of art imitating life, 'The International' is set in the murky world of global banking and was inspired by the early 1990s collapse of the scandal-plagued Bank of Credit and Commerce International 'BCCI'.
The film had its world premiere on Thursday at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it was shown outside competition.
Owen, who was in Berlin for the premiere, told AFP in an interview that it could well resonate with audiences reeling from the global financial meltdown that has exposed mismanagement in the upper echelons of Wall Street.
'Its become unbelievably relevant,' the English actor said. In the sophisticated thriller, Owen stars with Naomi Watts as law enforcement officials investigating a corrupt bank with sinister lending practices.
'The whole film is about this huge, faceless multi-billion-dollar bank who I believe to be corrupt and try to convince people, and try to bring them down'.
'The big questions in the movie are do banks use our money appropriately?' Owen said. 'Can you trust them? Are they corrupt? Now the questions have been hugely to the fore in the last six months with whats been going on.
In 'The International,' Owen plays Louis Salinger, an Interpol agent whose rabid conviction to expose the banks mendacity threatens to derail his career.
The film, directed by Germanys Tom Tykwer 'Run Lola Run', and written by Eric Warren Singer, is loosely based on the BCCI scandal.
The banks collapse was one of the biggest corporate scandals of the 1990s when it was revealed the bank laundered money for terrorists, trafficked arms and abetted nuclear proliferation.
Watts, who chases the bankers across Europe and New York with Owen, said she took the role after initially demurring following the birth of her first child because of her co-star as well as the subject matter.
'Clive is just brilliant,' she said. But what I really love about this film is that it feels very current and reflective of our times.' Owen meanwhile said he was attracted to the films script as it harked back to thrillers from the 1970s.
'With all the research that this script was based on, what I liked was that it was like the 70s paranoid political thrillers that were based on fact and were sort of very intelligent and well written, but were thrillers,' he said.
In fact, next month hell be taking on institutions of moral complexity yet again in the drama 'Duplicity' by the director of 'Michael Clayton,' Tony Gilroy, and starring opposite Julia Roberts again.
'I got on so well with her during Closer and I was so excited by this script and there was nobody better for it than Julia,' Owen said.
And Owen, who became known to Americans through smaller independent films, has emerged as a player in a pack of Brits currently beguiling Hollywood as Oscar season approaches, including actress Kate Winslet and 'Slumdog Millionaire' director Danny Boyle.
Owens CV reflects his willingness to take on varied roles that are rarely one dimensional - AFP