Season 2: Q&A with Clive Owen

The Knick

Season 2: Q&A with Clive Owen

CINEMAX: How is Thackery different at the beginning of Season 2 then he was at the beginning of Season 1?

Clive Owen: We leave him at the end of Season 1 in a pretty sorry state. We start Season 2 lower than we've ever seen him. He's struggling from the very beginning. Part of the journey of Season 2 is him trying to get back on track. He's struggling with his addiction. In Season 1 he was a high-functioning addict who has been performing brilliant operations with a vast amount of drugs. Now he's going to try and attempt to do it without and we'll see how he fares.

CINEMAX: Talk about Thackery's relationship with Gallinger and Algernon in Season 2 and how they have evolved from the first season.

Clive Owen: Gallinger digs him out of rehab where he's in a sorry state. He would probably be happy just to stay there. But Gallinger gets him out and tries to straighten him out and get him back to the hospital. He gets back and sees that Algernon has kind of been trying to take over his position. The one thing about Thackery is that even when he's incredibly fragile and lost he still has a huge ego. He considers himself to be the best. He also appreciates that Algernon is probably the most talented doctor except for him around the place and will probably be leaning on him and asking him for help as well.

CINEMAX: Do you think Thackery really wants to cure his own addiction?

Clive Owen: It was the beginning of people starting to think about what addiction was and whether people were predisposed to it. What makes some people more susceptible to addiction than others? It's something that fascinates him and that he wants to look into. He has a huge personal interest in it as well.

CINEMAX: How do you get into character to play Thackery? What type of research have you done?

Clive Owen: I did an awful lot of research for Season 1 because the guys told me it was all based on William Halstead and there's a brilliant book called "Genius on the Edge" that was the inspiration for Thackery. This brilliant doctor who was at the forefront of medicine, who was considered to be one of the best doctors around, but was consuming vast amounts of drugs.

CINEMAX: How does Bertie's resignation affect Thackery?

Clive Owen: He's always had a huge soft spot for Bertie, but he's given him a rough ride because he's a wild man.

CINEMAX: Thackery defends Lucy's honor to Bertie. Does he regret their relationship?

Clive Owen: The best part about playing that character is he's such a high-wire act. He comes back to the hospital and he's not particularly nice to Lucy. There's something that he's realized in his time away that was inappropriate and wrong about their relationship. He still thinks a lot of her and he's empathetic, but he's a crazy character full of complexities.

CINEMAX: Why do you think Thackery relapses? Does he have the capacity to ever fully get better?

Clive Owen: It was important to me that we treated the drug addiction appropriately and it would have been a disservice to go out on a boat for a week and come back a changed man. Because anybody who knows anything about addiction knows it's a very long, difficult struggle. Addicts live day by day with the pressure of falling again all the time. I think that was really important for Thackery, that that was the journey of Season 2. We didn't make it look easy to stop taking drugs because it's not. It's much more fun to play a character in torment, conflict, -- somebody struggle with that kind of issue. Thackery is addicted to the front line of medicine and pushing its boundaries.

CINEMAX: What is his main motivation in his life and work?

Clive Owen: It's the forwarding of medicine, the possibility of being able to discover something that makes a radical difference in people's lives. He's at the forefront of a hugely exciting time in the world of medicine. He's bold and brave enough to push the boundaries and go for things that don't always work. He doesn't have a 100% success rate, but he's done some extraordinary things that people will benefit from for years to come and that's what drives him. He has a huge ego and he likes to plays God.

CINEMAX: What has been the most challenging scene for you to film?

Clive Owen: The operations are challenging technically. [Director] Steven [Soderbergh] has a very bold way of shooting them and not with lots and lots of shots. So you have to be on your game as a character, knowing your lines, knowing what you want to do, knowing how you want to play the scene. You have to get up on top of the actual physicality of the operation: what it is you're doing, make it look convincing. There's an audience watching the operation, so now there's Thackery performing to a crowd while he's doing it.

CINEMAX: Do you think Thackery would be a successful surgeon if he were practicing today?

Clive Owen: Of course. He's flawed, but he's brilliant at what he does.

CINEMAX: If Thackery wasn't a surgeon, what profession would he have?

Clive Owen: If Thackery wasn't a surgeon, he'd probably be a drug addict and nothing more.


1. What costume would you like to take home?

Clive Owen: Green velvet jacket.

2. What other NYC time period would you like to live in?

Clive Owen: I'm very happy now.

3. What are you addicted to?

Clive Owen: Football.

4. What would be the hardest challenge for you personally if you had to live in the time of The Knick?

Clive Owen: Staying alive.