Monday, 30 November -0001

'My biggest fear? Being the father of two girls'

The Mayans may have predicted that the world would end in 2012 but, when The Lady visited Mexico’s glittering new film festival, she found Clive Owen more concerned about being a good parent than imminent annihilation

Written by Gill Pringle

One of the fastest-growing tourist destinations on earth, Mexico is not about to let a little thing like the end of the world interfere with its rapid expansion. Indeed, there’s nothing more irksome to the Mexican Tourism Board than the constant reminder that 2012 is the year their Mayan ancestors predicted that our planet would meet its doom.

While the superstitious among us prepare for the apocalypse on 21 December 2012 – as loosely suggested by the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – Mexico further thumbs its nose at the predictions by choosing this year to inaugurate its ‚ rst annual Riviera Maya Film Festival.

‘Of course, we wouldn’t have launched our ‚ rst RMFF if we seriously believed the world was going to end,’ says RMFF director Paula Chaurand.

Launched with a series of glamour-soaked outdoor movie screenings, the festival was a showcase for all the beauty of the Riviera Maya region. Where ocean and jungle meet, the 125-mile stretch of coastline borders the Caribbean Sea from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, in the heart of a Unesco World Heritage site. If St Tropez or Monte Carlo were once the last word in glamour, then Riviera Maya has stealthily overtaken those cities. Topshop boss Sir Philip Green celebrated his 60th birthday here in March, for instance, with a £6m four-day party at the Rosewood Mayakoba resort, with Kate Moss, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Johnny Depp among his guests.

The ‚five-day ‚ lm festival, while attended by countless home-grown celebrities, also attracted international movie stars, from Ethan Hawke and Susan Sarandon to Britain’s own Clive Owen.

It’s been a busy year for Owen – he introduced his thriller Intruders at the RMFF and attended Cannes, where his romantic drama Hemingway & Gellhorn was screened out of competition.

When The Lady caught up with Owen (also staying at Rosewood Mayakoba) he had not yet visited any of the famed local beauty spots. Together with year-round sunshine, cave-diving and snorkelling, probably the region’s greatest draw is the archaelogical remains from di› erent periods of the Mayan culture, including temples and ceremonial centres, as well as the temple pyramids at Tulum and Coba.

Owen explained, somewhat sheepishly: ‘I’ve been out and eaten some great Mexican food in the town here, but mainly I’ve hung out at the hotel. It’s incredibly beautiful. I’ve been very relaxed here, I have to say. I could stay here for a long time.’

Wearing a linen shirt and trousers, a relaxed Owen reflected on his visit.

‘I’m actually, genuinely, a big fan of ‚film festivals. It’s a big celebration of what it is that we do, a great coming together of cultures and of people. I’m always keen and excited to go to them and it’s lovely coming to this one, which is the ‚ rst one to be held here.’

After his horror ‚film Intruders was screened at Cozumel’s Chankanaab waterfront resort and dolphin preserve, Owen admitted that it wasn’t the ‚film’s ghosts and demons that scared him. ‘I think being the father of two girls is my biggest fear; the concern about the wellbeing and welfare of my children.

‘Really, it is the biggest fear for any parent. There is no doubt that in the last few years, it’s no accident that I’ve done a number of ‚films where parenting has been a big issue.

‘I did The Boys Are Back, Trust and Intruders. Parenting a child is a big thing in all those ‚ lms. It’s something that I obviously know something about and is also interesting to explore in ‚ lm.’

In his recent movie, Hemingway & Gellhorn, he plays writer Ernest Hemingway to Nicole Kidman’s Second World War correspondent Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s inspiration for For Whom The Bell Tolls and the only one among his four wives who ever asked him for a divorce.

Visiting Cuba during the course of his research, Owen recalls:

‘I had the most amazing week. Hemingway’s house there is pretty incredible and I was allowed to go in and look through the stu› . An incredible thing about that place is that all of his stu› is still there; his books, his record collection, even his clothes are in the closet, and his boots.’

And as for the Mexican doomsday phenomenon? While the celebrities are living the high life, the media has certainly capitalised on it.

Dan Brown’s 2009 bestseller The Lost Symbol pinpointed 2012 as a date for an apocalypse, while Incubus, Jay Sean and Britney Spears have all released apocalypse-themed songs. Mel Gibson’s ‚film Apocalypto, made in 2006, snagged three Oscar nominations, while 2009’s box-office hit, 2012, was further inspired by the predictions, raking in nearly $770m in the process.

Ana Mari Irabien, public relations director for the Riviera Maya region, says: ‘We interpret 21 December 2012 as being the ending of one chapter and the beginning of a new cycle, a period of regeneration, rather than the end of anything.’

Fascination with the imminent demise of our planet isn’t just reserved for the Mayans – Keira Knightley is currently starring in Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, about a giant asteroid headed for earth.

But when I ask Clive Owen for his take on the 2012 Mayan prophecy, he smiles…

‘I don’t know too much about it, to tell you the truth. I’m sure we’ll make it to 2013. I have great con‚fidence in that.’

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