Studio's interview ( France) - No 215, Sept. 2005
Russell Crowe by Ron Howard
“I first met Russell Crowe, right after L.
A. Confidential. He had already made some feature
films in Australia, but Curtis Hanson's movie allowed him to become "bankable" [in
English in the text ]. Wiser with that experience, he had
made appointments with directors and producers, myself included.
Afterwards, we had not met each other since I watched The
insider. I can say it now : I didn't recognize him
in that movie. Only I discovered his name in the final credits.
I was so impressed I immediately asked for meeting him for ABM.
And then, in the middle of the conversation, I realized he had
already made more research for John Nash's character than I had
done. I was still immersed in Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch
Stole Christmas’s post-production and I had
planned to study ABM ‘s case only
later. He was very polite at the moment, but when he leaved, he
told his agent about his frustration of knowing more than me on
the subject (laughs). When I was told about, I called back his
agent to cheer Russell about the work I'd be doing, on myself.
Since then, we talked on a regular basis on the phone. He was able
to realize that I was building little by little my John Nash's
own vision and I noticed that he was important for him. Russell
is often portrayed as a lone wolf, but I understood very quickly
he needs a director to be confronted with.”
While shooting he delivers an incredible amount of propositions. Mind out, he never declines to do what a director may propose him, but he asks quite always an additional shot to show his scene's own perception and that provides me the largest range of choices at the editing room. It's fascinating to watch his own control on his acting. He acts like a master with his instrument. And, more, a startling charisma. When he is in a room, every person there seems to be in tune with his mood, quick-tempered or cheerful.”
Third round : the reunion
“When ABM 's filming ended, I actually hoped we'd have the opportunity to work again together. However, I didn't delude myself; there are so many actors I never have the luck to meet again after an accomplished experience, for lack of a suitable project. Then, one day, he brought me Cinderella man's idea.
It was the first time an actor was proposing me to direct a movie he had initiated, and I was amazed by the instant freedom he allowed me. Merely, he was telling me this project would become mine. He felt like acting in, but not to produce or direct it. He wanted us to work together the same way we did on ABM . He didn't expect I should be a plain executor only; he wanted my own sight about the character and the story.
He put a lot of himself during the movie's making up. With Renee (Zellweger), he spent a whole afternoon with me on the children's final casting. They improvised a lot together. Russell played football with the young boys, Renee was taking care of the young girls.
It was such a big deal; I was watching Braddock's family arise.
Once again, like in John Nash's case, it was stunning to see him morphing little by little into a character. He would not miss any detail. So, he asked for ears 's prosthesis. Because Braddock's were like mine, sticking out. However I tried to deter him from (laughs), telling him:"You know, I live with that kind of ears every day, are you sure to want to get the same?". But, once he put the false ears and the suit on, he was Braddock. Before the shooting began, I wondered since he was the film's cause, it was going to change our way of working on set. Nothing like that happened. His character being less "on the edge" than John Nash's, I probably gave him fewer indications. That's all. On the other hand, his shoulder's injury has changed things. He suffered a great deal. He had to be followed by a physio, while pursuing the physical training and the fight’s choreography, as well as working constantly on his acting. For him, shooting was similar to an obstacle race, because a new shoulder's injury should have meant irreparable physical outcomes. Fortunately, the whole thing worked out well.”
Fourth round : the future
“Russell watched the movie in Australia. He just called and told me : " I think it's your most beautiful movie" . His trust amazed and honored me. He refused to take part in post-production. For, while he is constantly feeding me, before and during the shooting, with ideas about the character or the way of filming one thing or another, he submits himself to the picked options and supports his director against all the odds.
Now, Russell is an international star. Hollywood seized him because he lined up hits, however he never settled in L.A. He comes here only for working. He has understood Hollywood's rules but stays outside the system. It's the reason why people love him so much. His success didn't confine him into one single part,
on the contrary! A lot of actors are as popular as he is and act just fine like he does, without any possibility left to them to become what I call, "comedians" [Note: RH means "universal actors" I guess) . But, since the beginning, he just has defined himself as a "comedian" in the audience's eyes. Nobody knows who is the real Russell Crowe, beyond his movies. We only know how incredible performances he is able to give and we have just the desire to see him whenever he goes towards new horizons. He should disappoint if he was acting twice the same part. When it comes to me, I hope that, for us, the expression "never two times without a third one", will be proved true and more beyond that number.”
-- by Thierry Cheze
Photo, James Jasper
Translation by Irina ( France), 27/10/2005