Fan Encounters and Sightings

8/6/04 - Dear Murph:

There is something very important that visitors to your web site should know: Contrary to the reports you have been receiving, some of the CM crew is not very friendly or professional.

In fact, the individuals that are closest to Russel Crowe are outright hostile and very rude and I had the displeasure of this experiencing this first hand.

When fans of your work make the effort to come and see you, when fans such as ourselves ask for permission and show the greatest amount of respect and courtesy for you and your work, you do not tell them to "GET OUT THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY" in a public venue, full of people both crew and non-crew alike, who are entering and exiting as if it were they were at a friend's place after the shoot for the day had wrapped.

These are the words of one of Russel's closest assistants, and I think it is wrong. If you believe in fairness of opinion, I hope you will let vistors and fans of your web site know about this, so they don't have to go through the same experience. Clearly, fans who love the work of this team, who love movies like CM and A Beautiful Mind are not welcome.

Thank you for listening. - J.D.

From churchlady: Went by the set about 10pm. Stood on Yonge Street end of Richmond. The whole street was blocked off and we arrived in time to see the last of the period cars turn up. What an amazing collection of vehicles! It looked like the Dearborn MI museum.

First of all, they had all the lights on the "Gardens" lit up and on the shopfronts. It looked magical. The extras who were being cameramen with the old flashbulb cameras were having lessons on how they worked. And the traffic was stopped as a line of cars pulled in. One of the yellow cabs stalled in the intersection much to amusement of the onlookers. They gave it a push and it got going again in a cloud of smoke. They had two very old Toronto streetcars from the TTC dressed up like the 3rd avenue trolley cars (hooray Toronto for keeping those!). And they had variety of older Model-T type cars and open sided trucks. Some very flash looking newer cars with correct license plates. The street was packed like a busy traffic filled New York street. There were lots of extras, mostly men, dressed in various suits and hats to look richer or poorer. I only saw one woman, in a very nice red dress with her hair done up very nicely.

It seemed to take them ages to get organised. And during the wait one of the extras came over and asked if anyone had questions. So I grilled him on the movie. He was young, his first extra job, he was from Thunder Bay and was playing a bookie and had been working on the film for months. He had been at ML Gardens and was mostly standing behind Russell in his corner during the fight scenes. He said Russell was lovely to work with, very dedicated and professional. They would do lots of rehearsal and then shoot a scene. He said it was going slowly because Ron Howard was just as much a perfectionist as Russell and they were making it really accurate in terms of the fight scenes. They have done most of the big fight scenes but kept moving from place to place from week to week. He didn't understand why they kept doing that but he figures Ron knows what he wants. It is very hot and unpleasant inside the ML Gardens because "it smells of pee and the air circulation equipment is old and doesn't work". The building has been abandoned really for years so not surprising.

He said he was freaked by the blow up dummies they are using in the crowd scenes. He'd never been in front of a crowd like that and when he walked out the first time, he had stage fright and then realised they weren't real people watching him. They will tart that up in CGI but they do look real from a distance. And they were mostly in the back of the crowd so not sure how much they would be in the scenes.

He loved the attention of the crowd and was very funny. He told us a story of making Russell laugh by cracking a joke. His sister had told him to tell Russell "he could package his farts and sell them and make a fortune". He actually told the joke to Russell who laughed hard and picked up his seat and said "here's my stool, mate, make some money!". Ha ha. That seemed to impress him that he was so cool about it. The extra said Renee was a lovely person and really nice, very concentrated on her work but happy to chat and hang out when not working. They are all talking Oscar among the extras, since the more experienced say they haven't been in something this big and expensive with such detail before.

The crowd were very interested in the film, and my Mum who was with me, told everyone who came and asked all about the movie and when it was coming out. I think she pre-sold about 20 tickets last night. And I didn't have to say anything! Have I been going on about it that much that even she knows the detail???

Finally, they came and dragged him away, and they got started. There seemed to be a bit of rehearsal and then about 11pm there was the yell of "Rolling!" and the background got moving in front of the building. They milled around and then flashbulbs went off with the sound of cheering and clapping. It looked like it was after the fight when Braddock comes out. I think I caught a glimpse of Russell in a suit and hat, taller than the rest, but it was brief. They did that a few times with different angles and there were long gaps in between where the very tired extras sat on the sidewalk.

They had a machine with a hose that made it look like steam coming out of the grates from the sidewalk in that New York way. I couldn't see much because the awning for the "Gardens" was half way down the street. I watched until about midnight and then we went home.

The extra said that the day had been very long so far, he'd been going since 8am and it was really hot at the Royal York/Park Plaza set earlier since they are all dressed in warm winter clothes. He said they'd be working until the end of August and maybe even early September. They would be back at the ML Gardens later and would be shooting again at the fake Gardens again.

The crew had t-shirts with the Maple Leafs symbol on them and "Shooting at the Shrine Cinderella Man 2004" on the back. The guy in charge of keeping the people from taking pictures was cool at the beginning but you knew when Russell had arrived because he got all stroppy about it. Though he laughed when someone remarked that well, we all had photos already.

And the Knitting Story does not die!!! A woman in the crowd asked the extra if he knew if Russell knitted.....I said no, he doesn't. She said she'd read it in the paper and did the extra ever see him knit? He laughed and said no he didn't think he did. Will that story ever go away??? I got a good laugh out of it though. She seemed quite sure he did though.
She'd read it in the paper after all :)

Thanks, churchlady

Images for this account HERE [ed note: no Russell. Account edited with Helga's permission]

This was my third try to catch some TCM filming. I had been to the Distillery District and came up empty. Another day I went to the Maple Leaf Gardens location and was lucky in a way that Russ was there, but I didn't see him, only heard him talking in his trailer and some soft music playing. It was around lunch time and I guess Russ was having a break. But I was happy just to be close and hear him:-) [Helga adds this note: "I just want to clarify that anyone could have heard him within earshot - I was just walking by and happen to hear him. He does have a distinctive voice you know - and he wasn't exactly whispering. I don't eavesdrop on anyone.]

So I took the train to Toronto again on July 1 - Canada Day - a holiday. This time I was lucky to catch them filming! First I went to the old spot behind the MLG and was very disappointed - no trailer, no muscle truck - nothing. What a disappointment! The only thing there was a lady sitting on a chair, guarding that spot within the pilons. But she was very nice and we chatted for a while and she told me where they were filming today.

It was going to be on Front Street between the Royal York Hotel and Toronto Union Station. The whole street was blocked off from Bay to York and vintage 1930s cars lined both streets. Extras were standing around all over the place. Poor things, they were dressed in warm clothes and I'm wondering if most of the movie is playing during the winter months?

I explored the area thoroughly, but could not find any familiar looking trailers:-( When I got back to Front Street, I noticed Ron Howard giving instructions to about 20 people who were standing around him. I spotted him right away and it became a game during the day with various people standing with me to spot Ron:-) This was the only time he was out in the open so to speak, the rest of the time he was under a blue canopy, I guess that's where he checked the shot and decided whether it's a take or a reshoot would be necessary.

Rene was first. She was dressed in a long, light beige dress, rusty brown jacket, brown hat and shoes. All she had to do was walk from the middle of the street (there is an island with trees dividing Front Street) across the street and around the corner. While she was doing this, the extras had to move around and I found out it's called "background". When they're ready to shoot someone shouts "background" and everything and everyone has to move. I think they did that scene 4 or 5 times, much waiting in between. Rene is very thin, that dress was just hanging on her, but it's because the fashion in those days was not exactly the body-hugging kind:-)

Now there was still very heavy traffic at the end of the street (University St) where they were shooting. I really don't know why they didn't reroute traffic. People had to go to the train station on the other side of the street and were getting frustrated that they couldn't. They had to wait until a shot was finished. I'm sure this was planned for a long time and they were lucky to have nice weather. And because of the holiday, there was a lot less traffic but still enough to cause traffic jams all over.

When Rene's scene was finished, I thought that was it and went to a restaurant right there to eat something. I was starving and very thirsty. I sat on the patio where I could watch the street.

Just as was starting to eat my spinach salad (it was excellent), when a contraption comes around the corner. It was a black car pulled by a kind of flatbed truck with lots of people and equipment on it. I knew right away that this was going to be Russell's scene. I told the waiter I'd be right back and ran out to have a better look. The guy in the car was Russell's double.

Everybody watching thought it was Russ, but I knew better and told them:-) I went back and I was sorry I had to eat that wonderful salad so fast, but I wanted to get back out on the street!!! That contraption went away and came back again, still with the double in the car and they did that three times. It takes about 10 minutes to drive around the block.

Now when Rene was filming, the guards were pretty lenient. They told us very casually 'no flashlight', so we kept taking pictures....

He was sitting in the left corner in the back and looked very spiffy. Once, twice they went around the block. The second time I knew where they were coming from and moved to a better spot. I was right at the front of the barricade and Russ was looking at the crowd and sure enough, he looked in my direction. I smiled and gave a little wave and he nodded and smiled back. Maybe he recognized me from Chicago???

That made me a happy camper:-) Then he got out and talked to Ron, took his jacket off and lit a ciggy. He was wearing a white shirt, tie and a dark suit. He looked great!!!

They were touching up his make-up, combing his hair etc and finally he went back into the car. I noticed the right door was kept ajar by a blanket and an A/C duct was going into the car. It must have been sweltering in the black car, with klieglights positioned on both sides and who knows what else. At least that must have made it a little more comfortable.....

All in all that scene was repeated 4 or 5 times - with all the necessary commotions it entailed. Two police bikes in front, the traffic had to be stopped, extras had to be made to move around, the vintage cars had to move as well - my goodness! I spent 6 hours there and it will be interesting to see how many minutes or even seconds that will be in the movie.

It was a very happy day for me. I've never been to a movie shoot location and it was interesting to see how everything worked. The street was transformed into Park Avenue and 6th; all the cars had old license plates; the newsstand had old magazines; at one point two pilons were left on the street just as shooting began and two guys rushed out to remove them - panic! I met two ladies in the hotel who were taxi passenger extras, dressed in costume only from the waist up. One of the ladies husband's company supplied many of the vintage cars (I met him later too).

From about 4pm on, a guy with a Greek flag started running around, constantly blowing his whistle. He just stayed on the non-shooting side of the area, but he ran around for about 2 hours like that! We didn't need to check the news to know that Greece won the soccer game:-)


7/2/04 -- Hi Murph,

I'm a fan of the site, great to see all this Cinderella Man and related info on there. As you no doubt know, they are filming an exterior scene recreation of Madison Square in TO.

Murph, are you Torontonian? If not, I'm sure readers of your site would love to hear the reaction of the public who were on location.

There was great excitement among the crowd, as the vintage 1930's Yellow Cabs and vehicles rolled onto location. Lot's of people in the crowd commented that it was like travelling back into the 1930's, the set and location looked so authentic.

The crowd was so happy and excited, they had never seen anything like it.

When the massive crowd of extras started to appear, the audience went wild. It was very, very exciting, especially for those who haven't seen a Hollywood production.

I hope this is useful for the site, keep up the good work and keep us up to date on Cinderella Man!

John D.

More to come

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