Revista de Cinema, December 2006/January 2007

 

Translated by Ivani:

 

Russell Crowe


The actor talks about the edge of his career, the movie “Ridley Scott’s A Good Year”, which it’s being released this month, and about the relationship with the director, with whom he has already done “Gladiator”.

 

By Celso Sabadim

 

New Zealander Russell Crowe waited a little to “take place”, but today he is one of the big stars of American cinema. Before to call the attention in the skin of hot head policeman Bud White, in the marvelous “Los Angeles Confidential”, he spent 10 years alternating small roles in the cinema and participation of small expression in Australian TV series. Crowe really dawned to stardom portraying Maximus, in the blockbuster “Gladiator”, directed by Ridley Scott, portraying that gave him the Oscar of Best Actor. Since then, he didn’t stop anymore. He was also nominated for his performance as the whistleblower of tobacco industry Jeffrey Wigand, in “The Insider”, and for his role as the mathematician John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind”, under Ron Howard’s direction. With him, he got even a Bafta and a Golden Globe.

 

Among his credits are even a cybernetic killer in “Virtuosity”, a negotiator in a kidnapping in “Proof of Life”, and the boxer Jim Braddock in “Cinderella Man”.

 

Now, six years after “Gladiator”, and again under Ridley Scott’s direction, Russell Crowe comes back to portray another Max. Max Skinner, a powerful and rich broker who lost the sense of the real values of life in the movie “A Good Year”. The partnership worked out so well, that following “A Good Year”, Scott and Crowe passed almost than immediately to work in a third project, “American Gangster”, that is right now in shooting. It’s about his relationship in particular with the director and about the actor’s work in the cinema when it reaches the stardom, that Russell Crowe talks in this exclusive interview.

 

Revista de Cinema – How has begun your partnership with Ridley Scott?

Crowe – Well, naturally we had our “blood baptism” doing “Gladiator”, and this happened into a clima and into an energy that difficultly will happen again. You know how it is, the forests in England, the Sahara, the re creation of Rome in Malta, and so it goes hereabouts. Our friendship was forged in the trenches. We get acquainted in those circumstances and have arrived now in this movie with the same energy. We, as the characters, went to the castle and entered in the rhythm of Luberon´s life (France’s countryside, where it was shot “A Good Year”) allowing ourselves simply star at that place and so making good use much more.

 

Revista do Cinema – After the Gladiator’s success, A Good Year é clearly a project completely different, conducted by the same director. What motivated you to accept the idea?

Crowe – There was too much expectation after a movie like “Gladiator” and, naturally, everybody expected we made something with lots of blood, lots of action, this sort of stuff. But for Ridley and me this neutralizes all these expectations: And so people get acquainted that, from a perspective of who makes movies, we didn’t do this before and we don’t start doing it now, we aren’t going to do things to the other people. We are going to do what we want. This makes us to surpass the timidity of facing our previous success, so, now we can do anything we want, and it is exactly what we are doing now.

 

Revista do Cinema – “A Good Year” relieves the pressure that could exist over “American Gangster”?

Crowe – Yes, because if we hadn’t done “A Good Year’, we would be partners less than efficient in the new movie. And we have already that old deal (laughs), it seems that we never do a movie that it’s totally ready for being shot. But Riley’s line of progression is: we began to shot “Gladiator” with 21 pages; with 48 pages we began “A Good Year”, and it was 64, 65 pages with “American Gangster”. He only looks at me and says, “We are improving”. We have two others movies to do and then we are going to start a third one from zero.

 

Revista do Cinema – Which is the process of you two?

Crowe – We work in the script together until we have something ready to be shot. If this means working in the script during the shootings, it’s what we do. It’s this way we work (laughs).

 

Revista do Cinema – How do you describe “A Good Year”?

Crowe – I think one of the problems is trying to sell a movie as a romantic comedy, what it is not. It’s about of something deeper than that. Even being an entertainment relatively frivolous, it’s still a journey of self-discovery or re-discovery. And the movie is profound, it talks about reincarnation in a certain way. “Gladiator” talked about death, because Maximus´s desire was of joining with his wife and his son in the after life. When we began the movie, Ridley said, “Maximus has to dye in the end and the studios are not going to like it, they will want to kill us to do a sequel, but it’s need he dies, for what we are doing has sense. The movie is about death.” When we talked for the first time about “A Good Year”, I liked that synopsis of 10, 12 minutes he gave me and I said, “It’s about reincarnation”. You could say there are many parts of Max Skinner that are dead and that he lost himself in the middle of the path. He needs to rediscover the childhood and the love for important things of life and, in a certain way, he is reincarnated. It’s also about of how we love someone, in what way he loved his uncle Henry, of people you maintain alive in your heart, even after they left.

If “A Good Year” had cost US$D 60 million, it would be another movie. If cost US$D 100 million, it would be even another one. But we spent 30 Dollars above the previewed costs and worked out extremely well. To tell the truth Ridley spent less than one million and a half of what was being authorized and shot in less days than what he thought it would be necessary. I think our attitude regarding to the movie was being altogether in a creative environment and having fun. We accepted the challenge in which few believe and, frankly speaking, in my opinion, for most humiliating it can be, we conquered/vanquished the people in their ground, by the half the cost and in a more efficient way. We shot in France with a predominantly French team and, so, we had to adapt ourselves to their rhythm. So, we met a certain point of commitment in what the barrier of the language didn’t exist: the skill in a movie set. Dude, the team was fantastic. The people were really talented, with who was a pleasure to work with.

 

Revista de Cinema – Was it fun?

Crowe – It was great and we had fun a lot. In terms of geography, the place is wonderful. To live in a rural area so well cultivated brings a big reward because we can see how everything changes and develops at each season. We arrived there in the middle of the summer, circled by vineyards and green trees; two months later, everything became red, orange and yellow.

“A Good Year” has its own rhythm as an experience of shooting/movie making. And it was, certainly, very different from “Gladiator”.

 

Revista de Cinema – Your character in the movie receives good advices that change its trajectory. And you, did you receive good professional advices when younger? From who?

Crowe – I was lucky of having good relationships in movie set with Bryan Brown (“Blood Oath”), Tony Hopkins (“Spotswood”) and with Denzel Washington (“Virtuosity”). All the time we can do friends. It’s not truth that it’s difficult making friends among actors. It’s very easy to enter in a room of actors and talk. We are gregarious in a certain region of comfort. We talk, we communicate, we share experiences. I man, the attitude is “we are in the same boat”. If you grew up already doing this, you have this attitude and, if later in your life it happens different, you could not understand. But when you did theater in the community, worked in a musical and little by little built your reputation that sent you to important roles, you have this sort of attitude. I have already seen all this sides of the cinema. From a child as an extra at my 6 years old to an Oscar winner.

Take as an example my character, Max. He lost all the wonderful things his uncle Henry, a very intelligent man, taught him. These things are inside him, inside of his being. The uncle taught him something about competition and it was this lesson he put ahead of all of them, forgetting the second part of the class: competing in funny, agreeable, but it’s not about the process of conquer. We must experiment the two sides of the game to really appreciate what is conquer.

 

Revista de Cinema – “A Good Year” has references to other movies of yours, as in the scene in which Max takes some land/soil from the vineyard, discovering it is covered with chicken faeces, what, naturally, send us to Maximus, the Gladiator, who rubbed soil in the hands always when he prepared himself for a battle.

Crowe – Yes, there are some small references to those who want to look for them. I like it (laughs).

 

Revista de Cinema – Which is the criteria in a choice of a movie today?

Crowe – Each movie is a different thing. I never apply the same rules. In general, I do what it stirs with me and obviously if you make a movie like “Cinderella Man” doesn’t mean that a movie about boxing now is going to attract me because I did that one.. So, it varies. Next, I am doing the western “03:10 to Yuma” and I am anxious for riding everyday. I don’t have many opportunities of riding as I’d like to and good part of my interest by the movie is that I am going to ride everyday. People say, “He is doing “A Good Year” because of the negative incidents”, and stuff like that, what is garbage. The meetings happened very sooner, the project was in course when it happened the problem with the telephone. I have already read around 12 articles that linked my decision in doing the movie with the incident, but we had already everything dealt, the schedule settled even before Cinderella Man’s release. 

 

Ivani