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Is Russell Crowe stripping down celebrity journalism? Or just dressing down reporters?

November 12, 2010 |  9:24 pm

Of all the actors a journalist can find himself interviewing, Russell Crowe is probably the most challenging. Or entertaining. Or both.

Many actors like talking about their work and not their personal lives. Crowe offers this about movie junkets when the subject of film publicity comes up: "If I ever was going to torture somebody, I'd put them in a room where they can't leave and have someone new come in every three minutes and ask the same question over a number of days and then weeks."

And even those stars who don't like talking about acting still love talking about their pet causes, don't they?

"Some people believe celebrity is a power that should be used. Ultimately, your dollars are more powerful," Crowe says. "I'm famous for making movies. Celebrity just happens to be an unfortunate byproduct of what I do."

In fact, when Paul Haggis tells me that Crowe donated a whole lot of money to his school in Haiti, the actor blanches.

I spoke to Crowe and director Haggis for their new thriller "The Next Three Days," which comes out next week, for a print piece in Sunday's Calendar section.

Over the course of the interview, it was clear how Crowe can be enjoyably contrarian, calling out even compatriots he feels deserve it. (Of Ridley Scott's decision not to go to the Cannes premiere of "Robin Hood," he says: "We'd been on this three-year journey, and two days out, Ridley calls
and says, [Crowe takes on an exaggerated British accent] 'I'm not going to make it. My knee's sore.' And I'm like, 'Come on. Take three nurses and get on a plane.'")

Crowe also has an anti-establishment bent that can amuse reporters inclined to the same. In a riff full of colorful profanities he gives his take on some big-budget studio productions: "This whole thing has evolved into this massively-organized-to-the-nth-degree, army-on-the-march thing. It's like ... me. Yes, massive preparation is absolutely required. But you can never account for the chaos. You can talk about shooting on the streets of Pittsburgh at  4:30 in the afternoon in one of those ... tunnels where everybody from Pittsburgh wants to get home because there's a hockey game on at seven o'clock and you're slowing down their ... lives."

But there's also a sense that he doesn't really want to be there -- more than a sense, actually, since at one point he talks about fame as something to "endure" and acknowledges "contractual obligations" as a reason he's doing publicity for movies in the first place.

It's all a bit Marlon Brando -- an actor acclaimed for gritty roles but also known for his disdain for public life. Actually, the Brando thing is an image Crowe has done little to dispel: a song he recorded early in his career is titled, plainly, "I Want to Be Like Marlon Brando."

As he tells me that "there's a whole bunch of blank space that's filled in with stuff that fills up pages of your newspapers, which is not real, and you know it's not real, and I know it's not real," he may in fact achieve the wish expressed by his song title.

--Steven Zeitchik



The Tao of Russell Crowe

 With The Equalizer, Russell Crowe looks to set things right

Russell Crowe wants us to look at the serious side of Robin Hood

Photo: Russell Crowe promoting 'Robin Hood' in Italy. Credit: Claudio Peri/European Pressphoto Agency


Comments () | Archives (9)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Having had the challenge of interviewing Crowe on a number of occasions myself, I can attest to just how spot on this post is.

Yet another story about Crowe, angled around his aversion to doing press. Link bait or search term optimized? What about acting method, or background on the story for the film he's doing press for? The joys and sorrows of working with Ridley Scott, which he's done several times now?

3 minutes isn't an eternity and you could even treat it like a really good cocktail conversation that is mercifully cut short. Even as the final comment is intended to be a droll revenge-condescension, it does illustrate his point.

Crowe wrote that Marlon Brando song when he was a teenager, a song he has readily admited is garbage. Heaven help us that our teen endeavors be used against us by writers with agendas 30 years down the line.

This article is more about Zeitchik than Crowe...

Doing interviews and promoting the tens of millions of dollars of "business" investment by the studios in your movie and in your bloated salary is PART OF THE JOB. These notoriously difficult actors, whether Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Tommy Lee Jones, whomever, should wake up every morning and kiss the ground that they are able to make a fortune, be famous (yes, at one early point in their career they really, really wanted it), at a time when millions are struggling should embrace it. Actors like Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford and Will Smith should be role models to them all. They understand the role of publicity. They don't call it a "necessary evil." It's as much part of the job as the acting itself. Russell, get over yourself.

Crowe has been complaining about the press junkets for over 10 years. He needs to figure out a way to accomplish the same objective or stopping moaning about it. It is probably part of the performance.

A bloated, nasty person who whines about making millions of dollars while turning out ever more diminished product. Russell, do us all a favor and retire. You look awful, you're unpleasant, and you act like a jerk.

Crowe is not backing up his assertion that the questions are the same so he likely knows that he is lying. If he were telling the truth, he would prerecord the question and the accompanying answer and give out the CD to reporters who ask tired questions. Done. Problem solved.

But then he may like to whine.

Yes, this article is bad reflection on the reporter who can't create the right questions that would engage Crowe and interest or inform the reader.


Crowe has played some outstanding characters and "starred in" some pretty lame movies but the one character that sums him up perfectly is Bud White - an angry, miserable, arrogant self-entitled bully who in real life has the added gift demeanor of a drunken lout and bad boy. It is easy to become a celebrity - just become a genuine foul-mouthed jerk. The bigger the jerk and louder the mouth, the more famous the celebrity. Take that Robin Hood, Girlyman of Loxley.


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