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Category: Russell Crowe

Oscar Senti-meter: Russell Crowe and Miley Cyrus pump up the volume

February 10, 2012 |  4:39 pm

When Oscar nominations were revealed on Jan. 24, certain snubs — Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Tilda Swinton, “Bridesmaids” — really hit a nerve. Disaffected fans, including some celebrities, expressed their dismay on Twitter.

Australian actor Russell Crowe was among the many people who voiced disappointment when Gosling wasn't nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in “The Ides of March” or “Drive.” “Ryan Gosling didn't get an Academy nomination? There's some [nonsense] right there,” Crowe tweeted on Jan. 25 (although he used a more colorful word than “nonsense”).

The Oscar Senti-meter — an online tool developed by the L.A. Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab — analyzes opinions about the Academy Awards race shared in millions of public messages on Twitter. One interesting application of the Senti-meter is examining the effect of celebrity tweets.

INTERACTIVE: Oscar Senti-meter

The Senti-meter combs through a high volume of tweets daily and uses language-recognition technology, developed in collaboration with USC's Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages. It also tracks the number of tweets.

More than 2,500 users retweeted Crowe's initial message about Gosling. Crowe continued the Gosling chatter the next day when he wrote, “I note that the australian academy has nominated Fassbender and Gosling for Best International actor,” referring also to “Shame” star Michael Fassbender and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Awards. (Jean Dujardin of “The Artist” would ultimately take home the award.)

Looking at the Senti-meter from Jan. 25 to 26, the tweet count for Gosling and his award prospects rose from 754 to 893, partly powered by Crowe's tweets, and positive sentiment for Gosling also rose. Gosling's tweet count continued its climb through Jan. 27, hitting 1,043 total tweets.

Another celebrity who has proved capable of moving the needle is pop starlet Miley Cyrus. On Jan. 23, she tweeted, “‘Midnight in Paris' makes me want to go back to the most romantic city in the world,” a reference to the Woody Allen film starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.

The sentiment was retweeted more than 6,000 times and prompted replies both positive, such as “@MileyCyrus its like one of the best movies of 2011? #amazing ‘Midnight in Paris' #MidnightInParis,” and negative, including “@MileyCyrus I was disapointed w ‘Midnight in Paris'-- regardless, it still made me mad-jealous of Luke [sic] Wilson.”

Between Jan. 22 and 23, the Senti-meter data shows the tweet count for “Midnight in Paris” rising from 1,723 to 2,404, an increase of nearly 40%. Positive sentiment for the film also shot up on Jan. 23, reaching its highest point. Replies and retweets continued to ripple for days afterward.

Comedian Michael Ian Black racked up 1,274 retweets with a quip about Meryl Streep on Jan. 15, the night Streep won lead actress in a drama at the Golden Globes for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” “The only time Meryl Streep sucks at acting is when she pretends to be surprised when she wins awards,” Black wrote.

His bon mot was part of the massive volume of Streep tweets posted that day: 37,583.

Fellow comedian Chris Rock also offered up some Oscar humor on Twitter. On Jan. 26, he wrote, “I'm at the movies went to see the artist the movie looks great but the sound is [messed] up,” garnering 357 retweets.

Fortunately, Rock doesn't have to worry about sound problems on Twitter. The Senti-meter is always listening.


Demian Bichir leads best actor tweet mentions

Your Tweets on Meryl Streep vs. Michelle Williams

Check out the Oscar Senti-meter tool online

— Oliver Gettell

Russell Crowe mounts a one-man sequel campaign

December 6, 2010 |  7:46 pm

Russell Crowe is at it again.

No, not telling newspaper reporters he doesn't believe what's written in newspapers. The Aussie actor is trying to foment a different kind of revolution, this time by starting a Twitter campaign for a new "Master and Commander" film.

"If you want a Master and Commander sequel I suggest you e-mail Tom Rothman at Fox and let him know your thoughts," Crowe tweeted, referring to the studio head.

Crowe actually has a point -- there are more Patrick O'Brian books where Peter Weir's original came from. (The author wrote 20 in all.) And the first nautical adventure, while only a modest performer in the U.S., was a global hit, with more than $200 million in receipts when it came out seven years ago.

Of course, there's no indication that there's any development momentum whatsoever on a new film based on O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series (which follows the adventures of two naval officers during the Napoleonic Wars). And it's hard to see this as something other than Crowe trying to get back to his salad days after a string of flops.

Studios know that nautical movies are knotty and expensive propositions, which is why a Fox spokesman tweeted back that there was nothing happening right now. "Getting a lot of tweets about Master & Commander sequel, I'll look into it (I'd love one, too, but as you all know a LOT goes into it.)"

So no new "Master and Commander" for now -- although Twitter campaigns from A-list actors aimed at studio heads are almost as interesting a plot turn as anything in the stories of the ship-bound themselves.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Master and Commander." Credit: 20th Century Fox


Russell Crowe: One tough interview



The RZA, now in auteur flavor

November 23, 2010 |  7:00 am


His movie  may not have exactly attracted a huge audience this weekend. But the RZA, the  Wu-Tang pioneer who co-stars with Russell Crowe in "The Next Three Days," took another step toward crossover fame with his turn as a violence-embracing drug dealer in the Paul Haggis film.

It's a bit of a different turn than the hip-hop star's other roles -- say, as a member of the police force in another Russell Crowe movie, "American Gangster."

"It was a cool thing to do, a chance to bring out some toughness and a chance to be the aggressor," the RZA says of his new part.

The Staten Island, N.Y., Grammy winner says that the movie, set in a tough part of Pittsburgh not far from where he spent a part of his childhood, hit a little close to home. "Some of the scenes we shot were in a place called the Hill, and as we're walking through, we're seeing a lot of people living in poverty. And I thought, 'I lived in that kind of poverty.' I ran into a guy I knew who did time in jail."

The music star is now putting himself on a different kind of hot seat -- that of director -- as he prepares to shoot  "The Man With the Iron Fist," a martial-arts film he wrote with Eli Roth that will be set and shot in China, and that Crowe will star in. "It's 10 times the focus, 10 times the pressure of putting out an album," the RZA says. "Also 10 times the blame.'

The singer-turned-director says that it's the attention to detail that's been keeping him up nights. "There are so many meticulous things you have to pay attention to. I'm loving it. But I see why some directors do it every two or three years. It's not for the meek."

But those hoping to see a return to the screen for the hip-hop artist may be in for a disappointment:; RZA says that, at the moment, he doesn't plan on starring in the kung-fu film. "I'm Captain Kirk," he said. "If I can find Mr. Spock, I can beam down. But for now I gotta stay in the bridge."

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Russell Crowe, left, and the RZA in "The Next Three Days." Credit: Lionsgate


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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


With 'The Equalizer,' Russell Crowe will look to set things right

June 15, 2010 |  4:14 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Russell Crowe has been on the business end of some rough news lately, first some mixed response to, and results for, his "Robin Hood," and then that scurrilous Web rumor that he'd, um, died. (The report had him falling off an Austrian mountaintop -- it was the usual hoax.) He could use a man like Edward Woodward's character from "The Equalizer" to help him out.

Now Crowe will have the chance to call on just such a man. Actually, he'll do one better:  he'll have the chance be that man.

The actor has attached himself to play Robert McCall, the mysterious agent made famous by Woodward in the 1980s CBS crime series. Fans of the series will remember that McCall's background was murky -- he once worked for a top-secret agency, where he did some pretty horrible things -- and we watched him every week in his new, repentance-minded guise, righting wrongs for the persecuted by settling scores with their persecutors (and assorted miscreants).

Crowe will be seen in another character-driven thriller -- the kind of role in which he excels -- when he unites with Paul Haggis in the thriller "The Next Three Days," in which he plays the husband whose wife is wrongly accused of murder. Crowe is also loosely attached to some other films, but does not have a new movie lined up.

Mired for years in development at the Weinstein Co., the cinematic reimagining of "The Equalizer" now is with a group of high-level producers: industry veteran Mace Neufeld ("Hunt for Red October" and a slew of action hits), who's actually been involved for a while; Adam Sandler collaborator Alex Siskin; and Escape Artists, the company that produced action movies like "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" and darker films like "Seven Pounds." There's no studio on board yet, but it's been making the rounds to a number of Hollywood studios for several weeks, some of which have shown interest.

There's good reason for that. The 1980s have shown some box-office life with "The Karate Kid," which became an unqualified hit last weekend. Of course, that was a family-oriented crowd-pleaser. Going gritty didn't work, on any level, with another '80s revival in "The A-Team." And there's no shooting script, so don't expect to see this at the multiplex anytime soon.

But a man with a mysterious past and a dark edgy side would certainly be a juicy role for Crowe. We're already salivating over the media interviews that might come with it.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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

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Cannes 2010: At Cannes' opening night, several arrows but few sharp points

May 12, 2010 |  7:31 pm


Books shouldn't be judged by their covers, but sometimes a jacket illustration tells you all you need to know about what's inside, just like a film festival's opening night can suggest plenty about the days that lie ahead.

Cannes kicked off its 63rd edition on Wednesday night with two events that won't go down in infamy but will hardly be canonized in the festival's hallowed pages either. At the main hall in the elegant, starchy Palais, Universal unveiled its soon-to-be-released "Robin Hood," and although the premiere seemed to hit the big-event notes it needed to -- an after-party at a nearby beach-side club that featured paid medieval costume-wearers and a fireworks show amid the champagne swilling and dance-floor shaking -- it also bowled few over with its filmmaking. Those in the room described respectable but not overwhelming applause (a key indicator of any Cannes premiere). And the critics, many of whom had seen the film last week, were lukewarm.

There was concern that a particularly pointed reaction could come from the French, who aren't exactly depicted as saints or literary greats in the Ridley Scott tale.  In the end, the boo birds stayed in their cages -- "we're used to being portrayed this way in movies like 'Robin Hood,'" one French journalist told us afterward -- but the ovations didn't fly with great gusto either, according to many in the room. (That Scott himself wasn't there to take his post-screening bow probably didn't help.) In Cannes terms, it wasn't "The Da Vinci Code" (few experiences could match the 2006 opening-night debacle), but it wasn't last year's "Up" either.

Next door to the "Robin Hood" screening, in the film festival's alternative art house reality, the festival kicked off its competition sessions with a premiere screening of "Tournee," a directorial effort from French actor Mathieu Amalric, who dazzled audiences here three years ago with his astounding performance in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." "Tournee" is a film about a French sad-sack hustler (played by Amalric) who leads a group of American burlesque dancers on a tour of France. The subject matter was vastly different from "Robin Hood," but the reaction wasn't. Although it didn't fail on any major artistic level, most filmgoers, including us, found the burlesque slice of life interesting but the main protagonist opaque and familiar, as we did his problems. It's a character drama light on the characters and the drama. Don't bet on it for your office Palme d'Or pool.

Of course, it's really early, and festivals with weak opening nights can pick up speed, and those that start with a bang can end with a whimper. But for those looking for tea leaves, the two movies combined for an effect that could carry through the festival: typically elegant and without glaring holes, but overly familiar and at times unremarkable.

Maybe it's the ash from Iceland, maybe it's the slow international market, maybe it's the fact that industry types are still talking about Bob Berney, the distribution mastermind behind "The Passion of the Christ" and "Memento," who quit his year-old gig at start-up Apparition several days ago after being hailed as one of the great hopes for specialized cinema (his purchase of "Bright Star" at Cannes last year ignited talk of a rejuvenated market for upscale films in the U.S.). Whatever the reason, it hardly seems to matter; most of those nonfilm subplots have provided better drama than what's been shown on the screen.

-- Steven Zeitchik, reporting from Cannes

Photo: Russell Crowe in "Robin Hood." Credit: Universal Pictures

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Cannes 2010: Russell Crowe wants us to look at the serious side of Robin Hood

May 12, 2010 |  6:03 am

Russell Crowe
"Robin Hood" may be a big-budget action movie that Universal hopes will generate blockbuster numbers. But star Russell Crowe also sees it as something else: an allegory for ... Rupert Murdoch?

Asked at the Cannes Film Festival opening-day press-conference about interpreting Robin Hood for a modern audience, Crowe wondered aloud how the character would operate if he were alive today. "Would Robin Hood's aim be political? Would it be economic?" he asked reporters. "Or would he look at what you guys are doing?"

Crowe's conclusion is that Robin Hood would target -- of course -- the forces behind newspaper and television consolidation. "My theory is that if Robin Hood was alive today he'd be looking at the monopolization of media" as a villain, Crowe said, though he didn't elaborate on just what the justice seeker might do about it.

Robin Hood billboard In a swaggering and entertaining performance, Crowe explained that the new movie, which was to open the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday night, junks the familiar inconography of flashy green tights and witty repartee to showcase a freedom fighter who helped give rise to the Magna Carta.

In a similarly serious vein, Crowe hopes that filmgoers hit the books after coming out to see his new action movie: "We're just doing a version of the history, and hopefully people's own curiosity is piqued and they discover things for themselves afterward." Among the history lessons he hopes audiences seek out: "An indolent egoist [King John] ends up signing the first version of the Magna Carta. What brought an indolent egoist to be the man who champions the rights of people?"

Crowe also said he wanted to put Robin Hood on the couch. "There wasn't a [previous] Robin Hood which game me a satisfactory feeling that I knew his motivation or backstory. " (The new version focuses on the events leading up to the character becoming an outlaw.) Crowe added later, "Whatever you think you know about Robin Hood is a previously understandable mistake. "

Crowe, costar Cate Blanchett and producer Brian Grazer (director Ridley Scott didn't make it to Cannes as he recovers from knee surgery), were also all asked about the elephant in the room: the unsavory depiction of the French for a movie opening a French film festival. (France's King Philip schemes to take over Britain, among other distasteful details.)

Grazer cautiously allowed that the portrayal could trouble some in the audience but thought the film's particular focus should mute criticism.  "We're somewhat aware there's a political nature, but really this is a story of Robin," he said.

Crowe mused that, for the Cannes selection committee, historical accuracy may have trumped national identity: "Richard de Lyon didn't make it home to England," Crowe said. "He was shot by a French cook. ... I think that's an important piece of history, and I think that's why we're opening the Cannes Film Festival." (A few in the room laughed at this, but Crowe appeared to be serious.)

But Blanchett may have had the most slyly honest response to the question. Said the actress of the movie: "I think the English come off worse than the French."

-- Steven Zeitchik and Rachel Abramowitz


Photos: Top, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett at a "Robin Hood" press conference in Cannes, France. Credit: Ian Langsdon / EPA. Second, a "Robin Hood" billboard adorns the pier in the city. Credit: Steven Zeitchik

An ash-colored pall could settle over the Cannes Film Festival

May 9, 2010 | 12:22 pm

Will Russell Crowe and Sean Penn need to board a steamship?

With the Cannes Film Festival just three days away, the volcanic ash that has played havoc with European flight for the last month threatens to swirl up some trouble for the venerable film festival -- prompting delays, cancellations and creative means of alternative travel.

As of Sunday, France's Nice airport, which serves Cannes and the surrounding area, remained open, but a number of flights scheduled to arrive there had been canceled. The moves follow cancellations over the last several days of flights originating in countries including Ireland and Italy as Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano spews a fresh round of ash into the atmosphere.

Canceled flights could mean that participants in the world's largest film festival would arrive days late, or scrap their plans altogether, leading to a potential dearth of media and stars in a festival typically littered with them. (Crowe and Penn, for instance, are supposed to arrive in the festival's early days to promote their films "Robin Hood" and "Fair Game," respectively.)

There's little chance major events would be canceled outright, but media and screening schedules could be substantially juggled as talent, executives, media and the general public scramble to arrive in the South of France.

Even flights that have reached their destination successfully have taken much longer than usual. On Friday, a flight from New York to Nice -- a primary way by which Angelenos reach the Cannes Film Festival -- took 10 hours instead of the usual seven as pilots made a circuitous mid-air detour to avoid the ash cloud.

If those types of delays continue, they could cascade through the system and create numerous headaches in the tightly timed world of the Cannes Film Festival, where screenings and media opportunities are carefully packed together. 

Because they draw a diverse group of international attendees, film festivals are particularly vulnerable to airline delays prompted by global calamities. In 2001, the Toronto Film Festival was thrown into disarray when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred just days before the festival was scheduled to start.

And last year, a global swine-flu outbreak threatened to disrupt Cannes before the fears settled down and the festival came off without a hitch.

This year, the Icelandic volcano appears poised to do its own damage, potentially causing a fall-off in the number of attendees. But at least one veteran we spoke to was looking at the bright side: "Maybe this means you'll actually be able to move on the Croisette."

-- Steven Zeitchik (follow me on Twitter @zeitchiklat)

Photo: Ash from the Icelandic volcano. Credit: Associated Press

Don't ask 'Robin Hood's' Russell Crowe about wearing tights

April 12, 2010 |  2:06 pm

Russellcrowe The storm clouds parted just in time for Russell Crowe to receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday morning, when studio heads, actors and producers gathered to honor one of the industry's most celebrated leading men.

Producer Brian Grazer, DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg, and "Clash of the Titans" star Sam Worthington were some of the famous faces crowding the sidewalk in front of the Kodak Theatre, where throngs of fans held posters over barricades in hopes that Crowe might adorn them with his John Hancock.

After signing a few autographs himself, Jay Leno breezily took the stage to call Crowe an "all-around good guy" who "rides motorcycle" and is a "regular guy" who "just happens to be one of the greatest actors in the world."

Then came Ron Howard, who worked with the actor on both "A Beautiful Mind" and "Cinderella Man." He said the weather befitted the event.

"It's even more appropriate that it's clear, there's a little wind, there's a light cloud over here, dark clouds over there," he said, "because Russell is the type of artist that is a kind of force of nature."

We experienced that, er, force, first hand while interviewing Crowe after the ceremony. Things started out well enough, with a relaxed-seeming Crowe saying how happy he was to be receiving his star.

"Next to Sir Anthony Hopkins, that's not a bad spot," he smiled. "It's a nice piece of real estate."

But then we made our first mistake:

Continue reading »

Russell Crowe's bows and arrows to be a Cannes opener

March 26, 2010 |  8:00 am


After making animation -- or at least the people who create it -- the stars of the red carpet last year with "Up," the Cannes Film Festival is going with a more traditional opening night this year.

The festival announced Friday morning that "Robin Hood," Ridley Scott's take on the folkloric hero, will open its annual extravaganza on the Croisette. Russell Crowe stars as the iconic character, firing arrows, tangling with the sheriff of Nottingham and generally making mischief.

The movie's a pretty logical choice for Thierry Fremaux and the people who program Cannes: It offers a patina of seriousness, with Scott a multiple Oscar nominee, but also the media-ready glitz that the festival prefers for its opening night, with a glamorous international cast that includes Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt and Max von Sydow. And it jibes nicely with Universal's release date for the Brian Grazer-produced film: May 14, two days after the festival opens.

How does this choice fit with past Cannes openers? It marks the fifth straight year that the festival is opening with an English-language film (Dominik Moll's French-language "Lemming" was the last time it didn't) but the first time since "The Da Vinci Code" in 2006 that it's going with an action movie.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Follow me on Twitter.

Photo: Russell Crowe in "Robin Hood." Credit: Universal Pictures


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