Russell Crowe features in the latest edition of “Empire” magazine, which hits the shelves on the 28th of september, here is a sneak preview of his interview:
Russell Crowe’s friendship with Denzel Washington was sealed over cigars and brandy 12 years ago. Back in 1995, Crowe was making the futuristic thriller Virtuosity, playing cyberkiller Sid 6.7 opposite Washington as the cop who has to stop his rampage. “About half way through the shoot Denzel came to my trailer one night with two cigars and a bottle of cognac,” recalls Crowe. “He knocked on the door and was like, ‘shall we have a drink?’ And I was like ‘cool, come on in.’
“So we sat there and we were chatting for about half-an-hour, 40 minutes, and I always remembered something he said, and for me doing American Gangster is a partial payback for that. “He said, ‘you know, I’ve never said this to any other actor, but man, I wish I was playing your role.’ So when I got the Gangster script – and I knew how much Denzel wanted to do it – I read it and the thing is, what’s great about it is the character of Frank Lucas. On the page it was Frank and really there wasn’t any other half at that time, there was nothing going on. And that conversation, all those years ago, came to mind, because I’m reading it going ‘man, I wish I was playing Frank Lucas!’ So the process of getting involved in this is really a form of repaying him, a certain loyalty from 12 years ago.”
Crowe’s happy to admit he felt the character of Richie Roberts was underwritten and desperately needed beefing up. Ridley Scott agreed, and they worked on the character together. “But you know we’ve done that before. We did it with Gladiator and to a lesser extent we did it with A Good Year.”
Scott and Crowe’s working relationship is underpinned by a deep friendship. American Gangster is their third film together and they are already committed to at least two more – Body Of Lies, the political thriller now filming with Leonardo DiCaprio, and Nottingham, scheduled for next year and which promises a new take on the Robin Hood story, with Crowe as the Sheriff. “I’ve loved that story since I was a kid and this is a really interesting way of doing it,” he explains. “I’m not saying anymore, but it’s not what you might expect.”
Crowe sees his relationship with Scott as something that’s developed organically, and which hasn’t been as tied to his movies as he might perhaps have preferred. “It’s just come about naturally. We probably should have worked together again straight after Gladiator because we knew then that we really enjoyed each other’s company and we enjoyed the way each other works.”
“But I suppose it’s not a usual thing and he went off and did his stuff and I went off and did mine. I mean, he did call me about things, like Black Hawk Down and Kingdom Of Heaven. I was going to be doing that for a couple of years but it just worked out that Cinderella Man was being shot at the exact same time that he wanted to go with that.
“But sort of after that cycle when he did those movies without me around, we just sat down one day and talked and we both came to the conclusion that we liked being on a set with each other, you know? I don’t want to disparage anybody else I’ve ever worked with, but I just really like the way he makes a film.
“He has a great respect for the medium and how much it costs. He takes a very working class attitude towards it and I appreciate that and I enjoy it too. I like to get to work and know that we are going to achieve something every day.:
Scott throws his hands up in mock surprise when Empire passes on this compliment a few days later, just before they are due to start Body Of Lies. “Did he say that?” he cries. “Shit, I’ll remind him of that when the shit hits the fan next week!”
Ironically this months Empire is also running a feature about the top 20 cops as voted for by their readers, which Crowe features in for his role in La Confidential, coming in at the No.4 spot. First place honours go to Dirty Harry, with some surprising additions you will have to read Empire out 28th September to find out who they are.
from November’s issue of Empire out this Friday!