From Russell Crowe, interviewed by Martyn Palmer, in the Daily Mail:
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on. My mother Jocelyn was, and is, a voracious reader, but she had two sides. There were the books and authors that she read and talked about with her girlfriends – Ayn Rand, Gore Vidal – and the nightly addiction to Mills & Boon and Harold Robbins that she kept quiet. Many classics were much-loved gifts, and I remember Huckleberry Finn and The Swiss Family Robinson with huge fondness. Dumas, Brontë and Dickens were all family friends. My mother ensured that I read every word Dick Francis ever wrote, and whenever I drive through England, it makes me think of those novels. In terms of being fundamentally arrested by a book, there were probably three that grabbed me early on – The Magus by John Fowles, The Princess Bride by William Goldman and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Sex, humour and intuition – I’m OK with that.
When I was a young fella, I bought into the idea of music as a revolutionary force, and we always went to parties where a guitar was passed around like a talking stick. Stories got told. On special occasions my parents would take my brother and me to a dine-and-dance restaurant. A habit of live music had been set up in my life – the youth concerts on various Australian radio stations that champion home-grown music – made me forever inquisitive. A few weeks ago I discovered the Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi; just after that I heard Lisa Gerrard, the Australian singer [above] who performed on the Gladiator soundtrack sing at the Sydney Opera House, and then I was at a party in Los Angeles with Size2shoes, brothers Eoin and Moley O Súilleabháin, singing songs until dawn.
My favourite actor ever is Brando. But the living actor I admire most is Daniel Day Lewis. I was drawn to films in my childhood. When I was 12 I got into a Saturday-morning screening of Papillon, the 18-rated penal-colony drama. It was in a seedy theatre at the back of Bondi Junction in Sydney, and there’s no way I should have been allowed in, but at that time of day the staff couldn’t give a rat’s behind. I loved movies when I was a kid – I could have recited lines from every one I’d seen – but Chitty Chitty Bang Bang doesn’t set you up for Papillon. I watched it again a year ago, and the movie, which stars Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen, still stands tall; until Papillon I didn’t know how actors could transport you.
Something that causes much mirth among acquaintances is that the first time I ever went to the theatre was to see mime artist Marcel Marceau. It’s the truth, and I loved it. He was at the top of his game. But just for clarity, I have never intentionally performed a mime
I could go on endlessly about various painters and sculptors I love, but the first time I turned a corner there was the Fontana Di Trevi. Well, it landed in my heart and I know why so many make the pilgrimage to see it daily, routinely, over lifetimes. I love that it is so public and yet so sequestered, that it is lit and available 23 hours every day. I keep my promise to Rome whenever I visit and go and see it. And remember, I was born in Wellington, New Zealand and grew up in Sydney, Australia. We have much beauty but we don’t have a Trevi Fountain.