Source: ABC news
February 18, 2001
Crowe Talks Ryan, Bad-Boy Image
Gladiator star Russell Crowe has stoically chosen not to talk to the press about his now-ended relationship with Proof of Life co-star Meg Ryan - until now, apparently.
In an interview published Saturday in Melbourne, Australia's Herald Sun, the 36-year-old Crowe is quoted as saying that he broke things off with Ryan to spend more time on his ranch outside Sydney.
"The bottom line is, I have a big life here [in Australia]," says the two-time Oscar nominee. "When I'm off the hook with the schedules, I have to come home. I can't sustain myself through the course of the year without filling up on home."
What does he miss most back home? His dog. "It's rough being away from your dog for six months. That's rough stuff, man," Crowe is quoted as saying.
That's bad news for his ex-flame Meg. But Crowe has kind words for his ex-squeeze. "Meg is a beautiful and courageous woman," he said, adding, "I grieve the loss of her companionship, but I haven't lost her friendship."
Crowe also took the opportunity to deny that the much-scrutinized song "Wendy" on his band's new album is about Ryan, and to laugh at his bad-boy image in the press.
"I have a lot of routines about this shit, man. I got married three times this year, I had half a dozen babies, every woman I talked to I impregnated, so I've got the most fertile breath on Earth," he jokes. "I don't care what the misconceptions are. I'm a bad boy. I'm a Lothario. Whatever, mate. At the same time all that stuff was being written, I was ear-tagging calves."
Crowe also denied tabloid stories that had him and Meg ending things with an argument in a Beverly Hills, Calif. hotel: "All these things that you read about us, the arguments here and there, and slamming this and that - that's just all absolute rubbish. It's complete garbage."
Source: The Age
February 18, 2001
Six odd foot of grunt
By Michael Dwyer
The newsstands of Sydney's Circular Quay are awash with tidings of "Russell's New Aussie Love". No need to ask "Russell who?" That doesn't mean he's entirely comfortable in this exalted company. Just metres away from the newsstand, in a plush hotel overlooking the harbor, Russell Crowe is holding court in a boys' club. There's indelicate language. A pack of fags sails across the room. Cartons of grog are on standby. Crowe's band, Thirty Odd Foot Of Grunts, is in the house.
Now don't laugh. Don't roll your eyes and lament the hubris of a grown man whose runaway acting career really ought to be enough to quell his juvenile yearning for the microphone and the mosh pit. Though it must be said, these are standard responses.
Given Crowe's acknowledged gifts on a different stage, it's a strange prejudice. How does a man twice nominated for an Academy Award (for The Insider and now for Gladiator) rationalise this mean-spirited view of his parallel (and, for the record, much longer) life as a musician, singer and songwriter?
"How do I rationalise it?" he growls, blowing smoke at the floor in his eagerness to tackle the question. "How do I rationalise having 10 pounds of bullshit written about me on any given day around the globe?"
The rhetorical rejoinder hangs for dramatic effect. "It's the same thing, man. That's got nothing to do with me. That's the thing that Russell Crowe has somehow become and it has nothing to do with me. I just have a sense of humor about it."
He says this in a humorless tone, before adding: "I have a sense of pity for those people." I'm not entirely convinced. The beefy 36-year-old's level gaze, his dense three-day growth and his deep thespian voice make for an intimidating combination. But the pugilistic demeanor soon softens.
"I understand it, mate, because I am as cynical and sceptical about popular music as anybody of my age who's seen the things that come and go," he says. "But I have the naive belief that if I keep doing it as honestly and as genuinely as I can, then sooner or later people are gonna listen. Sooner or later they're gonna realise there hasn't been any hyperbole, it hasn't been shoved down their throats, we're not on a major label and we're not trying to find some kind of marketing strategy to kid people into buying something that they don't need.
"I just maintain the belief that if I do what I do from that point of purity, sooner or later other people will care about it."
People certainly care about Russell Crowe the film star. In March, Oscar or no Oscar, he starts work on A Beautiful Mind with director Ron Howard for a reported $US 15 million. Not even the most ardent admirer of Romper Stomper could have predicted that eight years ago.
"Russell doesn't make decisions with the purpose of pleasing anybody else," says guitarist Dean Cochran, Crowe's musical right hand since they met in an Auckland nightclub in 1984. "The number of times a record company or somebody else has said to us 'it'll never work, it'll never work' those are most likely the things that end up working."
Crowe's optimism is not without foundation. His band Thirty Odd Foot Of Grunts (the name refers to a post-production dialogue direction Crowe found amusing while working on Virtuosity in 1995) pulled crowds in excess of two thousand on their handful of US live dates last year. It's probably fair to suggest that many of those who paid scalpers up to $US500 a ticket for the privilege were there simply to see Meg's new man rather than pay homage to the band. The question of exploiting his screen success for the good of his music is a vexed one. There's no question Crowe's financial security has given TOFOG opportunities that most independent bands only dream of. Their new album, Bastard Life Or Clarity, was rehearsed in London, recorded in Austin and Sydney and mixed in Los Angeles. There's no record company to foot that bill. To be sure, there have been offers. Trouble is, they tend to entail a degree of compromise that the band's singer, main songwriter and de facto leader flatly refuses to entertain.
"The multinationals we've met with won't let me be just a part of the band," Crowe explains. "We were pretty far down the track with contractual discussions just recently and it came down to a change of (album) title, a change of album cover, a change of song list, use of photographs, supermarket promotions.
"I left the meeting and said to (manager) Andrew Watt, 'I can't do it, mate; I cannot do it that way'. It would be of great benefit to him if we signed a multi-national deal, because his contract is all about percentages, but he agreed with me. He cares about it too much to pass it off that way."
It's a tough call for all concerned. TOFOG's new record might be a smash if it were released with a picture of Crowe on the cover. Instead, it's going out with a faintly discomforting shot of a squealing baby under an enigmatic title that could find it wrapped in brown paper for the US retail chains.
Crowe knows he's making life hard for himself, but he's fine with that. "I didn't just start making hard decisions the other day," he says with a stoic shrug. "I've been turning down easy money since I really was desperate for money.
"I only got the opportunity to do Gladiator because of the quality of work on The Insider. I only got to do The Insider because of the quality of work in LA Confidential. And that's been the case all the way back."
"I never assumed I'd get the opportunity to make movies. What I thought I was aiming for was, at best, a lead role in an Arthur Miller production with the Sydney Theatre Company, preferably at the Opera House. That's what I was aiming for." He allows himself an indulgent chuckle. Beyond the critical preconceptions, and regardless of the relative merits of the Grunts' workmanlike urban folk-rock, there's no question Russell Crowe the singer-songwriter is every bit as serious about his work as Russell Crowe the actor.
"Making music ..." Crowe ponders with some intensity ... "it's the same thing with the acting. It's not something I ever considered not doing. There is no other option for me.
"I get all those clever questions these days: 'Do you think, in another time, you might have been a gladiator?' And I just try to explain to people that even if it was 300 years ago I still would have been an actor or a performer. It's just what I do."
"Given that somebody is creative, it's totally understandable to me that that person is creative in multiple mediums. (Music and acting) are completely different things. Acting is such an introspective job. It's really about sitting and thinking something through and planning it and then a year later seeing its effect on an audience.
"Music is about absolute immediacy of emotion. There isn't any artifice in it for me. I sit down and write and sometimes the lyrics I write are not very complimentary to the author; that's just the way it is. It's still got to come out.
"I was talking to that bloke from the Red Hot Chili Peppers about this it's Anthony (Kiedis), right? He got really serious about it and he said, 'If I felt I could make a contribution to the artform, then I would act'. I thought well, that's a very sturdy answer but I think the whole thing is your contribution to yourself. You are the artform."
Ironically, that's where Russell Crowe and the supermarket tabloids agree. Russell is the objet. His acting, let alone his music, has already been eclipsed in some quarters by what he does, or is imagined to do, in his spare time. And yet, as 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts fill the evening air and stars twinkle over the Opera House, blonde bombshells remain in scant evidence. Where oh where is Russell's New Aussie Love?
"The fact is, right," he says, piercing gaze daring me to call him a liar, "Peta Wilson lives in the area I live in. She doesn't live adjacent to my property, as has been reported in some of the media. Apparently there's photographs of her on a bike ride with me, even though she was in America at the time I was on that bike ride.
"Over Christmas I have a very open-door policy. It's a very family-orientated thing that happens up on my farm and Peta popped in a couple of times with her little ... I think they're either cousins or nephews. But that doesn't constitute a romance. I just try not to let it affect me," he concludes, clearly agitated nonetheless, "because what's the endgame there? How do you stop it? You stop doing what you love? You stop putting yourself in a position where you're working at the highest calibre in an artform which is the most expensive medium that exists on the planet? Who wins then? It's just stupidity. And it all comes from some kind of barren series of intellects and I don't feel I need to respond to them. I'm just gonna keep doing what it is that I do."
Eluding paparazzi aside, A Beautiful Mind is shaping up as the biggest challenge of Crowe's career. He will play Jewish-American academic John Forbes Nash Junior, a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who has spent most of his life battling schizophrenia. Crowe is yet to meet him, though he clearly already knows his subject intimately.
"I like to come at these things a little slowly, come at them from the outside," he says. "The incredible thing about John Forbes Nash was that he out-thought the disease. He had such a powerful mind that he stopped taking the drugs that were provided for him and he worked out in his head a way of being able to understand actual reality, as opposed to his imagined reality." For somebody in Crowe's position, coming to grips with that dichotomy sounds like a valuable exercise. Like everything else, it's not a challenge he's taking lightly.
"Right now, as I'm talking to you about it, 1 have no idea whether I'll get anywhere near where it's supposed to go," he confesses with a nervous laugh.
"At the moment, it's just some gigantic mountain in front of me and I'm staring up at it thinking, 'Maybe they've got the wrong bloke'."