Source: Universal Pictures | Press Release
February 22, 2001
Imagine Entertainment's "A Beautiful Mind," Starring Russell Crowe, to begin production on March 26; Ron Howard to Direct, Brian Grazer to Produce
Universal City, California -- Filming is scheduled to begin Monday, March 26 on Imagine Entertainment's "A Beautiful Mind," a co-production of Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures, directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer. The film will be distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Universal, with DreamWorks handling all foreign territories.
With a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman, "A Beautiful Mind" is a powerful drama inspired by the events in the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr., and in part based on the biography "A Beautiful Mind" by Sylvia Nasar. Oscar nominee Russell Crowe ("Gladiator," "The Insider") stars as Nash, opposite Oscar nominee Ed Harris ("Pollock," "Apollo 13") and Jennifer Connelly ("Requiem for a Dream").
From the heights of notoriety to the depths of depravity, John Forbes Nash, Jr. experienced it all. A mathematical genius, he made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. But the handsome and arrogant Nash soon found himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery. After many years of struggle, he eventually triumphed over this tragedy, and finally -- late in life -- received the Nobel Prize.
The production team includes Director of Photography Roger Deakins (Oscar-nominated for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"), Production Designer Wynn Thomas ("Analyze This"), Costume Designer Rita Ryack (Oscar-nominated for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas"), and Editors Dan Hanley ("Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "EDtv") and Mike Hill ("Grinch," "EDtv"). Filming will take place in Bayonne, NJ, Princeton, NJ, and New York City.
Russell Crowe received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the heroic Maximus in "Gladiator," and was nominated for an Oscar for his work in "The Insider" last year. His other credits include "L.A. Confidential," "Mystery Alaska," "Virtuosity," "The Quick and the Dead" and "The Sum of Us."
Ed Harris received an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Pollock," a film he also directed. He was previously nominated for his performance in Ron Howard's "Apollo 13." Jennifer Connelly gave an acclaimed performance this year in "Requiem for a Dream" and was also featured in "Pollock."
"A Beautiful Mind" marks the first collaboration between Brian Grazer and Ron Howard since the highly successful "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas," which was produced by Grazer, directed by Howard and released by Universal. The film, which stars Jim Carrey, has earned more than $260 million domestically, and was the domestic box office champ for the year 2000. The film has received Oscar nominations for Art Direction, Costume Design and Makeup.
With more than 22 Academy Award nominations and 17 Emmy Award nominations for his productions, and as the recipient of numerous distinguishing tributes, Brian Grazer is one of the most creative and prolific producers in the entertainment industry. Mr. Grazer has been responsible for some of the industry's most critically-acclaimed projects, and has been the driving force behind some of Hollywood's most successful box-office blockbusters. Among his films produced, which to date have grossed more than $4 billion worldwide, are: "Splash," "Ransom," "Liar Liar," "Apollo 13," "The Nutty Professor," "Life," "Bowfinger," and "Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps," which has grossed more than $123 million domestically.
An accomplished actor, writer, producer and director, Ron Howard joined forces with Brian Grazer in 1986 as founders and chairmen of Imagine Films Entertainment, Inc. As a director, Mr. Howard has been responsible for some of entertainment's most memorable moments, including: "Ransom," starring Mel Gibson; the 1995 blockbuster "Apollo 13," which was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and for which Mr. Howard was named Best Director of the Year by the Directors Guild of America; and the 1996 box office hit "Ransom." His other directorial achievements include "Far and Away"; "Backdraft"; "Splash"; "Parenthood"; "Willow"; "Gung Ho"; "Night Shift"; "Cocoon" and "The Paper."
DreamWorks SKG was formed in October, 1994, by its three principal partners -- Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen -- to produce live-action motion pictures; animated feature films; network, syndicated and cable television programming; home video entertainment; records; books; toys; consumer products and interactive entertainment.
2002 ~ Entertainment Weekly (US)
Scans by MM. The full article is here
Source: National Post
February 22, 2002
Russell Crowe turns back the clock on cool
by Barrett Hooper
A recent Entertainment Weekly headline stated, "Brooding bad boy and brilliant actor. Hellraiser and heartthrob. Player and poet."
The subject of the story was Russell Crowe. But 50 years ago it would have been Robert Mitchum, the heavy-lidded Hollywood icon who defined cool before anyone knew what cool was.
A former boxer and Georgia chain-gang escapee, Mitchum starred in more than 100 movies -- Night of the Hunter, Cape Fear, The Sundowners and Not as a Stranger, to name a few -- opposite Hollywood's most glamorous leading ladies: Jane Russell, Ava Gardner, Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth.
On-screen, he was cool and reckless, heroic and sinister, and as one biographer put it, "laconic to the point of inertia, yet still a man of action." Brooding and intense were words often used to describe his performances. In his Biographical Dictionary of Rim, David Thomson said of Mitchum: "Since [the Second World War], no American actor has made more first-class films, in so many different moods."
Off-screen, Mitchum was a celebrity who didn't give a damn about celebrity, a raffish outsider in a profession orchestrated by insiders. He chafed at having to play the Hollywood game and exhibited contempt for directors, studio bosses and journalists alike. His nonchalance led Katharine Hepburn to remark, "You know you can't act, and if you hadn't been good-looking you would never have gotten a picture." A drinker and a ladies' man, he said of his time in jail for marijuana possession in 1948 that it was "just like Palm Springs without the riff-raff."
He is best remembered for his chilling portrayal of the sinister "Reverend" Harry Powell (his knuckles tattooed with the words HATE and LOVE) in 1955's The Night of the Hunter and as the vengeful ex-con in the original Cape Fear. The irony was not lost on Mitchum, who initially turned down Cape Fear but, "unfortunately, I'd demonstrated that I knew more about the behaviour of the functional criminal than anyone else they could get."
Mitchum was an anachronism. He produced his own films. He wrote plays and an oratorio that Orson Welles produced and directed. He recorded a few songs, including the title track for the bootlegger epic Thunder Road. He turned down movies he felt "pissed on the world," such as Patton and Dirty Harry, believing, "If I've got $5 in my pocket, I don't need to make money that fucking way, daddy."
Like Mitchum, Crowe is an actor curiously out of step with his contemporaries. He quotes Oscar Wilde and fronts the folk-rock band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (who have released a handful of albums). He is combative and hard-living (only Sean Penn and Johnny Depp rival him for notoriety) and sweet and tender.
He projects old-fashioned masculinity (the strong, silent type), and buries himself in each role as though screaming at the audience, "Are you not entertained?" He shoots his mouth off with surprising regularity (just about any time there's a microphone in front of him) but he always shoots straight. And he admits he spends a lot of time "telling people to fuck off and get out of my life."
Just as Mitchum defined cool, Crowe is redefining it, setting the clock back a few decades in the process.
Next to him, Harrison Ford is an ageing monument, Bruce Willis's knowing wink becomes a facial tick, Tom Cruise looks girlish, and Tom Hanks, the modern Jimmy Stewart with whom Crowe is often compared because of how they've dominated the Academy Awards for the past decade, appears boyish.
Mitchum's rugged good looks, gruff manner and deep voice fulfilled the audience's desire for manly heroes after the Second World War (consigned to playing heavies in dozens of westerns, Mitchum's stock in Hollywood began to rise with his Oscar-nominated performance in The Story of GI Joe in 1945).
Likewise, Crowe's scruffily handsome features and lean, unscripted frame make him the antithesis of the steroid-weaned he-man of the 1980s and '90s.
Hailed as the new Mel Gibson when he arrived on North American movie screens in 1994, his first two outings -- as a reluctant gunslinger turned preacher in Sam Raimi's neo-spaghetti western The Quick and the Dead and a cyber killer hunting Denzel Washington in Virtuosity -- appeared to live up to the hype. But Crowe lacked Gibson's glibness, and the films lacked the weight to carry Crowe's emotional intensity and bottled volatility. After all, here was an actor who attracted the roving eyes of Hollywood with his menacingly realistic turn as a neo-Nazi skinhead in the Australian film Romper Stomper. When asked what he saw in the portrayal, Ridley Scott, who directed Crowe to an Oscar in Gladiator, said, "Animal."
But it was Curtis Hanson who first figured a way to harness Crowe's edgy restlessness. Needing an unknown -- "someone audiences wouldn't automatically assume was a good guy or a bad guy," Hanson said -- he cast Crowe as the bull-in-a-china-shop cop Bud White in LA Confidential, based on James Ellroy's gritty crime novel.
"I knew from [Romper Stomper] that he had the stuff to hold the screen and that he was able to play violence and still keep a character interesting," Hanson told The Times in 1997. "He understood the duality of the character. Bud White appears to be a mindless thug, and Russell handled that well, but he also brought a courtliness to Bud that lets women know there's more to him than that."
That has been a trademark of Crowe's, this image of a man who, as one writer has put it, "suffers bruising unhappiness as much as he doles it out."
LA Confidential heralded his arrival to moviegoers. His turn as reluctant tobacco-industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand in The Insider made the critics take notice, earning him his first Academy Award nomination for best actor two years ago.
He has since become famous for the chameleon-like extremes to which he goes to get inside a character, but after the bullish, flat-topped Bud White his transformation into the 53-year-old Wigand (19 years older than Crowe) was remarkable. Not only did Crowe capture the morally conflicted Wigand's restrained fury, he inhabited his body. Beyond the obvious tricks -- eyeglasses and a dye job -- Crowe suppressed his Aussie twang under Wigand's Bronx-reared, southern-inflected accent, altered the way he walks -- shorter, more deliberate steps -- and gained 48 pounds of Method flab on a six-week diet of "cheeseburgers and bourbon" to achieve Wigand's doughy physique.
"It's a kind of poetic approach to acting," according to Jay Roach, who directed Crowe in 1999's hockey drama Mystery, Alaska. "That's what makes it so powerful. He's very controlled and disciplined about the externals -- timing, blocking, choreography. But in addition to that he has a way of connecting to his subconscious that adds all these other layers of subtlety and nuance to what's on the outside."
Asked why he doesn't merely "try acting," as Sir Laurence Olivier famously suggested to Dustin Hoffman, Crowe responded "You know, fuck him."
When Crowe unleashed hell as Roman general Maximus in the sword-and-sandals romp Gladiator, it elevated him to Hollywood's A-list, proving he could embody the action hero and cause female fans to swoon without resorting to monosyllabic dialogue, self-reflexive quips and a fistful of machine guns. Joaquin Phoenix, the villain in Gladiator, said, "Now we care about heroes with flaws and humanity. I think that's what's so key about Russell's performance. He's a wonderful physical force, but there is such depth to his character."
He confounded again with yet another complex, intensely charismatic role, this time playing John Forbes Nash Jr. in A Beautiful Mind, a stranger-than-fiction story of a real-life Princeton mathematician and delusional schizophrenic who wins the Nobel Prize in economics. (Crowe went so far as to grow his fingernails so his fingers would feel more elongated and tapered, like Nash's, even though it wouldn't be noticeable on camera.)
"He's highly intelligent and he has this self-confidence that you could define as arrogance," said Ron Howard, who directed A Beautiful Mind. To which Crowe has rebutted "I'm not arrogant. I'm focused."
So while he has earned the respect of his directors, it is a begrudging respect. If Crowe is churlish toward the press (he was quoted in Australia's The Age as saying, "This whole concept that because you're famous you're public property -- who the fuck thought that one up?"), he's downright hostile toward those directing him.
"You don't have to like an actor to do a scene with him. You don't have to like a director," Crowe told Larry King.
And apparently, the feeling is mutual. Geoffrey Wright, who directed Romper Stomper, has called Crowe "the rudest actor I've ever met. He's also the most committed. So if he wants to abuse me and then give me the most sensational take of all time, I don't care."
It's a sentiment often repeated: by Hanson ("Russell was relentless in his pursuit of the essence of the character. If that made him a pain in the ass sometimes, you live with it"); and by Raimi ("The problem with working with Russell is that he always has a good idea. And he has no tact").
Crowe seems to relish playing the bad-ass; a motorcycle-riding, chainsmoking, hard- drinking, rugby-loving, cattle-herding brawler, a "wild man," as he has dubbed the persona. Manohla Dargis, writing in The New York Times, called him "the resurrection of the angry white man," someone who "values friendships between men over those between men and women" and who is "securely out of touch" with his feminine side.
Coming to Crowe's defence in The Sunday Times, Insider director Michael Mann has said, "He puts on this tough redneck act. The reality is that he's one of the most intelligent, sensitive actors around."
Therein lies the key -- ultimately, Crowe is deadly serious about his craft. And despite three Oscar nominations (with a second statue likely on the way for playing Nash) and a fistful of critics' choice awards, he's never satisfied.
He told Entertainment Weekly, "I always say I've given 24 insufficient performances and I'm looking forward to the time when I'll do something that I think is good."
Mitchum, too, always thought he could do better, that he had "as much inspiration and as much tenderness as anyone else in this business." But he ultimately came to realize that "you don't get to do better, you get to do more."
When Mitchum died in 1997, he was eulogized by long-time acquaintance and writer Dick Lochte. "He did what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. He lived hard. He played hard. He drank. He smoked. Mitchum was the genuine article -- the Hollywood tough guy as hard-boiled as the heroes he played."
In 40 or 50 years, that could easily be Russell Crowe.
Source: The Evening Standard | Hot Tickets magazine
February 22, 2002
Crowe's Feat: Inside the mind of Russell Crowe
By Edward Goodland
As Russell Crowe enjoys the fruits of a job well done - winning a Golden Globe, nominated for a BAFTA and a third consecutive Oscar for his performance in A Beautiful Mind - he's hoping that the folks back home don't get too over-excited.
They probably will, though. After all, winning is as much a part of Aussie culture as a barbie on the beach and Crowe, New Zealand-born but mostly raised in Sydney, knows that better than most. Bookies from Brisbane to Melbourne are doing brisk Oscar business and Crowe is short-odds favourite to collect a second golden statuette to bookend the one he won for Gladiator last year.
"Yeah, now I know how the Australian cricket team feels," he laughs. "The season is not even over and the Ashes is already not good enough. It's like they've already started into me. "Well, it was a one-off, it was a fluke." And I'm like, "Mate, the Oscars aren't a fucking fluke." Or it's, "Will he do it again?" And it's like, "Give me a fucking break, once is enough, calm down..." But they do seem to treat it like some kind of sporting event..."
Difficult as it is, the man himself tries to keep a bit of perspective and is certainly not, he will tell you, picking roles with one eye on potential awards. "It's great, obviously, to be nominated, to be recognised by your peers. But I'm certainly not choosing parts because I think they will get an Oscar nomination. Anyone who knows me knows that would be bullshit."
Bullshit is something that the plain-speaking Crowe is not too fond of. He is prone to saying exactly what's on his mind (usually adorned with a fair few expletives) and has a reputation among film journalists for being, shall we say, a combative interviewee, especially if the conversation strays into areas which he considers inappropriate. And mostly, that would be his private life and in particular his well publicised romance with Meg Ryan.
Cast together as leads in Taylor Hackford's thriller Proof of Life, Crowe played a former SAS officer turned hostage negotiator who falls for the wife of a kidnap victim, played by Ryan. America's favourite sweetheart was fresh from a painful split with Dennis Quaid and Crowe was conveniently seen as the villain. Inevitably, their affair hit the headlines all over the world. "The situation with Meg was complicated," he says, referring to the tabloid stories of the time. "But the accusations that were levelled at her - and this left-over, residual reputation that I now have - all of that was undeserving.
"Disseminating any more of the relationship is not something I'm going to do. I think Meg is a fantastic woman. I value her friendship immensely and for all of the silliness that came up later, it was an incredible thing."
Since their break-up, more than a year ago now, he has been linked with various women. "It's just rubbish," he says. "Mostly, because I won't discuss my private life it seems that certain publications feel at liberty to fill in the blanks. Anything that people can say about you is valid,
apparently. But the most important thing is not to let it eat at you. At the end of the day it's the work that matters. I know that sounds earnest but I think it's true. The rest is just bullshit."
At 37, Crowe is at the very peak of his profession. He has proved, time and again, that while other actors talk up their desire for a career of diversity, he can actually deliver a staggering range - from a paunchy, introverted tobacco industry whistle-blower in Michael Mann's excellent The Insider, which won him his first Oscar nomination, to a beefed-up Roman general seeking to avenge the murder of his family in Ridley Scott's epic Gladiator, to a mathematician plunged into the dark depths of madness in A Beautiful Mind.
Back home in Australia, even before Hollywood beckoned, Crowe has shown that same desire to keep everyone guessing over what he would do next. And he's not about to change now. "When I started out, I did seven movies in a very short space of time. I played everything from your iconographic Australian characters (The Crossing), to skinheads (Romper Stomper) to a gay plumber (The Sum of Us) to an anally retentive Welsh Baptist virgin (Love in Limbo), and after seven movies I realised that if I didn't expand where I was working I was going to have to start repeating characters."
Expanding meant heading for America and after The Quick and the Dead, with Sharon Stone, and Virtuosity, with Denzel Washington, his breakout role was playing the violent cop Bud White in the superb LA Confidential which proved to Hollywood that Crowe could deliver. And some. Although he spends months at a time in Los Angeles, he has never moved there, preferring instead to go back to his 750-acre farm in northern New South Wales where his parents, Jocelyn and Alex, live with his older brother, Terry.
He first bought a 100-acre plot with a "shack" on it some five years ago. Since then he has snapped up more land and turned it into his own private haven. "I love it. We've got cattle, a few horses, a family of wallabies in one of the paddocks - and plenty of space. I'm away a lot but when I'm there it gives me everything. It's big enough for me to get some solitude. I can just wander off and walk for miles.
"My life, when I'm working, is people-intensive, so I like the chance to be on my own, especially at the farm. But at the same time the place can accommodate every special person in my life - my family, my friends. We can all be there together and that's great.
Something of a workaholic, when he's not making movies Crowe is usually to be found playing with his band, Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts, the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary film, Texas, screened at the Berlin Film Festival a couple of weeks ago. Crowe knows, of course, that actors-cum-musicians are usually seen as something of a joke. He points out that he was a musician before he was an actor - his early career in New Zealand and Australia combined both with roles in Grease and The Rocky Horror Show - and that his band, in one form or another, dates back to 1984, long before fame and fortune came calling. "We're a good band and we will continue to grow. But I don't want it to be shoved down people's throats so they resent it. And, you know, that's OK. I understand that cynicism and I think you should take everything, where actors are singers, singers are actors, with a pinch of salt.
"However, every now and then it does happen. Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts is not going to change the face of music as we know it, but it is a more than decent band with a more than decent collection of songs that are poignant and real."
He isn't, however, about to give up the day job. In A Beautiful Mind, his compassionate, moving portrayal of John Forbes Nash Jr and his descent into a delusional hell, has won praise from mental-health experts in America. Loosely based on Sylvia Nasar's book on Nash, the film has, however, also drawn criticism for taking some liberties with the truth. Nash, a mathematical genius who revolutionised established thought on game theory and the mathematics of competition, was a brilliant, if eccentric, Princeton student with a dazzling future ahead of him. After college he worked for the intelligence services in Cold War America and met and married the beautiful Alicia (Jennifer Connelly).
For a while, it seemed that Nash had all he could possibly wish for. But then, illness took over and Nash was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and for decades was lost in a delusional world of his own. His wife stood by him through those troubled years and eventually Nash recovered to rebuild his life. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1994.
In America, some critics have complained that the film neglects some key issues - Nash's alleged sexual liaisons with men, the fact that he and Alicia divorced before getting back together again and Nash's singular political views. For Crowe, they are missing the point. Ron Howard's film, is, he says, essentially a love story. "We are not telling the full story of Nash's life and the film-makers have been clear about that from the outset. We were trying to take the audience to a place where they are imagining and seeing life the way that he did. And I think that without going to any places of untruth we've taken the essence of the story and put it in front of people. And you have a limited time in a feature film to tell the whole story, the absolute story of a life.
"But the point of it is that this guy faced this disease, schizophrenia, and over time learnt to control it and came out the other side to tell the tale. And for me, the relationships between John and his wife, Alicia, was so strong and compelling. It wasn't just a film that dealt with mental illness or talked about this genius, a man who won the Nobel Prize. It was a great romance, it was this wonderful, committed relationship that lasted through it all."
Russell and Nicole Kidman interview each other
Oprah's Oscar special ~ 2007
View the video and many more screencaps in The Day Job
Russell and Dani shopping in Beverly Hills ~ 2008