February 24, 2006
A blogger meets Russell Crowe
By Rob Irwin
Anyone who knows me, knows that I really like Russell Crowe. I think he's amazing onscreen and, off screen, I think he keeps it real and says and does precisely what he means to which to me is far more valuable in a person than the holier-than-thou personas which some actors try and adopt in order to keep their public image squeaky clean. They just shout FAKE to me.
Anyway as I mentioned over at my other blog in this post, I recently attended the launch of some new services from Sanity Digital. Part of this launch included live performances from Paulini (who some might remember from Australian Idol), followed by Russell Crowe and The Ordinary Fear Of God. Both artists can be downloaded via the new Sanity Digital service (as well as iTunes I hasten to add), hence their support on the night.
It was pretty amazing to see Russell perform, given that there weren't many people, relatively, at the event and my companions and I were able to stand as close to the stage as we wanted to. And, even though I've seen plenty of celebs in my time, I still found myself standing there thinking, fuck me hey everyone check it out it's Russell Crowe!
The gig went pretty well TOFOG can certainly get a good racket going but attempts by Russell at audience interaction fell on deaf ears. That's the nature of corporate gigs, I suppose. Half the people there don't care who's performing and the other half are acting too cool to clap in front of their peers, or wave their hands in the air at key moments, as Russell was trying to get us to do.
He actually got a bit peeved and, at one point, gave up on trying to involve the audience and said something like, OK, well just play music instead. So, later on, when the band left the stage, I was sure that was the last we would see of him and the boys. In my mind's eye, he was already jumping into a big black car backstage and zooming home to Danielle and Charlie at Woolloomooloo.
How wrong can a guy be?
Because I was there with work colleagues, I was still hanging around after the gig chatting away some 15 or 20 minutes later when one of them said, "Hey, here comes Russell." I looked around and, sure enough, Russell was walking among us. The room was almost empty and he went over to some people, who I assume must have organised some of the evening because he seemed to be on very good terms with them, shaking hands and kissing cheeks. Then a few stragglers moved over to say hi.
Now, despite being a MAJOR fan, the first inclination I had was to simply stand and watch him. It was a totally weird moment. The guy standing a few metres away was Bud White from LA Confidential, Maximus from Gladiator, Jack Aubrey from Master and Commander, Hando from Romper Stomper, heck, even Sid 6.7 from Virtuosity! All these movies I've loved and the man, the Oscar winner, the future owner of South Sydney, the family man, the friend of departed Hollywood legends like Richard Harris was right there in front of me. All these thoughts were rushing through my mind so what did I do next? Knowing she was a major fan, I actually encouraged one of my work colleagues to go and get his autograph instead!
After she returned, buzzing from the experience, I determined that this was a now-or-never kind of moment, so I walked over to Russell no security in sight and waited while he signed a few items for people. Then he looked at me.
OK, this sounds completely girlie, but I don't care he was looking at me. One of the few actors I have an absolute and genuine respect for and, for that moment in time, he and I were about to engage in conversation. It was totally weird. I'm sure just about everyone can name a person who would cause the same reaction if they were to actually meet them. For me, the moment had arrived.
I tried not to be too weird and said something like, "Would you mind signing this?" Holding out the white cardboard folder which the evening's press kit came in. I had folded it over so he could sign on the inside which is matte cardboard, rather than the outside which is all shiny and smooth and probably very bad for autographs, not that I'm any kind of expert, I hasten to add.
Russell said sure and, while I held the cardboard, he went to sign, asking, "Whats your name, mate?" I said, Rob, and watched as he signed. Rather oddly, I remember thinking, Hey, look at Russell Crowes hands as I watched him sign, then the job was done.
I looked him in the eye again and said, "Thanks mate, I appreciate that," and he gave a nod and might have said something like, No problem, but I really can't remember. My legs were already carrying me back to my colleagues even though there were 101 decent questions buzzing through my head that I knew I should have asked top among them being how he was going with production on the WWII movie he's been linked to for so long, and whether I should ever put any faith in rumours of a Gladiator prequel, which has been mentioned for years. Speaking of Gladiator, I could have even asking an ultra-geek question as I own a rubber prop cavalry sword from that film and could have asked if he had used one too, or just the stuntmen. Heck, I could have even just said, Good luck with the Souths takeover but, to be honest, words had failed me and I just acted like any other dazed autograph hunter. I'm sure he's met a few in his time.
The next day at work I commented to a colleague, who was there on the night, that I could probably meet any other actor in the world now and it probably wouldn't be that big a deal in comparison. For me, both as a fan of Russell's and a movie buff in general, there probably aren't any other actors I'd rather meet more. Mel Gibson would probably be on the same level as Russell and anyone else would come a rung or two below that.
How amazing that I not only got to see an idol of mine, performing with his band in an intimate setting, I also got to talk to him and bag an autograph all without the hint of security or crush of other screaming fans, which are the kind of things you'd expect if you were to ever meet someone like this. Amazing.
(editor's note - see February 15)