Source: Maximum Crowe.com
February 27, 2002
The Steve Wright radio show
SW: Russell Crowe is here - Good Afternoon!
RC: Good afternoon, how you doing ?
SW: How you doing?
RC: Pretty good.
SW: Now you know, I went up to Russell the other evening and I said that I'd seen this film and I think it's a fantastic film and you are particularly brilliant in it, if you don't mind me saying.
RC: Thanks mate.
SW: The movie is A Beautiful Mind, tell us about the part that you play.
RC: I play a fella called John Forbes Nash Jr., who was a mathematician at Princeton in the late 40's & early 50's and he wrote a few papers on a thing called game theory. He was overtaken by schizophrenia in his early 20's and spent 40 years hospitalized and medicated and having some very strange episodes. Because of the power of his mind, because of his ability to analyze, he was able, at a certain point, to work out the indicators for reality and the indicators for other planes of reason. So he ended up being given the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics, for a paper that he wrote back in '51 or '52.
SW: A real guy, or course.
Janey: How much do you stick to the real facts then ? Is it absolutely the true life story ?
RC: If you're gonna do the absolute true life story in a film biography you have to be in the cinema , in this instance for about 72 years. So...(giggles)
Janey: Might be just a little long for me.
RC: It's a little impractical you know, We have very definitely captured the spirit of John Nash's life, used many cinematic devices to indicate thought processes and stuff whereas to go through the absolutes of every single thing that ever happened in in his life is not really what you do with biography.....
SW: How much of his personality did you, I mean you presumably know him, how much of his personality did you take?
RC: Well as much as possible. You are dealing with a situation where you have a 72 year-old man who is still alive, we have 17 black and white photographs of him as a young man, not a single piece of footage because he may have been known in mathematical circles but he wasn't by any means a famous person. We don't have a recording of his voice, we don't know what he spoke like, and in the middle of those two points you have 35 years of hospitalization and medication.
Also the onset of the disease that effects people greatly in terms of their physicalisation. At a certain point of learning about the character of learning about the disease of learning about the time period, the social moors, the effect of the medical treatment available at the time -- at a certain point, you have to jump off that scaffolding of knowledge and use deduction and assumption.
SW: But were you immediately attracted to playing the character when you saw the script?
SW: Because of what he went through and because of the way it was gonna be portrayed on screen, because there are some interesting twists and turns which we shouldn't be giving away.
RC: There's a cinematic device in the movie that was in the script that adjusts the perceptions and the perspectives of the audience, which . . .
SW: Yeah, definitely.
RC: I thought if that can be realised is gonna be a wonderful experience for the audience in the cinema.
SW: It's such a beautiful twist and it works, it's just fantastic.
RC: Yes, but then the thing that really got me was the love story. That's the reason I wanted to do it because there's been a lot of articles that question the validity of telling the love story in this way, but quite frankly most people have another relationship before they get married and people who have been together for 50 years know how difficult it is to be together for 50 years, let alone when your partner is schitzophrenic. So there were time periods where they weren't together, there were time periods where they lived separately. They got divorced and they just recently got remarried again, but the essential bottom line is they've been together pretty much 47 out of 50 years.
SW: There's a great, I mean I don't want to big you up too much -- make you big headed, but there's a great subtly about your performance in this, and you kind of lead into it, don't you really ? Do you know what I mean?
RC: Do I? Lean into what?
SW: Well. . .
RC: (putting on an accent) What are you talking about Steve?
SW: I don't know, I actually don't know what I'm saying most of the time.
RC: But you're just expecting me to help you out?
Tim: Yeah ! It was a much more subtle performance that say Gladiator for example.
RC: Well I think you're wrong. I think you're absolutely and totally wrong. The reason that Gladiator was a successful movie was because it was a fully realised emotional journey that you followed as an audience. You know, yeah we stop every now and then and stab some tigers but that's not what you're following, You're following the story of vengeance and this man who's lost his wife, who's lost his child and it's a very subtle performance, You give that gig to Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone and nobody's gonna give a stuff.
Tim: Yeah, I agree with that. I didn't mean to upset you, I liked the film anyway and you got an Oscar for it.
RC: Yeah well you accused me of something specific and I specifically gave you my opinion (everyone laughing).
SW: Yeah, I think you're right to deal with Tim: in that way. Frankly, I often do myself Russell, and you know there is something wrong with his perception here.
Janey: YOU STARTED THIS!
SW: Oh yeah!
Tim: I tried to help you out here.
SW: I thought I handled myself very well.
RC: Does he do that often?
ALL: Oh yes!
SW: I thought I handled myself very well.
RC: So he takes you down a road and you follow him down the road, and he goes 'what the hell.'
SW: It's all turning, wait a minute, we're gonna come back in a moment.
RC: Anyway luv, it's just you and me left (turning to Janey.)
SW: Last week we were at the Brits and I came up to you and said hello, and of course you were surrounded by girls and er . . .
RC: No I wasn't.
SW: You were.
RC: No I was sitting next to my girlfriend you fool.
SW: Ah yes, but there were girls interested in talking to you. Why would that be?
Janey: We wonder!
RC: Probably because you were standing near me.
Janey: Aaah - great answer!
RC: You do have a great face for radio.
SW: thank you very much for that!
Janey: He's remembered all the lines you gave him.
SW: I'm getting some Australian stuff at me now.
Tim: You can come again Russell.
SW: What about some of the stuff you've done in the past. You were in Neighbours ?
RC: I did four episodes of Neighbours, which takes you roughly 3 hours to complete. It was 1987 I was in Melbourne doing theatre. The lady who was the casting director said we've got this character coming up, would you like to do it ? It was about 10 Tim: es the wages for doing those four episodes, than I was getting for 8 shows a week in the theatre. also when they sent me the script, if you can call it a script, it's not really a script it's kinda pages. I don't know what it is. It's just stuff. That's it - this is the stuff, and I read it and what really appealed to me and you forgive me if I seem perverse, but I got to punch Craig McLaghlan, while Kylie Minogue was on my back trying to strangle me & I thought to myself, if that's as close as I ever get -- that'll do me.
SW: (Everyone laughing) Excellent. Well what about this roller coaster of stardom. Is it what you always wanted, is it what you expected it would be?
RC: I have a really good life. You know I have absolutely no complaints. I have been able to put myself in a situation where my family are looked after. I have a really beautiful place that I call home. I've got about 750 acres of pasture land and tall trees in the North East of New South Wales. I run Angus cattle, I've got dogs, I've got horses you know. There are a lot of things about this life which you do have to learn about and you have to begin to deal with.
SW: Would you say Russell, that you embrace Hollywood or are you a little anti-Hollywood?
RC: (Giggling) I wouldn't say that I embrace Hollywood, Steven. I couldn't possibly say that.
SW: Would you say that you keep it at arms length then.
RC: Yeah, on purpose. I understand that Los Angeles is the centre of the business. That's where the great filmmakers of the world go to get financed, so I understand the city from that point of view. I've spent quite a bit of time in the town, learning about the town, but I've never lived there. I've never lived in America. I've always lived in Australia and I think that objectivity is one of the reasons why a lot of the directors I work with want to hire me in the first place.
SW: Well also, the fantastic Australian sense of humour and of course Australians understand irony.
RC: And some other people do not.
SW: Exactly some other people, not mentioning any particular race, obviously.
SW: Russell Crowe is with us, here's Janey . . .
Janey: What about you as a musician ? Cos you've got a single coming out, haven't you ?
RC: Well when it comes to music, I'm very anti-corporate, anti-marketing so if that's what you want to call it -- there's a single coming out, go ahead. You probably will find you can go to a shop and ask for that single and it's not available (little giggle) But my band has been operating for 18 years now. We just do our own thing. I don't have a corporate attitude towards it. I got offered a lot of money to sign with an American company a little while ago, and we just simply decided not to do it, because that would come with certain responsibilities We do it for our own enjoyment. Songwriting for me is a very personal thing but as with all kind of performance based things, eventually you need to have an outlet for it. The thing is we've been selling records on the internet for about 6 years so the audience is international anyway. It's expanded. Our biggest market is America, followed by England then Ireland. I think the songs just speak for themselves, I mean people haven't had music shoved down their throats. If they've discovered it by themselves and they've taken it to their heart. Music -- as Sting said at the Brit's -- is it's own reward and I think that's a really cool way of saying it. I've been searching for a couple of years to try and explain this to people.
Tim: The album is called "Clarity" isn't it.
RC: Well it's actually called 'Bastard Life or Clarity' -- but apparently you guys are getting too sensitive over here and you have to drop the 'bastard,' which is very amusing. Americans can do it. You can have this album selling in the bible belt in America, but (puts on an English accent) you just can't get it in Notting Hill with the word bastard in it.
SW: It's a term of endearment in Australia?
RC: Of course, in Australia we integrate adjectives all the time!
SW: And you say 'us' and 'we' and 'my band'. They are the fabulously named Thirty odd foot of Grunts, yeah ?
RC: Yeah well again, that's a name that you just cannot market.
SW: For sure, where does that come from ?
RC: Well, I was looking for some kind of a phrase that didn't mean a thing. Something that actually you couldn't say oh they must be a such and such type of band. Funnily enough, I was doing a thing called ADR - Analogue Dialogue Replacement for a movie called Virtuosity -- with Denzel Washington, and we had this fight sequence on a rooftop and film is still measured in feet, and it had on the form between 558 and 588 '30 odd foot of grunts'. I went 'that's cool!' and got really enthusiastic about it and the band still rue the day they didn't say 'no' straight away. Because we were sitting in rehearsal and I said 'well what about this' and they were like (gasp) you know, they took that intake of breath, and I took that to mean 'yes.' SW: How would you describe it because I was listening to it earlier on, and I'm thinking I don't really know how to describe the genre of music.
RC: We call it folk music you know just straight folk music.
SW: You wouldn't call it country rock ?
Tim: Yeah, I thought it was country rockish.
RC: Well only because we come from a far more Celtic background than American background. So I just call it folk music. It's not as dusty as that might mean to some people. When you say folk music they think purely acoustic and stuff, I mean we get pretty rowdy at Tim: es as well, but the songs are narrative based. They all have some connection to situations and people we've either experienced or met.
SW: Yeah, Oh good luck with that, and I must say -- just say again, I REALLY enjoyed this film A Beautiful Mind because the film company gave me a little copy to watch knowing that I was going to be talking to you and I think it is a fantastically subtle performance. I can say that, can't I?
RC: yeah, yeah OK.
SW: I thought it was a very moving film and there was a tear in the eye at the end.
Tim: Can't you at least take a compliment?
RC: Yeah, but you did that before, right?
RC: Are you just gonna keep harping on and on?
SW: Yeah, but no it's not, it's heartfelt.
Tim: : He's got you sussed mate -- I tell you.
SW: Very nice to talk to you. Thanks for being on, A Beautiful Mind opens in cinemas nationwide on March 1st. The big star was on with us -- Russell Crowe on Steve Wright in the Afternoon.