Crowe Denies Fallout 2/20/05 || Peril of Star Power (2/19/05) || Nothing To Crowe About (2/15/05) || From Go to No (2/18/05) || Pic Falls In Oz (2/13/05) || Production Postponed (2/10/05) || Fox Searchlight Press Release (2/1/05) || Kidman Plants Roots (Hollywood Reporter 10/16/04) || Hollywood Reporter (7/19/04) || Crowe Climbs 'Eucalyptus' (Variety 7/18/04) ||
Crowe Denies Fallout With Weaving
By SANDRA LEE
The Sunday Telegraph
February 20, 2005
OSCAR winner Russell Crowe says he has no ill-will towards co-star Hugo Weaving over his claim Crowe was responsible for the collapse of the film Eucalyptus.
In the aftermath of the delay of the $32 million production last week, Weaving expressed surprise at comments by Crowe that the script needed work, saying he thought it "was a gem".
"I don't have a problem with Hugo venting," Crowe said in an e-mail to The Sunday Telegraph.
"I agree with most of what he said. I fell in love with a magical and mysterious script by Michelle Joyner and (director) Jocelyn Moorhouse 14 months ago."
Crowe also reaffirmed his dedication to the movie and answered accusations that he was responsible for the delay, didn't want to be outshone by his co-stars and wanted to direct the film.
"Oh for goodness sake, what next? Perhaps I wanted to play Nicole's role as well? Yes, that must be it; Crowe needed nicer skirts," he said.
"If I've tried to change anything it has been the desire to change things * what could be the word * a reversionist? When I came on board to play a minor role, in a specified amount of weeks, it all seemed quite simple.
"However, from that seed strange growths appeared in the script; at one of the many narrative junctures I was taken aback at the addition of a scene requiring me to expose my penis to the young Queen Elizabeth."
Crowe also denied claims he wanted to direct the film.
"No, I'm not the director, I am the executive producer of a floundered project that will take all the passionate advocacy I can muster to convince the powers-that-be to remount. The craftsmanship alone in the house set at Bellingen is enough to embolden my heart to face the accountants."
Fox Searchlight Pictures, which is backing the film, issued a statement this week denying it was Crowe's decision. "We reiterate that postponement was a collective decision made by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Uberto Pasolini," Fox Searchlight Pictures president Peter Rice said in a statement.
Nothing to Crowe About
Sydney Morning Herald
February 19, 2005
The set just wasn't big enough for Jocelyn Moorhouse and Russell Crowe. Tony Davis and Alexa Moses report on a personality clash fuelled by creative tension.
In one version, it's the tale of a likeable and talented female director, Jocelyn Moorhouse, who produced a beautiful script from a prize-winning book, only to be bullied by a male star whose ego was out of control and who thought he knew better at every turn.
In a different telling, there's an under-prepared director who was handed a dream opportunity - Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe starring opposite each other for the first time ever - yet managed to bring it all undone through indecisiveness and preciousness.
Despite everybody in the film industry energetically discussing the dramatic scuttling of the biggest and most exciting Australian film in years, no insider will go on the record with precise details. The principals have clammed up and the rest with first-hand knowledge are bound by Hollywood confidentiality clauses or the fear that with the local industry so small and opportunities so few, it would be professional suicide.
A longtime film worker told the Herald: "These people can crush you for 100 years. They'll follow you for generations."
However, by speaking with a large number of people working in and around the project the Herald has formed a strong picture of how it all went wrong. It is a story of strong personalities and wasted opportunities, but more than anything it supports co-star Hugo Weaving's view that it was an "avoidable tragedy".
In some eyes, the problems started 14 years ago when Moorhouse and Crowe crossed swords during the making of Proof. Moorhouse reprimanded Crowe for his behaviour during a love scene, in which a young actress complained she felt he was forceful to the point she was frightened. Crowe proved to have a long memory.
Moorhouse was nervous this time around, when Crowe - the previous occasion an unknown, now one of the world's most bankable stars - was brought in, or imposed on her.
With Crowe came the surety of Fox Searchlight funding, but a film with Crowe in it becomes a Russell Crowe film, and a studio will defend his interests above all else. That's how the star system works, and Eucalyptus proved to be no exception.
Moorhouse became even more concerned when Kidman also was cast, transforming a small, gentle "director's film" into a double-bunger star vehicle thatwould require substantial changes.
How Crowe's additional billing as executive producer was sold to Moorhouse is unclear. It was believed by many that it was merely a mechanism for giving Crowe a slice of the pie bigger than the $US500,000 ($634,800) salary limit placed by Fox Searchlight, effectively Fox's arthouse label. However, Crowe took the title literally, exploiting the rights the position held in terms of control over script and other elements.
It says something that within four days of the first full read-through Moorhouse felt sufficiently bullied, abused and distanced from a project that she had laboured over for years to tender her resignation. Fox insisted she had to continue, though rumours spread among the crew that Gillian Armstrong was to be drafted in her place.
Some of those at the original read-through believe Crowe had never properly read the script and had a crisis of confidence when he realised it was a very static role. His voice dropped away so much that most could not hear him and he skipped parts and changed some of the words - something considered disrespectful to a writer.
Crowe produced a flurry of 11th-hour script suggestions, perhaps to beef up his part and improve the action elements of a role presented partly in voice-over and only really pieced together at the end. And Crowe's recommendations were not offered gently.
Others insist Crowe had no choice. They say he had been complaining about the script since he first came on board and had been assured his concerns would be addressed. He even skipped costume meetings in late 2004 on the basis that if the script wasn't ready there was no point.
It's not the first time Crowe has flared up over scripts, most famously with Gladiator. However, it is also true that Crowe's films are notable for their broad range. He doesn't shy from a challenge.
There were meetings between Crowe and Moorhouse and other parties. Reports of heated exchanges between Crowe and Moorhouse filtered out. Crowe allegedly made pointed references to the love scene from Proof, reigniting the tensions of 14 years earlier.
There was a very strongly worded email too, sent to Moorhouse but cc'ed to people at Fox. An insider insists it included the line "I am a Ferrari, you're just a VW."
But the idea that these were the first problems, or that Moorhouse is a guiltless victim doesn't wash with everyone.
A senior crew member told the Herald: "Yes, Crowe was heavy-handed, but that's Crowe. And he may have good reason, you've got to consider that, he may have smelt that she wasn't up to the job.
"She could never make her mind up about anything when asked for direction. She had two standard answers: 'I'll think about it', which meant nothing would happen, or she would give you a concrete answer, which meant she would change her mind the next day."
The changes of mind were attributed by some to Moorhouse's husband and creative soulmate, writer/director husband P.J.Hogan (Muriel's Wedding, Peter Pan). Although not officially involved, he was thought to be a major player behind the scenes, encouraging his wife to stand her ground on "her film".
Moorhouse fought doggedly for her vision to prevail, but found producer Uberto Pasolini and Fox Searchlight siding with Crowe at all crucial times.
Crowe has copped the most flak, and few believe he is anything less than a contributor to the breakdown.
But his supporters point out the film had already been postponed twice last year. Fox Searchlight executives, including its president Peter Rice, spent January in Australia trying to iron out problems. They should have been at the Sundance Film Festival and, in what is the height of the Oscar season, out and about
lobbying for their other films such as Sideways. So there were clearly major difficulties, though they weren't only about the script.
Indeed, an influential industry figure who read the original script tells the Herald it was enjoyable and the makings of a "great film". He says the later version was still very good, though he preferred the earlier.
However, a good movie takes more than a workable script. It takes a director who can assert absolute authority, while both tethering and inspiring an egotistical, bombastic and frequently brilliant character such as Crowe.
Moorhouse, it seems, never managed to achieve that authority. She never clicked with Crowe, never won his respect and took creative arguments - never far from the surface in a big star film - personally.
Said an insider: "She is a non-confrontational person. She's not a big enough ego for him. He lost respect for her early on."
By one account Crowe was first to tell Fox Searchlight it all had to stop, but by another, Kidman walked first.
"He [Crowe] was constantly wanting Jocelyn to rewrite things and change things and Jocelyn consistently tried to meet everything that he wanted," a Eucalyptus actor told the Herald. "I know that she did a number of rewrites."
By this account Crowe eventually fronted up with his own version of his script and announced "this is the new script".
"Kidman looked pale, paler than she always looks, because she loves Jocelyn's script. That's what she wants to do and I gathered that she said to Jocelyn that you have got to stop him."
The studio supported Crowe, Kidman left in an agitated state saying she would not return (though it appears she did return) and Moorhouse attempted to tender her resignation. It was not accepted.
So where does it go from here? If Eucalyptus is ever made, it will almost certainly not be with the current principals, despite statements from Fox
Crowe visited the set for the first time during the week and may yet star in it. Suggestions he wants to direct - which originated within the crew nearly two weeks ago and were reported by the Herald - have been denied by his representative in Australia and the US.
Crowe says he is determined to make the film. His ego and love of a challenge are such that he very likely will. Kidman's official line is that she is still keen to make the film, but few believe she will.
One industry source told the Herald Moorhouse will have burned many Hollywood bridges by standing her ground against a star such as Crowe. In the minds of the studio people, it will be solely her fault the film has come to a halt.
Yet it started as a small film for Moorhouse to write and direct; and now she doesn't even own the scripts she wrote. And what may have made a beautiful little film, may yet turn out to be nothing at all.
Additional reporting by Angela Bennie.
From Go to No
Feb 18, 2005
Sydney Morning Herald
1991 Jocelyn Moorhouse is writer/director and Russell Crowe second male lead in Proof. There is tension between them, but the film is a huge success.
1998 Eucalyptus, a novel by Murray Bail, is published.
1999 Eucalyptus wins the Miles Franklin Award and Uberto Pasolini, producer of The Full Monty (1997), takes out a film option.
2000-03 Pasolini takes the project to Fox Searchlight, which provides development funding. He selects Moorhouse from a shortlist of suitable directors.
2004 Pasolini recruits Crowe, at which point Fox agrees to fund the film (the budget is about $20 million). Moorhouse is worried about working with Crowe, and about a "small film" becoming a star vehicle. Seeks advice from Peter Weir and others who have worked with Crowe more recently. Not happy, but decides to proceed. Crowe is to play Holland, father of the female lead, 19-year-old Ellen.
September 2004 Still no female lead and filming due to start in October near Bellingen, northern NSW. The team wants an Australian, preferably unknown. Abbie Cornish auditions twice, but turns the part down. Scarlet Johansson and Ron Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, are considered.
October 2004 Filming due to start but still no female lead. Film canned, crew sacked. Crowe brings in Kidman mid-month. She is 37. The crew is rehired, the film rescheduled. Crowe switches to the role of the storyteller (Kidman's love interest), Geoffrey Rush takes the father role and Hugo Weaving is suitor Roy Cave. Moorhouse's script needs to be rewritten to make the lead female role "thirtysomething".
November 2004 Filming due to start but canned because script not ready. Jack Thompson replaces Geoffrey Rush.
January 2005 Fox Searchlight president Peter Rice and another executive fly to Australia to iron out problems. Everything running late, still no rehearsals despite filming now due to start on January 31.
January 31 (Monday) Filming officially delayed a week. First full read-through. Crowe initially dominates proceedings. Cast of 14 disperses, most never to be called back.
February 1 (Tuesday) Further readings involving Crowe, Kidman, Thompson and Weaving. Crowe wants changes to script. Moorhouse attempts to accommodate him - up to a point.
February 2 (Wednesday) Crowe demands further changes to script, and by one account brings in his own revised version and announces, "This is what we are now doing."
February 3 (Thursday) Moorhouse decides to tender resignation from project.
February 4 (Friday) Fox Searchlight refuses resignation, telling Moorhouse it will sue if she doesn't continue. About this time, Crowe tells Fox Searchlight the project is not ready.
February 7 (Monday) Moorhouse in bed with flu. Planned on-set filming postponed. Delay blamed on weather.
February 9 (Wednesday) Filming again officially postponed until next Monday. Delay again blamed on weather. Rumours among crew that Moorhouse is off the production - and possibly Kidman, too.
February 11 (Friday) Sydney crew told that production is postponed indefinitely.
Searchlight Pulling Up Its 'Eucalyptus'
Kidman, Crowe Pic Falls In Oz
By Claude Brodesser
Variety, Feb. 13, 2005
Production on Jocelyn Moorhouse pic "Eucalyptus" -- in which her fellow Aussies Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman were to topline -- has been postponed indefinitely, Fox Searchlight announced Thursday, just three days before principal photography was to start.
In a statement, the studio explained that "in order for Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman to be a part of this low-budget Australian production, there was a small window within which both were available. Pre-production elements were accelerated to try to meet this opening, but unfortunately the time was not sufficient. Searchlight plans to remount the film when schedules permit."
Searchlight topper Peter Rice has spent much of this year in Australia dealing with the problematic pic; his absence has been keenly felt. Searchlight, coming off its best year ever, was out of the hunt at one of the most commercial Sundance film fests in years. Rice also has been noticeably absent this Academy Award season, one in which Searchlight's hit comedy "Sideways" is thought to be in serious contention for picture, screenplay and acting Oscars.
It now appears his effort was for naught. The likelihood of remounting the pic with the same cast anytime soon -- or ever -- is slim to none. Crowe will embark on a global PR push for Universal's "Cinderella Man" this spring. And Kidman is committed to promoting U's "The Interpreter" in March and Columbia's "Bewitched" in June before appearing in Wong Kar-wai's "The Lady From Shanghai," which lenses in Hong Kong this summer.
"After consulting with all the creative elements involved in 'Eucalyptus,' " Rice said, "we have collectively agreed that the screenplay is not where we need it to be. For that reason, we are postponing the production."
However, numerous other production sources indicated that Moorhouse and Crowe, also an executive producer, had substantial creative differences that gave the studio misgivings about proceeding with Moorhouse at the helm. The pair have a history dating back to Crowe's breakout hit, "Proof," in 1991.
(Michaela Boland in Sydney and Dana Harris in Hollywood contributed to this report.)
EUCALYPTUS Production Postponed
Feb. 10, 2005
SYDNEY, Australia---Fox Searchlight Pictures announced today that production on EUCALYPTUS has been postponed to allow time for further work on the script. In order for Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman to be a part of this low-budget Australian production, there was a small window within which both were available. Pre-production elements were accelerated to try to meet this opening, but unfortunately the time was not sufficient. Searchlight plans to remount the film when schedules permit.
Said Fox Searchlight Pictures President Peter Rice: "After consulting with all the creative elements involved in EUCALYPTUS, we have collectively agreed that the screenplay is not where we need it to be. For that reason, we are postponing the production."
The creative forces behind this film, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, writer/director Jocelyn Moorhouse and producer Uberto Pasolini, issued the following statement: "Despite everyone's efforts during recent days and weeks, the script of EUCALYPTUS needs more work. Unfortunately our availability prohibits us from completing this work at this time. Therefore, we have agreed that the best thing to do is to postpone shooting until the project's foundation is solid. The postponement in no way lessens our passion to bring Murray Bail's beautiful Australian novel to the big screen. We would like to thank and acknowledge the combined efforts of the cast and crew that have readied the picture to this point. We are confident that when the time is right this extraordinarily talented and dedicated Australian production team will once again find a way to be on board."
Fox Searchlight Pictures is a filmmaker-oriented company that focuses on distinctive films helmed by world-class auteurs and exciting newcomers. It has its own marketing and distribution operations and its films are distributed internationally by Twentieth Century Fox. Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group.
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM FOX SEARCHLIGHT
"Hollywood--Feb. 1, 2005--Fox Searchlight Pictures announced that production will begin February 7 on EUCALYPTUS, a sweepingly imaginative fairy tale about love and life in Australia, starring an Aussie cast led by Oscar(R) winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, and Australian Film Institute Award winners Jack Thompson and Hugo Weaving. Based on the New York Times Notable Book of the Year of the same name written by Murray Bail, the film will be directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse from a screenplay she penned. It is produced by Uberto Pasolini (THE FULL MONTY) and Lynda House (MURIELS WEDDING) and executive produced by Crowe.
"Said Russell Crowe of joining with the Australian filmmakers and cast: 'With the help of a few friends we envision this movie as a line in the sand, a statement of power through ensemble and therefore of greater impetus to the industry in general. Per capita, Australians and New Zealanders have made an enormous contribution to world cinema. We fight above our weight. This project will prove to our aspiring writers that an Australian director using Australian actors can use international funding to tell an Australian story.'
" 'I feel very lucky to be working with these extraordinary actors on such a uniquely Australian love story,' Director/Writer Jocelyn Moorhouse added. 'When I worked with Russell on PROOF, I was amazed by his powers as an actor and I cant wait to work with him again. Nicole has done brilliant work in overseas movies these last few years and Im looking forward to working with her in a beautiful Australian setting.'
"In a world where life and love are fragile, a widower named Holland (Jack Thompson) plants hundreds of eucalyptuses as a memorial to his wife. Living in this man-made forest, hidden away from prying eyes, is Hollands beautiful and mysterious daughter Ellen (Nicole Kidman). Over the years, men have tried to woo Ellen, to no avail. One day, Holland realizes he can no longer keep Ellen hidden, and devises a seemingly impossible competition -- the man who can name all 800 eucalyptuses on Hollands property, by sight, will win his daughters hand in marriage. Men come from all over the land to try their luck. As a brilliant, dashing botanist (Hugo Weaving) approaches the finishing line, Ellen finds herself drawn to a mysterious stranger (Russell Crowe) whose stories of far away places take root in her soul.
" 'It has long been a dream of mine to come home to make a film telling a uniquely Australian story,' said Nicole Kidman. 'To be able to do so with my good friend Russell makes EUCALYPTUS extra special. Jocelyn Moorhouse has written a beautiful script -- a story of love and devotion -- which I am sure has universal appeal. This will be a wonderful collaboration of Australian talent.'
". . . EUCALYPTUS will be shot in Australia by Director of Photography Mandy Walker (SHATTERED GLASS, LANTANA). Both the production and costumes will be designed by three-time Oscar nominee Janet Patterson (OSCAR AND LUCINDA, THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY, THE PIANO)."
Kidman plants roots for lead in 'Eucalyptus'
By Bec Smith
The Hollywood Reporter, Oct. 16, 2004
SYDNEY -- Nicole Kidman is confirmed to star in "Eucalyptus" opposite Russell Crowe, with shooting due to begin in February, according to sources. The role came to Kidman after topliner Crowe was reportedly unhappy with the options for his leading lady and asked that his good friend be approached.
The casting may require some rewriting because in the Murray Bail novel of the same name, 37-year-old Kidman's character is only 19. In the adaptation, a widower (Geoffrey Rush) plants hundreds of varieties of eucalyptus trees and then decrees that only a man who can name every one of them may marry his daughter Ellen (Kidman). Although a number of suitors appear, she falls for a storytelling stranger who shares with her tales of faraway lands.
The film is being directed by Jocelyn Moorehouse, written by Michelle Joyner and Moorehouse, with Uberto Pasolini and Lynda House producing. Fox Searchlight Pictures is financing and distributing.
Kidman recently wrapped the "The Interpreter," opposite Sean Penn, for director Sydney Pollack and is starring with Will Ferrell in the Nora Ephron-directed "Bewitched." (Thanks to the Chedge)
Crowe Climbs 'Eucalyptus'
Novel adaptation flowers on thesp
By Michael Fleming
Variety, July 18, 2004
Russell Crowe is in talks to star for Fox Searchlight in "Eucalyptus," a Jocelyn Moorehouse-directed adaptation of the Murray Bail novel.
The book is a popular fable set in South Wales, where a widower announces his beautiful daughter can marry only the man who can identify each of the hundreds of species of eucalyptus trees overwhelming the grounds of his estate.
However, the daughter has become smitten with a mysterious New Zealander who has enchanted her with a tale to correspond with each eucalyptus tree.
Crowe would play the storyteller.
Moorehouse, who directed Crowe in 1991's "Proof," rewrote the most recent draft of the script.
Crowe is playing Depression-era fighter Jim Braddock in "Cinderella Man" for Universal, Miramax and Imagine.
By LIZA FOREMAN and BEC SMITH
The Hollywood Reporter
July 19, 2004
Russell Crowe is going back to his roots. The Oscar-winning actor is in negotiations to topline the big-screen adaptation of Australian author Murray Bails award-winning novel "Eucalyptus." The project would reunite Crowe with director Jocelyn Moorhouse, for whom he starred in 1991s "Proof." Michelle Joyner adapted the book and wrote the original screenplay, with Moorhouse coming in to work on the script.
Set in New South Wales, Australia, Bails fairy tale-like story tells of a man, his daughter and the stranger (Crowe) who whisks her off her feet. The father plants hundreds of varieties of eucalyptus trees and then decrees that only a man who can name every one of them may have his daughters hand in marriage. Although a number of suitors appear, his daughter falls for a storytelling stranger who shares with her tales of faraway lands. "Eucalyptus" won numerous prizes, including the 1999 Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Miles Franklin Award.
Crowe, who next appears in "The Cinderella Man," recently appeared in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World." He took home his best actor Oscar in 2001 for "Gladiator."
Moorhouses directing credits include "How to Make an American Quilt" and "A Thousand Acres."
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