Maximum Russell Crowe

The Crossing Interview At "The Crossing"
By Katherine Tulich
Movie (November/December 1990)

Russell Crowe, Robert Mammone and Danielle Spencer - Three Young Actors In Their First Major Movie Roles

Remember THE OUTSIDERS? It was Hollywood's introduction to the now-famous brat pack -- stars like Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon who all featured in the film. The new film, THE CROSSING, could very well be Australia's version of THE OUTSIDERS with a cast of bright young new Australian actors.

Set in a small NSW country town in the mid-1960s, THE CROSSING takes the tumultuous path of first love and its sometimes-disastrous effect on the young people involved.

Sam and Meg were in love, until Sam, for his own reasons, up and left town without a word. Broken-hearted Meg turns to Sam's best friend, Johnny, and their relationship grows until, one day, Sam returns. Now the three have to face their choices. "All the characters are equally important." said director, George Ogilvie, "so we had to carefully and gently draw the audience through their three lives and families."

In casting the roles, Ogilvie said: "I needed not only the right people for the roles, but people who could support each other throughout the shoot."

To choose the cast, Ogilvie carried out workshops for the actors. "He'd get a group of about 12 young people in a room, then he'd explain the situation and we played games and improvised," said Russell Crowe who was the first actor cast. "George asked me what role I would like and I chose Johnny because I felt his journey had far more emotional turns," he said.

Ogilvie applied the same method for rehearsals. "We had three weeks rehearsal, but, instead of blocking out the scenes, we just discussed things and played games, but in that time we had every single part of our character indelibly printed in our minds. We became the characters without having to speak the dialogue," said Crowe. 26-year-old Crowe, who has been nominated for a Best Actor award at this year's AFI Awards, has been acting since he was six when his parents were location caterers on the television series, "Spyforce".

Crowe made his feature film debut in BLOOD OATH opposite Bryan Brown. "I didn't have a lot of dialogue, but I was in many scenes. It gave me a chance to observe how Bryan Brown works. I was lucky to be working with someone with so much experience," he said.

When 25-year-old Robert Mammone got the role of Sam, he was pleasantly surprised. "I didn't think I'd have a chance of getting it. I didn't see myself in that role. I was just going for a supporting role," he said. "I was in the workshops and I was the oldest person there. They were trying to work out whether they wanted young actors or get older actors to play younger roles. They decided on actors who were a bit older because they felt the young actors didn't have the life experience."

Mammone, who was born in Adelaide, moved to Sydney six years ago to pursue acting. THE CROSSING is his first major film role.

Of the character of Sam, Mammone says: "I like his individualism. That's his strength. To actually get up and leave town and then to come back knowing there would be drama and ramifications, that took guts."

Playing the pivotal role of Meg, the love interest of both boys, is Danielle Spencer and, like the other actors, THE CROSSING is her first major role. Born into a showbusiness family -- her mother was a singer, and her father, Don Spencer, has made children's records and hosted "Playschool" for 18 years -- Spencer said she always knew she would be a performer. Studying dance, her first role after leaving school was in the short lived musical "Rasputin".

After reading the script of THE CROSSING, Spencer desperately wanted the role. I knew it was a great role and I was determined to get it," she said. "I liked the story, the fact that it was a love triangle set in the 60s, and my character has a lot of strength. On the one hand she was a real farm girl, an innocent leading a simple life, but emotionally she's more complicated -- decisions, especially when it comes to Johnny and Sam, are not cut and dried for her."

"Johnny's lovable and Sam's exciting, so it's a difficult choice for Meg," she said. "For Johnny, things are simple. He wants to marry Meg and that's it. He knows what he is about, but Sam is attractive because he is a dreamer." THE CROSSING is an impressive debut for all three actors, and they are bound to continue successful careers in the Australian film industry. (Thanks to Carolyn)

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