Russell Crowe on TV

|| Good Morning America (5/1/00) ||

Good Morning America
Interview with Diane Sawyer
Monday, May 1, 2000, New York

Diane Sawyer begins the interview with a fight scene from the film Gladiator (Russell fighting a gladiator and a tiger), then returns to introduce Russell.

Diane Sawyer: And joining us now, the Roman general himself, Russell Crowe. "Strength and honor" is his code... are these the kind of heroes you grew up loving? Is that why he mattered?

Russell Crowe: Well when I was a little kid you know, I didn't think in terms of realism when I wanted to become an actor. I thought in terms of Robin Hood and legendary figures, so it's taken me... uh, let's see my first job was in 1970, so it's taken me 30 years to play that kind of character...

DS: (laughing) So you were 6 years old?

RC: yeah, yeah, first time I did a TV show. But, yeah I mean, he's a sort of hero that uh, he's the sort of hero that all those, he's flawed, he's a beastial man, (short laugh) -- he'll cleave your arm off if that's what he's required to do...

DS: Heyyyy, details (sarcastically and laughing)

RC: (laughs)

DS: The fact is though, and you and I were talking about this, there's something about this that is an intensely moral experience in a way that you don't see in a lot of movies, particularly cyber-surrounded movies, in which this is a real man who had to do epicly courageous things and it's based, if not on history, it's based on an idea from Roman times.

RC: Well, it's a moment in history, but Maximus the character is completely fictional. But uh, the time and the setting and the political intrigue behind the story, that's all historically correct.

DS: You went, according to Ridley Scott, from a paunchy middle-aged man whom you were playing in "The Insider". Thirty-eight pounds later, you are "unfakeable male," I believe I read in one of the reviews. (Russell begins laughing.) What is "unfakeable maleness"? Is that just an "aussie bloke"?

RC: (still laughing) I'm not sure, it's somebody else's line.

DS: Is the physical part of this -- when you see this film, do you remember "physically" the pain of doing this movie? Because it seems that you were in endlessly difficult physical challenges.

RC: Yeah, it was, it was pretty intense. You know, the first battle sequence (video cuts to the battle scene) took place in about two foot of mud because it snowed the morning that we shot it so uh, trying to get around to 16, 17 different opponents -- you know with horses going past and catapults going off and dogs jumping through the frame and everthing -- was a little tricky.

And at one point in time there, you know, because of the mud, people were getting caught up and not actually hitting their marks. And the battle was over and the bodies were on the ground, and the steam's coming from the bodies (video returns to Russell) and everybody's sorta like heaving, that thing ... and I'm walking down through the bodies and just naturally all the other Roman soldiers sort of came to join Maximus, and it was like "wow, this a glorious moment!"

And through the middle of it, this one German extra, who'd missed his marks, he started running, trying to run past, and I was like (Russell makes a face like "I'm not having that!").. so I grabbed him cause I'm not going to let him get past me at that moment... I pulled him in front of me and he looks up at me with this plaintive voice, with his back to the camera, he goes:

Russell Crowe (Russell with an English accent pitches his voice very high, pantomimes this guy looking up at him, and says) "I'm not supposed to die yet"

(Russell then pantomimes himself as Maximus, looking down at the man, sticking his sword in him and throwing him aside... everyone in the studio breaks up laughing)

So, (laughing) there was a touch of Monty Python there...

DS: (still laughing a bit) Well, which brings me sort of indirectly to what we were talking about... in Time Magazine it says that you on the set were also "all warrior, hard-drinking perfectionist, re-writing the script on the spot." What is this about? What... is this 'temperament'? What is this?

RC: Well, it's about wanting to get things right. I mean, we went into this journey together, myself and Ridley, without a completed script, you know. But we had all the same scheduling pressures... but uh, normally, I'm very finicky about that, in terms of I've got to read the work that's been done on the page. You know, like a Michael Mann script, you know he's been working on it for five years, such as "The Insider", you know... But um, you know Dreamworks is a company that in their short history they are very well known for putting their money on the screen. Ridley is one of the great visual stylists of our time -- I mean, "Blade Runner", "the Alien" -- so if you're ever gonna take, you know, a leap of faith and get involved in something that's not quite completely right -- you know the time period and I get to wear all these flash clothes, I mean it's very hard to be masculine when you're running around in a skirt, but you know, I do my best. (everyone laughs again) And you know, um, it was just the right time to take that leap of faith, you know?

DS: So, when you wake up in the morning, do you say "I've got a hit, it's a sweet day"?

RC: I don't know about that yet, you know the film hasn't opened It's all very nice getting the reviews and everything...

DS: Are you superstitious?

RC: Yeah, absolutely, I'll just wait and see what happens.

DS:: Alright, I think, I think you're going to be happy. Russell Crowe, so good to see you.

RC: Nice talking to you.

DS: Great to have you here!

Russell Crowe

(All screen captures thanks to Neicie and transcript thanks to DRS)

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