Maximum Crowe

Proof Of Life: In Print


|| Fall Movie Preview (9/00) || December: POL (8/00) || POL Proves Dangerous (8/00) || Crowe Gets His Kicks (6/00) || Crowe pulls a stunt or two (5/00) || Life stand-in dies || Caruso on Comeback Trail (4/00) ||


Fall Movie Preview: Proof of Life
Premiere magazine (September 2000)

The Pitch: When an American engineer (David Morse) is taken hostage by guerrillas in Colombia, kidnap and ransom specialist Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) arrives to negotiate his release. During the five-month battle to free him, however, Thorne and the engineer's wife (Meg Ryan) engage in a soulful affair that will force her to choose between her husband and the man hired to save him.

The Big Picture: "Colombia is the kidnap capital of the world," says director Taylor Hackford (The Devil's Advocate), who elected to film much of the movie in the Ecuadorian mountains instead. Not that this didn't have its own obstacles: At least 20 people left the production because of altitude sickness, Morse (The Green Mile) says. "One big rugby-player guy got up to 14,000 feet and keeled right over. Of course," he adds wryly, "the people who smoke three packs of cigarettes a day and drink could handle it." Crowe, one of the hardier souls, even performed some of his own stunts. "Some people think hanging off a helicopter without safety line at 70 feet is grave danger," Crowe says. "But my attitude is, if you're concentrating, it's not." Inspired by a Vanity Fair article, the script, by Tony Gilroy (The Devil's Advocate), was written for Ryan, who received $15 million, her highest payday to date. Crowe, however, was the third choice for his role, behind Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford.

"Castle Rock wanted big stars," says Hackford, who was arguing for Crowe long before The Insider and Gladiator hit theaters. "Meg stepped up and said, 'I want to act with him.'" Says Crowe: "We're really enjoying doing the scenes together. This is wildly far from her romantic comedy work."

Tragically, Morse's stand-in, William Gaffney, was killed when a flatbed truck he was riding in went off a cliff during a seemingly routine shot in Ecuador. "The crew was devastated," says Morse, who had returned to the U.S. for a few days to attend to a family matter. None of them, however, felt the impact more than he did. "That would have been me," he says quietly. "That would have been me." (Warner Bros., December 15)

(Thanks to Wook-hee!).


December: Proof of Life
Entertainment Weekly (August 18, 2000)
Copyright 2000 Time Inc.

STARRING Russell Crowe, Meg Ryan, David Morse

SCREENPLAY BY Tony Gilroy

DIRECTED BY Taylor Hackford

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Crowe and Ryan smolder in a drama inspired by real life. Ironic, huh?

This story emanates out of a brand-new profession: the hostage negotiation business," says Hackford, who first read about the field in a 1998 Vanity Fair article. It's a growing one, too, driven by multinational corporations pushing into hot new markets with unstable political situations and putting employees at risk of kidnapping.

Hackford and his Devil's Advocate collaborator Gilroy optioned the article and fashioned a fictional story about an engineer (The Green Mile's Morse) who gets abducted while building a dam in South America. Ryan plays his unhappy wife who becomes even unhappier, while Crowe (using his Australian accent for a change) is the ultracool pro who helps. Things get complicated when he and Ryan begin to fall in love. (No comment from anyone about Crowe and Ryan really falling in love on the set.) Hackford had the role written especially for Ryan (who reportedly landed a $15 million payday), and after getting a look at The Insider and Gladiator, he cast Crowe.

Breaking out big time, however, could be Morse, who got kidnap-victim gaunt on a diet prepared by the doctor who thinned down Tom Hanks for Cast Away. More difficult, though, was dealing with the death of his stand-in, Will Gaffney, who was killed in a freak accident that injured five others while shooting last April. "Whatever your faith is, it rocks it," says Morse, who credits Gaffney's family for encouraging cast and crew to soldier on. "I don't know if fond is the right word to describe my memories of making this film, but they certainly have real meaning."

GOOD SIGN Crowe, in action hero mode, couldn't be hotter. Shot in Ecuador, England, and Poland, Proof's sure to feel epic.

THEN AGAIN Having just wrapped, Hackford admits he'll have to hustle to meet his release date.


Proof of Life Proves Dangerous
By Jane Ciabattari
Parade Magazine (August 13, 2000)

David Morse-best known as Dr. Jack Morrison on the TV series St. Elsewhere-plays a man who's kidnapped in Latin America and held for ransom in the film Proof of Life, based on a true story. The cast crew shot in Ecuador for 3 1/2 months this year and encountered some of the dangers faced by the real-life hostage. There had just been a coup, and the filmmakers received military protection because of fears that Colombian guerrillas would cross the border.

"It got pretty tense," Morse told us. "There was a lot of criminal activity along the coast. And the Indians involved in the coup gave the country until July to straighten things out, and we got out just before the deadline. (Filming resumed in London.) The man I play in the film made a wrong turn on his way to work and was stopped by car thieves. Because he was an American, they thought he was valuable and sold him."

Meg Ryan is Morse's wife in the film, and Russell Crowe plays a hostage negotiator. (Asked about the pair's offscreen relationship, Morse told us: "I was shocked to hear about it. I didn't have a clue.")

Proof of Life is due out in December. In the meantime, David Morse will appear in the films Bait and Dancer in the Dark, both scheduled for release next month.

(Thanks to Thomas!)



Photos: OHLA! (France, January 1, 2001)
(Thanks to Sandrine)

Russell does soccer
(Photo: Express Syndication, People Magazine 10/9/00)

Crowe gets his kicks in at international match
By Jeannie Williams
USA Today (June 7, 2000)

Russell Crowe takes no prisoners in Gladiator, but his team got thumped in the soccer match he organized on the Proof of Life location in Ecuador.

Meg Ryan and David Caruso cheered from the sidelines Sunday at the Liga Country Club on the outskirts of Quito, as the Ecuador team beat the players Crowe dubbed the ''Rest of the World,'' 6-1. Twenty-one countries are represented among the 195 cast and crew, which is about half Ecuadoran, on this truly international set. David Morse, who plays Ryan's kidnapped husband in the Castle Rock thriller, was on the field with Crowe for the game.

And it was for a good cause: 200 children were bused from the Mi Caleta Orphanage to see the match and enjoy a picnic with music, balloons, burgers and a crew member dressed as Barney. Adults had to pay for the food, and a raffle offered a jersey worn by Crowe and soccer balls autographed by him and Ryan. All this raised $15,000 for the orphanage.

Caruso kept undercover as he watched because the redhead is sun-sensitive. His wife, Margaret, has been on the location with him, helping rub in that sunscreen.

It has been a tough shoot in rain and mud, with drives six days a week into the rain forest outside Quito, but Crowe is quite the hero for keeping up morale, I'm told. The rain has held up the schedule a bit, but it's expected by June 14 they'll be headed for London to finish the film, directed by Taylor Hackford, in which Crowe plays a kidnap-ransom expert hunting for Morse, with an assist from Caruso.


Crowe pulls a stunt or two
By Jeannie Williams
USA Today (May 17, 2000)

Russell Crowe is hot, and director Taylor Hackford's got him.

The Gladiator star's box office boom continues, but he is far from the main arena, making Proof of Life outside Quito, Ecuador, with Meg Ryan, David Morse and David Caruso.

Sunday, he got UIP, the distributor, to screen Gladiator for Hackford's international, half Ecuadorean crew. "He can ask for anything at this point!" says Hackford (but Crowe paid for the theater). "It's escapist. You need that in the middle of a film. Afterwards, Russell hosted them with food and drink as a thank-you. It was incredibly gracious of him."

Hackford is having a "fantastic experience" with the sometimes-volatile Aussie actor. As usual, Crowe has thrown himself into his role - a hostage negotiator, doing at least one major stunt, dangling from a helicopter.

Chatting on his cell as he drove into the jungle for the day's shoot, Hackford says, "We committed to Crowe long before there was any heat on Gladiator or The Insider." Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson were talked of, but Crowe's agent called to say he loved the part.

Hackford (The Devil's Advocate, Dolores Claiborne) and creative partner Tony Gilroy wrote the movie for Ryan, who has a major role as the wife of a man kidnapped by guerrillas, played by Morse, who also has a rough part. Hackford checked out Crowe with Ridley Scott, Gladiator director, when that was still being edited. "DreamWorks said derogatory things about (Crowe) as an individual; they're thrilled now."

"Ridley had a tough time, but his response was, 'Russell is difficult, he has a specific mind of his own, but he is a movie star.' And Ridley has worked with a lot of them."

Hackford credits Castle Rock prez Martin Shafer with "guts" for going with Crowe. As for Ryan: "She could have said, 'I won't work with him,' but she said, 'Brilliant idea.'"

Crowe liked the role because it gives him a chance to play an Australian after eight films doing American or British accents. You might think he had enough of getting physical in Gladiator. For the Proof opening sequence with a chopper, shot in Poland, stuntmen were standing by, but Hackford says Crowe told him that if his face was in the scene, "I'm doing it myself. I'd rather this be real and the audience know it's me."

Crowe has "worked a long time to arrive at the moment when he's blossoming, all his training and discipline come into play. He has an opportunity now to do films he has wanted to for a long time. There's a hunger there," Hackford says. "I have nothing bad to say about the guy. We talk through it.... When somebody delivers the goods, understands the character, what more can you ask?"

Proof of Life, to Hackford, is a scenario that could happen to many people today as businesses expand around the globe. Ryan and Morse are married Americans "whose lives are ripped asunder by a situation." And it's a chance for Hackford, who was in the Peace Corps in Bolivia, to return to South America to show audiences its stunning visual variety.


Life stand-in dies in Ecuador
By David Robb
The Hollywood Reporter (April 11, 2000)

LOS ANGELES A stand-in for actor David Morse was killed and five extras were injured Sunday outside Quito, Ecuador, when their pickup truck plunged off a mountain road during second unit photography on Castle Rocks Proof of Life.

Will Gaffney, 29, an American teacher living in Ecuador who had been hired as a stand-in for Morse, was killed when the Chevy pickup veered off the road and plummeted down a 150-foot cliff.

A Castle Rock statement said that trained first-aid practitioners were on the set and revived one of the injured passengers, but Mr. Gaffney did not respond to CPR treatment.

The five injured extras all Ecuadorians were taken by ambulance to a hospital in Quito. All are reported to be in stable condition.

The accident occurred on a winding mountain road near the Ecuador capital. The truck carrying Gaffney and the extras was following a camera truck when it suddenly veered to the left and drove off the cliff.

We are all deeply pained by the tragic loss of Will Gaffney, and the production is doing everything possible for his wife and family, said Taylor Hackford, the films director.

Hackford, who was not present when the accident occurred, said the scene was not a stunt and the truck was going only about 15 miles per hour when it inexplicably rolled off the cliff. Production sources say that the accident happened during the fifth take of what was planned as a routine driving shot.

There are many stunts in this picture and those shots are always performed by qualified stuntmen, Hackford said. This was not a stunt, simply an ordinary driving shot of a truck going less than 15 miles per hour on a mountain road. The weather and circumstances were perfect. No one, at this time, has any idea what happened other than to say it was a freak accident.

Second unit photography was suspended after the accident, but first unit photography continued in Quito. None of the films stars were present when the accident occurred.

The film stars Morse as an American businessman who is kidnapped in Colombia. A professional hostage negotiator (Russell Crowe) works with the businessmans wife (Meg Ryan) to free him.

The five injured extras four men and a woman were playing the role of kidnappers.

"The police are investigating the accident," Castle Rock spokeswoman Paulette Osorio said. "They were brought in from the very beginning, which is pretty standard procedure in Ecuador."


Accident Kills One and Injures Five During 2nd Unit Filming of "Proof of Life"
SOURCE: Castle Rock Entertainment

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., April 10 -- An accident during 2nd unit filming of Proof of Life resulted in one fatality and five injuries on Sunday, April 9 at 8:15 AM outside of Quito, Ecuador. Fatally injured was actor David Morses stand-in and photo double, Will Gaffney.

The films director, Taylor Hackford stated, We are all deeply pained by the tragic loss of Will Gaffney and the production is doing everything possible for his wife and family.

Hackford continued, There are many stunts in this picture and those shots are always performed by qualified stuntmen. This was not a stunt, simply an ordinary driving shot of a truck going less than 15 mph on a mountain road. The weather and circumstances were perfect. No one, at this time, has any idea what happened other than to say it was a freak accident. Trained first aid practitioners were on the set and revived one of the injured passengers, but Mr. Gaffney did not respond to CPR treatment. None of the films principal actors were involved in the mishap.

The production began filming in Ecuador in early March and has been shooting in Quito and outlying cities for the last month.


Caruso on Comeback Trail With 'Proof of Life'
By Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith
(April 10, 2000)

David Caruso credits filmmaker Taylor Hackford for the fact hes on the comeback trail with a co-starring slot beside Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe in the feature Proof of Life.

Notes Caruso, who recently left for the Ecuador location of the thriller, I worked with Taylor on An Officer and a Gentleman years ago, and he was kind enough to consider me for this.

Caruso, of course, has starred in a number of disappointments (the big-screen Jade, the small-screen Michael Hayes), and has piled up a collection of Bungled Career stories since his acrimonious departure from NYPD Blue.

But now, it appears things are on the upswing. Hes got the upcoming TNT movie Deadlocked, with Charles Dutton, thats been getting positive buzz. And theres Proof of Life, which Caruso describes as the world of kidnap-and-ransom. There are multinational companies that deal with this dilemma -- all around the world, the kidnapping of top corporate executives. There are insurance policies in place to pay ransoms. Their operatives are multitalented, most have military backgrounds -- its a real, highly charged world.

He and Crowe play such operatives, Ryan is the wife of a kidnap victim in the movie.

David was in training for Proof of Life for six weeks -- not only working himself into top shape physically, but working with weapons experts Scotty Reeves and Brett McQueen, and the L.A. Metro Squad.


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