(Formerly The Russell Crowe Trivia Page)
The following material comes from David Crowe, the athlete and journalist extraordinaire who also happens to be Russell's uncle. We'd like to extend our warmest thanks to Dave for sharing it with us.
Down To His Fingertips || CCC Crowe XI || A Day on the Set || Dinner with Derek
Down To His Fingertips
by Dave Crowe (2/99)
My nephew Russell Crowe is an actor to the very tips of his fingers. I've only known him for 34 years and in that time has he turned on some performances! One time was when aged 12 he voluntarily umpired for our Dad's Army cricket team at Cornwall Park. The opposition so feared for my survival they demanded he be replaced on the grounds he was too young. I was so mad I swatted 30 off the first over. Russell rolled on the ground in delight.
He has been acting since age 5 when he "helped" Mum and Dad on the film sets while they were caterers to the movie industry in Sydney. Russell's grandfather was the celebrated film maker and photographer Stan Wemyss who among his many fame claims worked with me on the very first Biro TV commercial in 1959. I wrote it, he shot it. It was a ten-second commercial with no dialogue. Took some writing!
Russell has worked in twenty feature films now and earned many plaudits as a genuine actor. He also fronts a rock band, Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts, who have now sold 35,000 CD's purely through a website advertisement. Russell likes to write his own songs, including a number titled Dave that sounds suspiciously familiar.
Presently he is shooting The Gladiator in England, apart from a three week stint on location in Morocco where they are virtually incommunicado. Even the cell phones don't work there. He had to put on 40 pounds to play a 53-year-old in Man of the People, a film about the tobacco industry and how to make safe smokes. I could have told him that thirty years ago! Smoke a pipe, don't inhale.
Before that he was working with Burt Reynolds in Mystery, Alaska where he had to learn to play ice hockey. What an education! He has learned to ride, swim, shoot, play ice hockey, kiss Sharon Stone and now he wants to play John McEnroe in a movie so he can find how to beat me at tennis.
He's a great lad, Russell, no illusions about himself but living life to the full. He deserves to. As a perfectionist he goes to enormous trouble to complete his characterisations, and that is a major secret in his success. I'm looking forward to our next adventure together. Probably sharing a Chateau Lautour.
CCC Crowe XI
Dave Crowe was kind enough to pass on some information about the cricket match organized by Russell during Gladiator filming in Malta. Dave and his sons Martin and Jeff had to visit Europe for media work at the World Cup in England, so the family decided to have a mini-reunion. However, the two days of playing turned out to be a thrashing of "Crowe's Cricketing Cronies."
The event was instigated by our very own favorite gladiator, Russell, who saw the opportunity for a cricket contest in the best traditions of the Coliseum.. A challenge was issued to pit the crew of the film against the Maltese team from the Marsa Sports & Country Club. Russell assumed by bringing in his cousins Martin and Jeff as ringers it would be no contest. (As all of our faithful readers know, Martin and Jeff are world-famous players from New Zealand.) The rest of the Crowes on the team included Russellís dad, Alex, his brother, Terry, and of course our dear friend Dave (Russellís uncle).
Also recruited for the game were wicket-keeper Robin Demetriou, David Kent-Watson and old family friend Steve Wilkins from New Zealand. Wally Glynn, the oldest active international player in the world at 69, was retained as official umpire in the deathless contest.
Politics entered the game in the form of Angelo and Frank Spiteri, who were invited to play for the CCC. The brothers had recently formed the Melita Cricket Club, a rival to the 120-year-old Marsa. It seems the Marsa Club denied their registration, so the duo found a proper place to create their own organization. The site is on an old army barracks, and the Spiteris spent countless hours leveling and clearing the outfield in order to form the Melita.
The Crowes' athleticism was in full force during the first match, at Marsa. Martin dominated play early in the match, with the Spiteris and Jeff also displaying keen cricketing skills. At one point, Russell overestimated his cousin's speed as well as his brother's, in what Dave described as "a frenzy of fraternalism." Russell's demise saw the CCC suddenly reduced to 128 for five at lunch. Later, Dave lasted for nine overs without hitting the ball off the square while the team added 26. It was a close match, with the CCC eventually losing by just three wickets. Overall, everyone looked sharp, and umpire Glynn had to issue some stern warnings about the constant needling among the players.
The next day at Melita saw the largest crowd ever known to have watched cricket in Malta, including a large contingent from the Gladiator set. It was a gala occasion, complete with a string quartet, much wining and feasting, and lots of cheers for the actors playing in the match.
Russell and brother Terry got things started. Demetriou showed off his prowess, diving wide and low to his right to make a spectacular catch. At one point in the game the Spiteri brothers together added a quick 79. But then there was a family dispute over field placings, which did nothing for CCC morale.
Things took a downturn when Jeff took charge. He was eventually run out, but not before thrice losing balls into the wilderness beyond the playing field. Russell was left to lead the drive, but one too many of his splendid hooks and pulls got him dismissed for second top score. The Melitans ended up winning their first ever match by 48 runs.
Even though his team lost, Dave says a grand time was had by everyone, even the youngest of the bunch. The contest was a great coup for the fledgling Melita Cricket Club. And it surely boosted enthusiasm for cricket in this small corner of the world.
Watch for Dave's full report, "Malta's Cricketers Repel the Infidels," in Cricketer International Magazine, coming soon.
A Day on the Set
by Dave Crowe (June 1999)
Pickup 7 a.m. Breakfast on set. The next table is heavy with stuntmen. Not much talking and plenty of evidence on their faces of the risks they take. It's already warm, although the wardrobe warehouse is high ceilinged and pleasantly cool. Row upon row of period costumes are carefully labeled and any cast who fail to return theirs are heavily docked.
We are five in number, the overseas contingent of the CCC Crowe XI, otherwise known as Crowe's Cricketing Cronies. My sons Jeff and Martin, plus my brother Alex and his elder son Terry. Another whanau member is Steve Wilkins, here to provide the fast bowling. Russell Crowe (known on set as Mr. Crowe) is resting in one of his two trailers. If we want to see my nephew in action we will have to wait for the premiere. We have already enjoyed his athleticism on the cricket field bowling, batting and fielding with elan in our two matches here.
Garbing completed we are now Roman Senators, laden with tunic and toga. Mine is surprisingly light and very comfortable with a loose effect. First is a tour of the location, starting with the Coliseum. It's a true stadium made of real blocks and plaster. Wait until you see the Palace, I'm told. This is huge, ornate and impressive. (To tell you more will be to spoil the movie for you.)
Next to the Stables are the dungeons. My God, is this how they lived? Yes, I'm assured, this is authentic. How do you know? From research into history, from written accounts, from artifacts, drawings, and customs. There must be an enormous amount of creative design here. The director, Ridley Scott, is meticulous, painstaking to the nth degree. The Maltese Construction company spent eight months building the place, adding to the existing crumbling masonry of the 500 year old fort with new structures that seem to blend exactly.
The ambience is amazingly laid back. We meet hundreds of cast and crew, all polite, enthusiastic, loving their work. The script has undergone extensive changes since shooting commenced back in England in October. There the banks of the River Danube in AD 180 was recreated, and the Romans invade Germany. Then the action switches to location to Morocco, with a contrast in temperatures that is extreme.
In Malta the Coliseum is the final battleground. The captain of the gladiators, the late Oliver Reed, will disappear but his lessons live on. The Coliseum floor is littered with dead chariot horses, bodies severed, headless corpses, an array of gruesome evidence of the gory games of yore. We tour the Coliseum first and then take our places in the Royal Box to watch the final chariot race. It ends in confusion -- definitely unscripted. The runaway chariot is meant to crash through the main gates but the first take is a near disaster. The offside nag veers off and there is a violent crash into the side wall of the gate. Handlers race to the horses, and after ensuring they are OK there is some attention paid to the bloodied nose of the driver.
It needs many more takes to finally meet Assistant Director Brian Cook's satisfaction. In between setups he strolls across to our box, as near to Peter O'Toole as you can imagine with his long slim frame, huge but unhurried strides and battered panama. He calls up to our box, megaphone at the ready : "How are you Senators? Ready for action? We'll have you in shot shortly, unless you want to join the oily towrags in the cheap seats."
It is all a giant con. The crew are lovingly lapping up our act, seeing us have the mickey removed as we strut around like real actors. "Sorry old boy, just can't quite squeeze you in today after all. Never mind, next time." It is like local folk defending bad weather. "You should have been here yesterday."
Hey, for me it is magic. As a frustrated thespian I am thrilled to just watch and mingle. I talk with famous stars, famous crew, famous people. I'll tell you more about them next time.
Gladiator set photos:
Very special thanks to Dave Crowe (Maximum Crowe Exclusive)
(See the uncropped version of this photo and much more on our Gladiator page.)
Dinner with Derek
by Dave Crowe (July 1999)
Just put yourself in my position. Here I was, in Malta, a REAL island in the Mediterranean, summoned there by my film star nephew Russell Crowe. Along with the other male members of our family to play cricket and appear as walk-on Roman Senators in the movie "Gladiator."
We played the cricket that day and a needle match resulted in a narrow win for Malta by three wickets. It was exhausting, a day that my son Jeff, veteran of many dour battles all over the world, described afterward as the most knackered he had ever felt.
Do we let that stand in our way? Of course not. We are bidden to Malta's foremost restaurant, The Barracuda, on the tip of Sliema Point in the most prestigious and salubrious region of this rocky, wealthy island. The limousines are waiting.
It is not far, so we are soon gathered about the bar for the compulsory aperitif. There are eight tables, each taking six diners. As visitors, but nonetheless family members, we are assigned to host a table each, for Russell is using this occasion to register his appreciation for the great crew and cast with whom he has been working on this major epic.
My table includes some familiar faces. As we introduce ourselves the names fall into place. Derek Jacobi, David Schofield, John Shrapnel. How does your name derive John? A German name, used to describe a particularly vicious method of bombing developed during the Great War. Maybe an ancestor invented the thing.
Derek, haven't you played in Auckland? Ah, thought so, some Shakespearean company in the mid 70's. Loved it, he said, would like to come again. Good, look me up, old boy. Lovely man, Derek, thoroughly civilised and a great sense of humour. Must have, he laughed at all my jokes. Even the bad jokes, like when he asked where is my wife? Come on, Derek, you don't pack the things you don't need.
You would recognise David Schofield from dozens of British films. Elegant, poised, yet down to earth. Willing to solve the problems of the world. Only took us a couple of hours.
Joaquin Phoenix sauntered past. He spotted Sandra Butterworth with unlit cigarette. Now this fellow is way out. He lolls his head to one side permanently as he maneuvres three broken pieces of toothpick around his mouth. He comes out with incomprehensible statements. Suddenly, when he is called on set, he turns totally professional. The role is absorbed, the head no longer cocked threateningly in a menacing pose. He is an impressive actor and Schofield tells me that some of the scenes between Joaquin and Russell, as the movie's antagonists, are as intense as he has ever seen. He just hopes they survive the Hollywood process!
Back to the table. The unlit cigarette, the pretty woman, the gallant gesture. Out it comes in Phoenix, with a swooping bow and a lift of the candle. Grandly he brings it to her, only to have it snuffed, rejected with a single puff. He retires, confused, misunderstood. I am staggered that such chivalry should be spurned so churlishly. I speak to him later and yes, he remembered the incident and shared my chagrin.
An unforgettable night, for who was doing the acting? I was, of course, as a frustrated thespian from amateur repertory. I think they forgave me.
Tribute to Dave Crowe
Be sure to read Dave Crowe's film reviews on our Fan Review Page
Don't miss our Gladiator page.
(Also includes an extra's report on the cricket match!)
For more pictures of Martin Crowe see: Places and Other Faces
For Martin and Jeff links: Russell EXPOSED!
Read all the latest News, Gossip and Rumors!
Photos of Martin and Jeff Crowe from "Out on a Limb" by Martin Crowe
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