Strength and Honor: Happy Birthday, Russell Crowe!

Russell Crowe Gladiator

 

“I don’t like the idea of going to the office. I’m a fucking gypsy, man, and I come from a long line of gypsies, and some great tradition of gypsies who tell stories. You know? That’s what my job is. We’re all storytellers, and that’s what we’re here for, you know? Now, a few hundred years ago it was a different situation, but now through flickering light we get to talk to millions of people at a time sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you know… and uh, it’s ok. That’s cool. That’s a good job. But I would have done it on the back of a wagon in Shakespeare’s time. I would have been, you know, in that wagon that’s mentioned in Hamlet, you know? I would have been one of those players, pulling up, telling the story, and you know… I never cease seeing this thing as a privilege and seeing the opportunity to tell a people a story as a privilege. And I know that sounds all high-falutin’ and idealistic in a way, but fuck it, man, I am.”

Russell Crowe, Inside the Actor’s Studio

Happy 50th Birthday to one of the finest actors of my generation, Mr. Russell Crowe!

I celebrated this weekend by having cake — er, feasting my eyes on the Blu-ray versions of Gladiator and L.A. Confidential, as well the HD streaming version of A Beautiful Mind. Crowe is simply in his prime in these three films.  It’s such a pleasure to watch his versatility as an actor.  In all three of these roles, Crowe plays men whose outer forte disguises a distinct private conflict — whether it’s Bud White’s intense vulnerability, Maximus’ crusade to avenge the death of his family and surrogate father, or John Nash’s exquisite intelligence that belied his crippling mental illness.

Marcus Aurelius had a dream that was Rome, Proximo. This is not it. This is not it!

Crowe-Gladiator-2

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend the Blu-ray version of Gladiator.  This is hands-down one of my favorite movies, and the extended edition that comes with the Blu-ray is fascinating to watch.  It’s been years since I’ve seen this, and I never before noticed the meticulous detail and flawless choreography of the battle scenes.  Everything seems to be buzzing in the high-definition version of this film — the mud, the armor, the Coliseum, Maximus’s bright blue eyes and iron muscles — it is simply a masterpiece of epic proportions.

Romper Stomper Russell Crowe

Crowe as Hando in Romper Stomper

By the way,  I highly recommend two lesser known films from Russell Crowe’s earlier career — Geoffrey Wright’s Romper Stomper (1992) and David Stevens’ The Sum of Us (1994).  First off, the fact that both these roles are played by the same person is shocking.  The raw talent expressed in Romper Stomper is almost frightening.

Russell Crowe LA Confidential

Crowe as Bud White in L.A. Confidential

As a matter of fact, it was this film that exposed L.A. Confidential director Curtis Hanson to Crowe’s work to begin with.  When he saw the ferocity that Crowe portrayed in Hando, he saw what he could bring to the table for Bud White.  Similarly,the affection shown in The Sum of Us illustrates Crowe’s consummate versatility as an actor.

Russell Crowe The Sum of Us

Crowe alongside Jack Thompson in The Sum of Us

Above all, I think what I admire most about Russell Crowe is his humility as an actor.

Yes, he has a reputation for being short-tempered — just recently he was accused of arguing with a Dublin reporter during the premiere of his latest film, Noah (review of that film coming soon).  People love to label.  However, if you watch Crowe’s interview with James Lipton on Inside the Actor’s Studio, (click here for a transcript), you see the man behind the brawn.  He is intelligent, thoughtful, and sensitive — someone fearless enough to injure their body for the greater cinematic good, but intelligent enough to remain professional, steadfast, and above all — gracious about their talent.

Happy 50th, Mr. Crowe.  Here’s to another half-century of brilliant filmmaking!

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Categories: Entertainment, Movies

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3 replies

  1. I saw him at the Noah premiere in Edinburgh last week and he doesn’t look 50! And i thin L.A Confidential is his best performance 🙂

    • Lucky you to see him in person! I’d love to meet him someday – and yes, he definitely doesn’t look 50. I think L.A. Confidential was one of his best performances also, but there are so many to choose from!

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