TOFOGlogo.gif (5722 bytes)Russell Crowe: The Actor Sings Up Storm With Craig Mathieson
March 1996, Juice, Australia

Is your first single, "The Photograph Kills", with 30 Odd Foot of Grunt, about being an actor?
It is, but there's more than that.  It alludes to the ancient cultures that were totally afraid of cameras when they came along because they believed that being photographed would take your soul.  I think there's a wide analogy with the greater medium.  What we thought was native voodoo nonsense was extremely perceptive.

Why form a band?
I didn't get into it for the money.  I didn't get into it for the fame.  One, I'm a born storyteller, and two, it's life big adventure.

Does music feel better to you than film?
At the moment, yeah.  There's a certain energy in film, it's very cerebral.  You sit in your lounge and plan it beforehand, what buttons you're gonna push.  I love that process, but there's a whole other kind of performance energy you don't get to use.  Working on a movie set is about endurance and patience.   There's something feral and primal about playing in a rock and roll band.

Is it strange going back to what you did before you took up acting?
I actually stopped playing in rock and roll bands when I realized - and I was younger and much better looking in those days - that if you took your shirt off it meant you were going to do an encore.  I thought that was pathetic, giving people the chance to do a mating ritual.  I thought I had to go and do something deeper, more artistic.  I went into movies and after a certain amount of success you realize that in 90 per cent of the conversations you have, people want to talk about Sharon Stone, the sex scene in Romper Stomper, or showing your ass in Virtuosity.

I'd better cross those off my list.  How are people reacting to your appearance behind a microphone?
I had a lot of meetings with record companies who wanted to package and change everything.  They couldn't accept that this was a legitimate form of expression, that these songs meant something to me.  They couldn't see that it was more than William Shatner's Christmas album.  By the time I shuffle off this mortal coil I intend to experience creativity in every medium I can.

So, was 'Virtuosity' your excursion into big-budget fun?
Since Romper Stomper I've done seven variations on being the nice guy.  What appealed to be about S.I.D. was that he wasn't human.  Hando may have a tough attitude, but I've never played an android.  I was doing specific allusions to the various killers that made up S.I.D.'s computer program - I did a sequence where you go from Dahmer to Manson to Berkowitx in two sentences.

Did you study these guys?
I actually made a program called 183 Prophets of Doom, containing everyone in S.I.D.  But I ended up dropping Manson from the program.  I didn't think he was mean enough.  I replaced him with Nancy Reagan.

Are your adventures in Hollywood at an end or just a beginning?
The one thing you can't walk away from is that it's the centre of the film industry.   That's where all the great directors make their deals.  It you're serious about acting, you have to take a squizz.  I've done five films there, experienced big budget ones, real little ones.  And the conclusion I've come to is that it's far more artistically satisfying to work here in Australia.  Even when you're doing a little independent film you find out it's not one because they want you to examine their subject more seriously.  In Hollywood they're simply trying to make a commercial film for less money.  And they all stand around going "Don't worry, it's just an independent film".  That made me get behind the grips and go, "do you think you could move a little faster, we've got a long day ahead of us."

Hence another chapter in the Russell Crowe bad boy image?
Yeah.  The thing is I'm serious about what I do.  If someone takes advantage of a situation that affects a performance or the quality of a movie, then I don't see why I should be passe' about it.

Do you agree with people who say 'Romper Stomper' is your best work?
I particularly like Love in Limbo.  Arthur - an anally retentive Welsh Baptist virgin - was some of my most delicate work.  It was funny actually, because halfway through that film I started preparing for Romper Stomper, so Aden Young has all these photos of me in Arthur's silly old suits and ties reading Mein Kampf.

What's next?
I just did a film, Breaking Up, with a Mexican actress, Salma Hayek, who was in Desperado.  She's fantastic.  She has great instincts.

Didn't you do a film, 'Rough Magic', with Bridget Fonda?
Years ago.  They reckon it might come out in America this year.  I've never seen it.  It was a problematic shoot in Guatemala and Mexico, and then in a warehouse in L.A.  Bridget's performance is great and the film is her character's journey.   I did it just after The Quick and the Dead, so I was very grateful to make what I felt was a significant film with a significant actress.  It's a metaphor for spirituality.  I've heard the end scene has been replaced by our characters turning into whales and fucking.

You've also go a thriller in development here, 'Pacific Meltdown'.
We've got it in development.  It's hard to be a revisionist in history when it's still playing out in front or you.  We just have to be patient, because we fully intend to set out clearly and precisely the French policy as to why they believe they should test nuclear devices in the Pacific Ocean....and then kick the piss out of them.   It's a very serious subject as far as I'm concerned.  I want the film to reflect how many lives have been affected.  Not the bullshit rhetoric, I want the facts about levels of cancer, radiation poisoning, two-headed turtles.... And we are involved so heavily in the testing.  Where did they get the fucking uranium?

So are you an optimist or a pessimist for our future?
I'm an optimist.  As Billy (Bragg) would say, "You can be active with the activists/Or sleeping with the sleepers."  I was reading a Louis Nowra script the other day with a great allusion to Australian society, where a guy's land has been treated and hasn't regenerated properly and he's talking about how he took other people's advice and he's realized they were short-term goals and that he's destroyed his land and turned it into a dustbowl.  He basically finished the speech by saying he's too tired to do anything about it.  Sometimes in this country we're a just a little bit too passive, a little bit too "She'll be right, mate".
~~article courtesy of Katrina