People accuse me of being arrogant all the time. I'm not arrogant, I'm focused. I don't make demands. I don't tell you how it should be. I'll give you fucking options, and it's up to you to select or throw 'em away.
Some things just come without any real understanding. I don't bother to question it or myself anymore. If you get into a situation like L.A. Confidential, where you can just totally get inside the character, that's a privileged position. Now that I'm more aware of the process I realize it's the position you always want to aim for.
Interview with Paula Nechak (1997)
People accuse me of being arrogant all the time. I'm not arrogant, I'm focused. I don't make demands. I don't tell you how it should be. I'll give you fucking options, and it's up to you to select or throw 'em away. That should be the headline: If you're insecure, don't fucking call.
Los Angeles Times (October 31,1999)
I'd move to Los Angeles if New Zealand and Australia were swallowed up by a tidal wave, if there was a bubonic plague in England and if the continent of Africa disappeared from some Martian attack.
New York Daily News (2000)
There's nothing like sitting back and talking to your cows.
On missing his Australian ranch, US Weekly, (Issue 304)
I'm fundamentally quite shy, so that thing of taking on another character is quite a liberating thing to do if you're a shy person, because within that character framework you can now go to all these other places. [pauses] And I never found another job that I was actually that good at.
It's really hard to explain, because it's a fucking prick of a job, you know? Particularly when you get successful with it.... People don't understand why your life suddenly changed when, hey, to them it's fucking ten bucks at the movies, it's over in a couple of hours. They dont understand the prep, they don't understand the real physical shit that you put yourself through. I mean, the last movie's an example— shoulder surgery partway through preparation. And it's a $100 million train, man, and I'm the fucking guy that drives the train. And I've got to get back on that train and make sure that this thing is completed.
If it's not going to be that serious, I don't want to do it. It's a personal taste. I don't like watching an actor have the same fucking hairdo from time period to time period, from character to character— I just think it's bullshit. It's a waste of money and a waste of my time as an audience member.
I'm the sort of bloke that will have stand-up arguments with producers, saying, "Look, mate, I know you're product-placing that fucking thing' If I can see it, I'm just not going to allow it to happen... You lose all of your integrity as soon as you cross over into that sort of crass commercialism.
I get a very deep sense that the generation after Generation X is a very conservative generation, and I'm not sure they understand the commitment part of what I do. I'm not sure if we'll ever be able to regain that ground.... I quite often feel like I'm the youngest of the old guys, where I've got some really old-fashioned philosophies about what's credible and what's not.... Suddenly, someone like me seems like a dinosaur from a different age, but I hope it's the opposite of that. I hope I'm at the forefront of thinking and it'll all come back to that at some point.
It was a 100 percent fucking home run, except the central character of William Shakespeare was not a fucking writer— he was not smelly enough, he was not unshaven enough, and obviously hadn't had enough to drink. He was some prissy pretty boy. What the fuck? That's so disrespectful.
On Shakespeare In Love, in which he had desired to play the role of Shakespeare.
I wanted to see that grizzly fucker. I wanted to see him flower. I wanted to see him blossom under the fact of love. I wanted to see where the sonnets came from. They came from the same pen of despair that wrote Timon of Athens— I wanted to see that guy. I wanted to see that guy with the sensibilities of a man that could create a body of work that would last century after century. I wanted to see that... I wanted to play that character. I loved the script. I mean, it was an incredibly well observed script about actors. That's why I thought it was so cool.
On Shakespeare In Love
I suppose I'm still too young to say everything I want to say, though nobody'd ever give me credit for holding anything back. But I do … I just have no desire or need to slag Joe Fiennes. But I would look at that particular thing differently. I see the opportunity differently.
Until I was 25, 1 had one tooth missing. When George Ogilvie cast me, he asked me about it, and I told him the story and that I thought it was very false of me to go and get a tooth cap. He was very nice about it, listened to it all, and said, "All right, well, let me put it this way, Russell. You're playing the lead character in my film, right? The character of Johnny has two front teeth....'
I don't follow anybody in particular. When people talk about Laurence Olivier or something, I go, "Fuck, man, once you've had De Niro with Raging Bull, that's where you begin."
On the set of Gladiator, I didn’t have a very good relationship with the producers. I had a very good relationship with Ridley [Scott], but the producers couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just chill out. The reason I wouldn't chill out was because I knew that if I did fucking chill out, in those five minutes something stupid would now be in the movie. Like, they were trying to get me to do a love scene, and I'm saying to them, "What we're doing here is about the vengeance of a man whose wife has been killed— you cannot have him stop off for a little bit of nooky on the way."
Every now and then I say something like this and it just sounds so self-righteous— but if there's anything I'm aiming at, it is that I want there to be a trust between me and an audience. I want them to absolutely know that if I've done it, there's some really good fucking reasons; there's something special about it. Sooner or later, the press, the magazine shit, the tabloid sort of shit, that'll all go away, because no matter how many times they say it, it's still not going to be true. What is true is what I put down in movies. Even though it's pretend, that's the truth.
I've always had a thing about being accused of something when I'm not guilty of it, you know? That goes right back to a primary school thing. It's the thing that scares me the most— being blamed for something that I didn't do... And there's that "If you get accused of something and you get angry, then you must be guilty."
I went shopping with Danielle yesterday, and we were in a bookstore. And this woman actually said, "Look, Russell Crowe reads— who'd have known?"
I used to have these very strange situations where I'd be walking down the street and I would imagine people calling out my name. I was as optimistic and as full of hope as anybody could be. And lots of things didn't turn out the way I wanted them to when I was a younger fella, but I didn't lose that thirst to understand what it is that I could do well.
A guy like Hando is abhorrent to me— the philosophy that governs his life is something that disgusts me completely— so that was an interesting learning experience.
On playing a neo-Nazi skinhead in one of his earliest roles.
Probably the biggest difference— the thing that really took my life and changed it , and made my relationship with the press a defensive one instead of one of tolerant amusement or whatever— was Meg Ryan. And, gee whiz, I'm not going to apologize for that situation in my life. It's just there. Well, actually, that's wrong— I would apologize if there are people that were directly hurt from that situation. There was never any intention like that. Quite frankly, it was in the papers before it was a reality, you know? So we were already having to deal with the bullshit, and that possibly brought us close together, because we were both dealing with what it meant to be put in that situation.
It was probably easier for me to deal with this huge thing that was happening by having this little thing to do, which was keep the video camera going. Plus, my wife has a record, an absolute record, of something that happened to her that she was not experiencing. And I know it sounds daggy and what have you, but mate, it's a hell of a cool thing to watch. I'm not being self-defensive or whatever— I have absolutely no problem expressing myself. This thing of confusing Bud White or Maximus with who I am is ridiculous. Like it's such a big fucking deal that Russell Crowe might cry? Are you fucking kidding?
On his tearing up at his wedding, and of recording his son's birth.
I'm not really doing the fucking Russell Crowe brand-name shit. I'm not fulfilling that stuff. So if I don't fulfill, then just write about it anyway... You know, there was an article I was reading on-set somewhere, and there were eleven things on this list that made me a motherfucker, right? The eleven points of motherfuckerdom of Russell Crowe. And nine of them were completely untrue, had never happened, but had been over time reprinted so much that they were now folkloric.
To be honest, when you're younger and cooler, you say those sort of things don't mean anything, but then on the day when they pat you on the back and they say, "Look, mate, we're noticing what you're doing-thanks very much;' you think of the people who spent a life in the cinema and didn't receive that kind of accolade, and it's sort of a humbling experience. And it's very nice and all that. But it doesn't change the way I do things.
On winning an Oscar for Gladiator.
This is not belittling it, because I do think it's a very emotionally and intellectually complicated physical performance, and it's the combination of those things that made it a little unusual, I suppose. But I definitely rate The Insider and A Beautiful Mind above that. I probably rate Romper Stomper above it. And there's a hell of a lot of nuance going on in L.A. Confidential as well.
On his role in Gladiator.
None of it was my application. I didn’t pay for any of it. It was…the FBI, bless their pressed white shirts. They picked up on something they thought was really important, and they were following it through. They were fucking serious, mate. What are you supposed to do? You get this late-night call from the FBI when you arrive in Los Angeles, and they’re like absolutely full-on, "We’ve got to talk to you now, before you do anything. We have to have a discussion with you, Mr. Crowe."
On being protected by the FBI.
That was the first conversation in my life that I’d ever heard the phrase Al Qaeda. And it was something to do with some recording picked up by a French policewoman, I think, in either Libya or Algiers. And it was a destabilization plan. I don’t think that I was the only person. But it was about—and here’s another little touch of irony— it was about taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization plan.
The irony being that he is a New Zealand born Australian, who has often made clear his dislike of being in Hollywood.
Oh yeah, there was a point where they said they thought the threat had probably or had possibly been overstated, and then they started to question their sources, and blah, blah, blah. But I don't know how it was resolved, you know? But they were serious about it. And what can you say? I mean, gee, there were a lot of man-hours spent doing that gig, so the least I can say is, "Thank you very much."
I'm not Machiavellian. I don't play chess with my life, you know. I respond in the moment, which is what makes me a good actor. It makes me, sometimes, a good interview subject but it also makes me a very easy target.
I think my reputation is something that I'll probably try to spend the rest of my life living it down and it probably won't work.
He was screaming at me at the time. He was calling me all manner of things and the all the other cast — or the three principal guys that I worked with, or that I shared a dressing with, were holding my arms. So that's all I had left to hit him with. And he fucking deserved it.
On being asked about head-butting actor Peter Cousins.
I have a temper. My mum's got a temper. My brother's got a temper. You've got to have one. You know what happens if you don't have one? One day you're walking down the street and you just pop. You're lying there dead on the pavement because you've been holding and suppressing all this bullshit, you know.
I live a real life, man. It's complex. Some days are absolute diamonds and some days are dog shit, same as everybody else. Unfortunately, some days that are diamonds I've taken them and turned them into doing shit. But you live and you learn. I'm 42. I'll get wiser.