Jay Leno: Everybody on the show is better looking than me tonight. My next guest is an Australian actor making his first appearance on the Tonight Show. He's starring in this great new film called, L.A. Confidential. He makes a real powerful, uh...boy he's really good. He's a real powerful actor. Please welcome Russell Crowe!!!
Russell comes out wearing a black suit over a shirt with broad purple vertical stripes, which is over a t-shirt. His hair is wavy, with just the barest hint of a half-shave. The suit's alright, but the shirt must go.
JL: Hey! Nice to meet ya.
Russell Crowe: Nice to meet you mate.
JL:You know, I know you're from Australia and when I saw you in this film, I could have sworn you were an American because you got the accent down good--but you don't live here now do you?
RC: No, I live in Australia. I live, uh, about seven and a half hours northwest of Sydney.
JL: Seven and a half hours?!
JL: Isn't that a bit of a commute every day for seven and a half hours?
RC: Well, it is a bit of a long commute when I come over here, but it's okay.
JL: Even when you're in Australia when you're doing things it would seem like seven and a half hours it's like, 'well you have an audition tomorrow for the big Jack-in-the-Box commerical...
RC: Yeah? Well send them up here! [laughter]
JL: I mean...are you a farmer?
RC: Yeah, I've got cows and stuff, but actually I'm a bit of a farmer's nightmare because umm... once I befriend an animal I can't then...
JL: Eat it.
RC: ...use it for anything you know? It's like what do you do? You watch a cow, you grow up with it, see the cow discover the world and everything and then at certain point say, 'sorry mate you're hamburger.' And then you kinda.... so I just enjoy the fact that the animals are around me...[Jay's laughing]... and they just calm me down, you know?
JL: They could just hang out!
RC: Yeah, just hang out, sit back...some of them smoke. [laughter]
JL: Well, how about dairy? Now, you can milk cows, they like that.
RC: Yeah, maybe. You have to imagine you have to be out at five in the morning and then five in the afternoon, twice a day, every day of your life, day in and day out, you know?....forgehht about it.
JL: Let me see those hands....let me see those [reaches out, takes Russell's hands, examines them] ... now you're still pink here, doesn't look like a lot of work being done on that farm. [laughter]
RC: Uhhh...yeah, there's some blisters here now...
JL: A couple...[laughs]
RC: It's all based on sweat up there. [Jay's snickering]
JL: So are you far from neighbors? I mean, just on you own? Is that what you're like?
RC: Ummm....well it could be as isolated as you like it. There's a shop down the road which is kinda like a liquor store, newsagent, take-away food bar, you know....
JL: [something]....when you're single [laughter]
RC: All rolled into one.
JL: It's like a single guy's dream. Liquor store, magazine, food. That's it, pretty much. That's all you need, no clothing, no shop. Just liquor store...
RC: The actual nearest town is about 40 minutes away so...
JL: Oh! geez....now I know you were talking about your dog. Tell me what happened.
RC: Yeah, yeah, I had umm...three dogs. Two of them are highly bred cattle dogs, and the third one is a Jack Russell terrier. And the only dog that I had that would work the cattle was the Jack Russell terrier, you know? It was about that big [holds hands about one football length apart] And it just got taken by a taipan(sp?) snake the other day.
JL: Eaten by a snake?
RC: Not eaten, but uh--killed, yeah.
JL: Oh geee...
RC: Unfortunately, but I mean, that's just a little warning that, you know, uhh... it may be a very civilized place and all that sort of stuff, but if you go to Australia-- and we like having Americans go there-- always have a chat with the locals about.... the things in the area, you know? If you get the price of a beer, you can get a lot of information in Australia. [Jay laughs].... And uh, we've got three of the most poisonous snakes in the world there you know? And the taipan is one of them, and that's the end of me... brave little... doggy.
JL: Oh, well I'm sorry to hear that.
RC: Well, it's scruffy.
JL: So, you've done a lot of... you did musicals as well?
RC: Yeah, did a lot of musicals when I was younger. Ummm...Grease, Rocky Horror Show....
JL: Rocky Horror Show? Now, who were you in The Rocky Horror Show?
RC: I played Eddie and Dr. Scott. Eddie is like a Meatloaf character in the movie that comes out and sings a song, gets killed straight away, chucked in the fridge, ummm.... then you run backstage get a little bit of thin grease paint on, come out in a wheelchair as a 65 year old Dr. Scott, you know?
JL: Yeah, that's alright.
RC: We actually in Christchurch on tour-- I did it for three years, '86, '87, '88 -- something like that... to New Zealand and Christchurch which is right down the bottom of our street, and we did this gag every night where he'd come out in his wheelchair, kinda wheels around stage, stops short in front of Brad, he's standing there in his underwear, you know, gives a hard stop, you come flying out of the chair into Brad's arms, you know? And in that tour we had a seventeen year old guy playing Brad. Brad's playing the show in his underwear. It's a musical, big theatre, 2,000 seats, you have microphones all along the side of the stage. Come out, do the gag-- fall into his arms. Right at his backend, one night, standing right there where the microphone is, you know? And the physical impact of me coming into his arms, he emitted what you could call a fluremfreezilwabbywoofwoof(SP?!). [laughter].
JL: Passing gas would be the American term.
RC: Straight into the microphone. Little touch of reverb, everybody knows what's going on, you know? He's standing there, red as a beet, the audiences in New Zealand-- they're very polite-- they're not laughing, they're just going [leans head back, and widens eyes]. I mean 2,000 people at the one time, now that's alot for a lifetime of being caught. He got it down in one night. So I'm in his arms looking at him, he's going red and shaking. I know what's going on, he knows what's going on, 2,000 other people know what's going on. And uh, my first line of dialogue is supposed to be, "Brad, what the hell are you doing here?" you know? And I was playing it as an American from the southern states, and I said, "Brad! What the hell have you been eaten' boy?!" [said with southern, Colonel Jackson-type accent. much laughter, applause]
JL: That's a very good American voice. Let's talk about L.A. Confidential now. For people who don't know, this is a film noir, I guess you'd call it? 50's Los Angeles. REALLY, it's uh, the author is James, uh...
RC: James Ellroy.
JL: Ellroy, right. Real suspense, real good story. And you play, this....just tough, ruthless LA cop. And Danny DeVito is in it as well.
RC: Yeah , yeah. Yeah, it's funny cos in the movie, I only got to punch Danny and stand over his dead body....but we still became really good friends. I know how straight after the shoot we were in Australia, he was doing ummm.... he was doing publicity for Matilda, that film he directed. And he just called me up, said, "What do you want to do? You want to hang out and stuff?" And I was actually in the studio rehearsing with my band, which is uhhh...something I do between films and stuff, and ummmm....he said, "Can I come to the rehearsal?" And said, "oh, well, we really don't do anything. We just kinda stand around arguing-- you know what it's like [ to Kevin Eubanks--he laughs]. Looking for the new material and stuff, you know? So he said, "aahhh...no, no, it'll be fine. So he came along, and I said, "well, here it is," you know? It's this dirty, stinky room, you know? I said, "You want a soda, you want a cigarette or whatever?" And he said, "no, no, I'll be fine. I'll just sit here and listen." So he listens to one song, you know? And we finish it and stuff. And he goes, "hey, uh, give me them cigarettes." I said, "I thought you didn't smoke." He said, "I need them for something." So I got the cigarettes, he takes two out, and he breaks the filters off, you know? I'm thinking, 'wh--? What's he doing?' He goes, "you guys going to sing any more songs?" And I said, "yeah, yeah" He takes the two filters and he sticks them in his ears, and he goes, "ehh, alright."[doing really bad Danny DeVito impression. laughter and applause]
JL: Well, let's take a look. Here's a scene from L.A. Confidential. I really recommend this movie. You like a tight, well-written suspense movie-- this is great. Let's take a look....
[they air the Exley-ambulance clip. much applause]
JL: Great job! Russell, good luck to you. Come see us again. Russell Crowe!
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
air date: September 26, 1997