We got more than 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts out of Russell Crowe as he flashed through Sydney this week (it's also the name of his band). And we should be grateful for that.
Crowe is defensive with journalists. They keep saying what an arrogant, rude bastard he is. And, while no-one is more capable of pouring on the charm (give him a beer and a battered guitar and he'll yodel and joke till dawn), he's nobody's fool.
"I'm not Mr Vogue," Crowe says, shrugging. "I'm not going to pose like some mannequin in a suit." He probably doesn't have to. Crowe is one of our smoothest and most versatile actors (actually New Zealand gave him to the world, not Sydney). And his career trajectory has been more spectacular than most - from co-star (Proof) to lead (Romper Stomper), to Sharon Stone's bedfellow (The Quick And The Dead), and now Denzel Washington's nemesis (Virtuosity), in just five years. Next he stars opposite Bridget Fonda in Rough Magic. But as far as Crowe's concerned, it hasn't happened overnight.
"Virtuosity was a seven month campaign," he points out. "When I go to America to work I compete with American movie stars." He won't say if it's been tough. For the record, he's no ruder than he was when he left. But there are no stars in Russell Crowe's eyes when it comes to the American film industry.
"With a director like Brett Leonard (Virtuosity) film-making is purely technical," he says. "And that's totally different to how we work here. In Australia we tell stories." Since Virtuosity Crowe says he's read more than 30 scripts, "and they were all variations of the same story. But you get an Australian script and it's a one-off. It's not copying any other movies." Australians like Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof) and P.J Hogan (Muriel's Wedding) remain his favourite directors. "We should be very proud of the films we do here. If I ever achieve A-list status in America," he adds, "it will be a by-product. Not because I care whether I ever make a film there again. I'm in this game to expand my mind, not shrink it."
The Sydney Morning Herald December 1, 1995.