It's complex, it's convoluted, it respects the audience...

Why Australian actor Russell Crowe thinks LA Confidential is the best movie he's ever made...

Neon: Were you familiar with with James Ellroy's work?

RC: I'd read The Black Dahlia, but I hadn't read La Confidential . After reading the script then the book afterwords, I was amazed that Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland could pull a script out of what is a very complicated and convoluted narrative.

NEON: How did you prepare for the role?

RC: We went riding with contemporary cops, but the difference is massive between '53 and '96, so even though it gave us a certain level of information, it was not necessarily relevant any more. I mean, we were dealing with 1953. The available weaponry is totally different -- in 1953 you had .38 calibre, two-inch, four-inch or six inch Colts or Smith & Wessons, and you had to buy your own guns. These days you're dealing with automatic weapons, and different types of bullets, and the radio calls are diferent. The precincts are being redrawn. The Miranda rights -- the right to remain silent that you see in movies all the time - didn't exist until the late '60s. Actually, I ended up finding out more from other sources.

NEON: Your part is very comlex ...

RC: When I first read the script I saw Bud as being completely immoral. He was abusing his authority, abusing his badge for his own means, but when I got to know him more, and the more I examined the time period that he as doing it in, I realized there were no rules or laws to assist the stopping of domestic violence, so I began to see Bud as a very moral man, a man who absolutely believes in the things he believes in. He will fight and die for them and the people he believes in -- and that does'n happen very often these days.

Neon: Were you given an image for the role?

RC: Curtis sent me this photo of a guy with really short sleeves and, y'know, a buzz cut, squatting over a barbeque with a little note saying, "This is Bud at the beach", so I had physical image at the beginning of the rehearsal period that told me who this guy was.

Neon: Did you feel you were right for the part?

RC: No, I thought Curtis was totally insane. In the book it says that Bud is the largest man in the LAPD. I rang him up and said, "Listen, mate, I don't know what you've seen but it must have been some smoke and mirrors -- I'm not that sort of fellow. He said, "Oh, you'll be OK." I had to trust his instinct.

Neon: How do you see your American career going?

RC: Well, obviously this is the best film I've done in America. The Quick and the Dead I enjoyed, but unless you're a big fan of Sergio Leone you're probably not going to get all the levels the filmmaker intended. Virtuosity -- a big concept, big budget and I got to work with Denzel, but it's still a cartoon, y'know? This is the first film I've made where I can say to anybody, regardless of age, "You're going to enjoy this movie. It's complex, its convoluted, it respects the audience -- its not a normal studio movie. Now I've been spoiled by making this, what am going to do next?

Neon, November 1997