Russell speaks on Denzel Washington, SID 6.7, and more

......"I was tied up in this box below the floor, with only my head showing above ground," says Australian actor Russell Crowe(The Quick and the Dead), who plays the digital villain in the new Brett Leonard actioner Virtuosity. "It's a sweatbox kind of situation. For two days, I was like this, and it was absolute torture, bound in that position for hours at a time." Crowe, who was crated for scenes in which SID slowly "builds" a machine body that can exist outside a computer, says the painful sequences were salved in part by Denzel Washington, who plays ex-cop Parker Barnes.

"Denzel, without asking anyone, moved pillow under my head and made it bearable for me during that time," says Crowe, who also credits Washington and Leonard for lobbying Paramount to cast him. "He put the pillow in, took it away while we got the shot, and then put it back again. I found him to be gentle, empathetic and generous. He was the one who looked after me in that situation, when I was at the complete mercy of everyone and everything around me. It was one of the best working relationshops I've ever had in my years as a cinema performer."

....."SID is programmed to react to the needs and fears of the people he is competing with in the simulator," says Crowe. "When he gets out of the simulator, he examines society around him--sees crime, war, poverty, pollution--and concludes that human beings all want to suffer and die. So, in his mind, he is only fulfilling his program. He thinks he's doing you a favor. If you smoke cigarettes or eat chemicals, he concludes you want to die. To SID, it's all cut and dried. His first act after becoming free is to kidnap everyone in an interactive music nightclub, terrorize them and create a musical symphony out of their screams."

"That's what's so great about the story," says the Australian. "It's not just a virtual-reality story about SID escaping and committing crimes. It's also a bigger story about Denzel's character coming back into society and finding something to care about again. There are lots of little stories within the big story in this film."

--excerpted from Cinescape, August 1995

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