A while back, I told you about Nicole LaPorte’s tell-all book about Dreamworks, specifically the part where she claims Steven Spielberg is obsessed with secrecy. The book comes out next month, and Gawker today has a few new excerpts, these ones concerning Russell Crowe. You’ll never believe this, but they paint him as quick to anger and a bit of a prima donna. I refused to believe it at first, and got so mad I threw a cell phone at my own reflection.
You motherf*cker. I will kill you with my bare hands.”
“Hello?” Branko Lustig said, confused and barely awake; it was, after all, 3 a.m. in England.
“You motherf*cker,” the speaker repeated.
“Who’s on the phone? Who is this?” Lustig demanded.
When Russell Crowe identified himself, the genuinely terrified Lustig, one of the producers of the about-to-be-filmed Gladiator, hung up and called Steven Spielberg in Los Angeles.
“Steven,” he said. “I’m leaving. Russell wants to kill me. I’m leaving.”
Having survived a concentration camp, Lustig was not taking any chances.
Crowe, not yet Russell Crowe, but still just another verkakte Australian coming off a sleeper (L.A. Confidential), was sour because he believed DreamWorks was low-balling his assistants on their per diems. Rather than raise this grievance at a mundane daylight hour, Crowe opted for a more dramatic statement, a tactic not unknown in these parts. The actor’s recent behavior had been erratic, just like everything else on the project.
Well that’s outrageous. I’ve heard Nic Cage once threatened to kill someone with his bear hands, but he was just method acting on the set of Wicker Man. Haha, good one, Jay. But wait! There’s more!
A month later, after filming in England, the shoot moved to Ouarzazate, Morocco – a town near the Sahara Desert, where Hollywood has traditionally gone for its sword and sandal needs (Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in the area). Crowe’s mood did not improve. Twice, he had walked off the set. Even when he was supposedly having “fun,” Crowe was a puffy pain. After challenging members of the crew to a foot race, and losing, he would mutter for days, “I would have won, but I can’t run in the sand in sandals.”
Never were Crowe’s spirits more in flux than when he was to read the climactic, “And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next” scene, in which his character, Maximus, removes his helmet and reveals his identity. It was only the most seminal line in the entire movie, and yet Crowe was convinced that it was ridiculous – overwrought, puffery that no man would ever be caught dead saying, least of all a brawny, sword-carrying killer standing under the unrelenting African sun. Scott was one of the few people who seemed to understand Crowe, that underneath all that volatility was a very scared actor who needed to feel safe. Rather than blow up at him, Scott waited until the tantrum subsided. Then he agreed to shoot the scene the way Crowe preferred.
After doing the take, Crowe still looked dissatisfied. “Let me see the other script again,” he said to Scott, referring to the loathed revision. After studying the page stonily, he shrugged. “Well, we might as well try it.”
And so, the scene was reshot. Everyone agreed it was brilliant. Everyone, that is, but Crowe. “Russell, what’s the problem?” Scott asked, finally showing a hint of exasperation. “It worked.”
“It was sh*t,” Crowe repeated, “but I’m the greatest actor in the world and I can make even sh*t sound good.” And with that he marched off. [Gawker]
I love me a good “superstar-actor-acting-like-a-prick” story, but the way this chick writes, I’m inclined not to believe anything she says. What the hell does the “unrelenting African sun” have to do with anything? Wasn’t that scene set in Rome? And why all the alliteration and adverbs and Yiddish? Who is she quoting when she says “he was supposedly having ‘fun’?” I swear, reading a gossip columnist is like trying to get through some breathy drama kid’s story that turns out to be about picking out shoes.
[there was nothing in there about Tobey Maguire, I just love that picture – thanks to BDarbs for the tips]