Russell Crowe , 52, stars in the comedy, The Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling. In Los Angeles to talk a little about his life, and despite his protestations, he seems a little softer around the edges these days. Divorced from Danielle Spencer, whom he married in 2003 and with whom he shares custody of their two sons: Charles, 12, and Tennyson, 9, he seems at a good point in his life.
RYAN GOSLING SAID HE WAS A BIT INTIMIDATED BY YOU AT FIRST. HOW DID YOU FORGE A BOND TOGETHER?
We actually had a little ice breaker meeting about two years before. I had seen him in three particular movies: Drive, Crazy Stupid Love and Ides of March, one after the other and I just thought he was something pretty special. So I wanted to talk to him about a project. So I called him. I go, ‘Hi Ryan, Russell Crowe,’ and he goes ‘Oh, okay. Mr. Crowe. Well, I suppose I should have been expecting this call. I am so sorry for stealing all your roles for the last ten years!’ (laughs) So when a bloke is that charming, you know what I mean, you are going to easily get along. We share an absurd sense of humour and he quite literally made me laugh every single day of working. But he is serious about his job, don’t get me wrong. He doesn’t come to work to muck around, he comes to work to work, which is something I really appreciate.
WOULD YOU SAY YOU HAVE BECOME SOFTER WITH AGE?
I am exactly the same type of person. I think your priorities shift in life perhaps, but see, I think there is a natural change that happens. It was only a few years ago that I only ever worked with directors who were older than me. And then just like that, something changes and it’s like a generational click or whatever, and then all of a sudden from Man of Steel onwards, I was working with directors who are significantly younger than me. Hopefully if I hang around and get even older, maybe they will remake On Golden Pond and I will get to do that role. (laughs)
DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA REGULARLY? ARE YOU SOMEBODY WHO IS KIND OF EXCITED ABOUT NEW APPS OR TECHNOLOGY? ‘
Not really. But I have found with Twitter you get rid of a lot of bullshit stuff that happens and there’s a sort of a ground level where somebody states a particular thing and it can be sorted out then and there. A few years ago, you would have to wait for that negativity or criticism to be published before you were given the opportunity to deny it. And it was never effective and you were still answering questions two years later.
I find on Twitter, you get in on that ground level very quickly and because people are operating in terms of websites and not print media so much, those things can be corrected very quickly. Also there’s another aspect to it and some people get lost in a sort of narcissism and egotism description of social media in that rate, but I think that’s a sort of empty understanding of what social media actually is – as a platform. So I can respond to something sort of quickly. The death of a friend, and all these sorts of things and it’s a very interesting medium as it grows and it goes forward. So I think being able to have that direct contact, it’s just where we are going societally and it’s like people wanting continuous information. So at the moment I am comfortable using it for my own reasons.
I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR SONS. ARE THEY SHOWING ANY INTEREST IN PERFORMING AND WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE THEM TO?
I am in kind of a tough position when it comes to talking about my kids. Because if it was up to me I would tell you about them all day long and I would tell you all the stories of their lives and everything, but it does impact their privacy. And it makes them a sort of point of conversation at school. And they would really prefer to be a little bit more under the radar.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ACTORS?
Well I know that this job really is a calling. If you have sat down and you have logically worked out that you should be an actor, based on the fact that your eyes are a certain colour or there is a certain kind of symmetry to your face or whatever, you are just not going to enjoy this job, because so much of it is about rejection.
It’s so much about a subjective viewpoint that you’re never going to necessarily agree with or necessarily even understand. So you must do it for your own pure reasons. And that’s when you are going to enjoy it and you don’t do it for money, and you don’t do it for status. Do it because you are part of that percentage of the population that has that gypsy DNA where you want to be a storyteller. So if you are doing it and that’s the basis of your reasons for doing it, you are going to enjoy yourself, because it’s not going to matter how you do it.
I’ve said before on many other occasions, if I lived in Shakespearian times, I would be very happy to be on the back of an oxen cart going from large house to large house seeing if we could put on a show. I would have been very happy doing that. The fact that I have done it in an age where it has had the sort of social position that it has, is neither here nor there, nor is it my choice. I mean the big secret is, it’s not really a secret, don’t tell the studios please, that I would do the job for free. Because I love it.
WHAT ABOUT FAME? WHAT DO YOU TELL PEOPLE WHO ARE NEWLY FAMOUS ABOUT FAME?
Well I try to make light of it really. Because I know that in a way, particularly in the period between 2001 – 2003 something like that, or 2000 -2003, things got really intense and they really got overwhelming. And ultimately my response to that was to just disappear for twelve months.
But I have a little bit more of a balance now and I understand much more. But I think it’s hard. Every individual is going to go through that rush of attention in their own way. And no matter what you say, you can’t really prep somebody for it, because it’s going to hit them so individually. So the thing that I try to do, (laughs) is just be really, really succinct about it, because ultimately, and this is for anybody in any walk of life, happiness is your own choice. Happiness is a choice and I choose to be grateful for all of the wonderful things my job has provided for me and my family.
HOW DO YOUR KIDS DEAL WITH IT?
I had a thing a while ago, and this is going back to talking about my kids but without talking about my kids, my little one, he said to me, ‘Dad, I understand when we go for a walk and stuff and you say to people that you don’t want to do photographs and everything, that you are doing that for me and Charlie, but you make an awful lot of people sad.’ I think he was seven when he asked that. He is nine now. And I said, ‘Well, do you want us to change the policy? I do it because it does impact our time together, particularly if you are going from place A to place B. And I do it so I spend the time that I have with you, which is already limited by circumstances and I focus on you. ‘ And he said he understood. But then he said, ‘We are going to change the policy.’ So I said, ‘Alright, so from now on, everybody who asks, we stop and do a photograph with.’
So the next day, I think we went out in the morning and we stopped maybe ten or twelve times. We go out that afternoon and it’s maybe like twenty or something times. The day after, we were kind of in more of a public place, a little event and it was about thirty, forty times and it would probably be like sixty or seventy by the end of the day. The following morning, we go out early for a walk and we just so happen to run into a bunch of tourists and they went off a little bit, so probably twenty, twenty-five people, thirty people, and my little seven year old is just in the periphery of my vision, and he goes, ‘Dad, dad? We are changing the policy!’ (laughs)
But now, I actually have to be hyper aware when I am in a public place with them that they see me regard people always with kindness and patience. Because that is another thing, that is another aspect, now that they are older and the ages that they are, it’s of great importance to me that they understand the job can be overwhelming but I always try to remain as simple and as grounded with it as possible. And I think they are beginning to understand that now and see it and I do a little combination of the old policy and the new policy. I do my best.