Blunt Crowe cuts the ‘bullsh*t’

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 17 Desember 2014 | 20.01

Starring Russell Crowe and Olga Kurylenko, 'The Water Diviner' is an epic adventure set four years after the devastating battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

In the hot seat ... Russell Crowe. Picture: Chris Pavlich. Source: News Corp Australia

RUSSELL Crowe's directorial debut, an epic Australian historical action drama The Water Diviner, is released in cinemas on Boxing Day. You can book seats to preview showings now.

He talks to arts and film writer Vicky Roach in a Q and A.

After the Turkish premiere of The Water Diviner, you head back to Atlanta to finish filming The Nice Guys. Does that mean you won't be home for Christmas?

I have my boys for nearly a month in January and nothing in the world is going to impact that. (The filmmakers) have worked their shooting days around that. It's important anyway, but obviously in our circumstances super important. It's the only time we get to be by ourselves.

You have made no secret, for a number of years, of your desire to direct. Why this film and why now?

I got a lump in my stomach while I was reading the script. There is a whole generation of Australians that have been lost. That's who I wanted to represent in the movie — the man from the bush that spends most of his time alone and has no problem having a deep and meaningful conversation with his dog. He is laconic but emotionally available. He's the sentimental bloke.

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Sentimental bloke ... Crowe on the set of The Water Diviner. Picture: Mark Brake Source: News Corp Australia

It's great to see a film about Gallipoli that also represents the other side of the story.

To me, the level of respect the Turkish have shown us far outweighs anything we have reciprocated with. Our boys still lie in their soil in marked graves in an area that they have decided is a national park. Small things can have great resonance. For instance, we should be teaching our children that when we say Gallipoli, the Turks say Canakkale. Those two words should be completely connected.

Is The Water Diviner a film kids should see?

Definitely. Yeah, it's heavy. Grief is going to be emotionally heavy. But sex wise there is nudity and there is no swearing so you have got the space within that to allow them to learn a little bit.

Surely your two boys are a bit young yet?

No, my little one has seen it. You might think it's a tough lesson but he had a very romantic view of war.

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Digging deep ... Crowe in a scene from the film. Picture: Entertainment One Source: Supplied

So you'd describe the film as anti-war?

Unashamedly. So often, we slightly romanticise what things mean. We take big words like sacrifice and we have no real detail. There's a moment in the film where the two brothers are lying in the battlefield and the camera just descends down to where they are. You can hear hundreds of voices in that no man's land between those two trenches calling out … (men) who are expiring slowly because if somebody pops up their head to go and get them they will be shot too. That's the reality.

As an actor, your reputation is rock solid. Was it challenging to start again as a beginner?

Twenty-five years of lead roles in feature films and 40 years in front of a camera — I wasn't coming from the perspective of a novice.

Tough audience ... Crowe had to prove himself to the film crew. Picture: Entertainment One Source: Supplied

Still, your first day on set must have been fairly nerve-racking.

You can't bulls..t a film crew. I got together a lot of really sharp minds and it would probably be natural if there was a little bit of cynicism. But this is my family, I am from the same tribe. I have been in front of the camera since the age of six.

Ridley Scott says the pair of you are as "difficult" as each other. That's why you work so well together.

But we are only difficult from somebody else's perspective. Ridley is not difficult to me. I am not difficult to Ridley. If you are going to do something, You might as well do it to the best of your ability. Some people don't think that way. Sorry if that bothers you.

Two-of-a-kind ... Crowe and Ridley Scott on the set of Robin Hood. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

It occurred to me that your reputation as something of a hard taskmaster was partly to do with the fact that you might be itching to have a bit more control.

When you look at my accumulated box office — it's something like $3.8 billion — all the decisions are based on narrative. There is no series of sequels in there. The reasons people like Ron Howard, Peter Weir, Michael Mann, Tom Hooper, Aronofsky and of course Ridley gravitate towards me is because I care as much about the story as they do.

You describe the role of a lead actor as kind of a lieutenant.

My example to other actors is very important on a film. And the leadership skill of that — I have played a couple of movies where it's a skinhead gang or it's a group of sailors or some Roman gladiators, part of what the director is saying is you are responsible for them. It's never been something I didn't do naturally and instinctively. For sure, I could have started directing a significant time ago but I had to be true to my attitude to the film gods and wait for the thing that was real.

Film adaptation ... Anh Do at the premiere of The Water Diviner with wife Suzanne. Picture: Jane Dempster Source: News Corp Australia

Ridley Scott and Ron Howard have both offered you follow-up projects on the strength of your directorial debut.

It's a great compliment but I already know what I want to do next — Anh Do's The Happiest Refugee.

How close are you to getting that project off the ground?

People think you become a movie star and then you exist in this magical world where everything falls at your feet but that is just not true. It would be cool to do it but it's a harsh world. People probably don't understand the risk. It's taken me two years to make this film. It's a big chunk out of what I could be doing as an actor. The movie comes out on December 26 and there are two possible results. Either you get "good try" and it disappears or there is a commercial result and (my backers) decide their investment is potent enough to put the money back on No 7 and roll again.

The Water Diviner opens on Boxing Day.

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