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New Zealander Russell Crowe, whose second American role this
is after starring with Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman in "The
Quick and The Dead", recalls that "when I first read the script, I loved its
wit and its pace and the fact that it says a lot about man's
ambition for himself at the beginning of the atomic age."
Crowe plays Ross, the down-at-heel American journalist with
whom Myra falls in love.|
For Crowe - the hot young actor who received international acclaim for his shattering performance as an Australian skinhead in "Romper Stomper" - "Rough Magic" marked a remarkable change of pace and style.
Crowe can run you through Ross's entire fictional history, from his upbringing in Westchester (NY), to his war experience photographing the survivors of Nagasaki. Crowe says he read every article on Mexico published during 1949 and 1950 to get a flavour of the place and the era.
"After he faced what he saw at Nagasaki, it's pretty hard for Ross to contemplate going back to normal society, which is one of the reasons he's roaming around Central America," says Crowe.
"How could he relate to his mother, for instance, what he'd been doing for the past four years? How could he tell her what it was like to have thirty dead bodies lying on top of him, friends of his? How could he tell her what the stench was like at Iwo Jima? But now he's looking for something to believe in, and Myra is it."
Crowe adds: "He is a very complicated man. Deep inside him, there is a terrible contradiction; he seeks and demands your trust and yet he will happily double cross you and let you down."
Crowe admits with some amusement that he's played Ross" as a parody of film noir tough guys. Just how many cigarettes can he smoke in a movie and at what inopportune moments?" In fact there's barely a frame in the film when Ross isn't dragging on a cigarette or chugging another Mexican beer.
At the centre of the film is the relationship between Myra and Ross, and for Crowe what's important is the two characters are complementary in so many ways. "He has heart, she loses hers. She has spirituality, his is gone. They are a predestined couple in a traditional film noir sense."
Russell Crowe became a star in New Zealand with his second feature "The Crossing", just four years ago and his subsequent rise to international stardom has been meteoric.
Crowe spent his childhood on film sets, his parents being caterers in the movie business. Despite his remarkable range, however, Crowe never studied acting. Before breaking into movies and TV, he worked at a number of fringe jobs in the entertainment industry, including calling bingo to pensioners and as a DJ and MC in nightclubs.
At 25, he was offered his first film part and since then he has figured in over a dozen features, in a great variety of roles, from fascist skinhead in "Romper Stomper" to the naive Welsh labourer in "Love in Limbo". He also stars as a repentant bandit in Sam Raimi's "The Quick and The Dead", which closed the year's Cannes Film Festival.
Crowe has also featured in "Prisoners of the Sun", "Hammers over the Anvil", with Charlotte Rampling, "The Efficiency Expert" with Anthony Hopkins and starred in an Australian adaptation of a children's tale, "The Silver Brumby".
Perhaps the role which etches itself most indelibly on people's minds was the part that won Crowe the prestigious Australian Film Institute's Best Actor award in 1992 as Hando in the controversial "Romper Stomper". Crowe was also nominated for "Proof" by Jocelyn Moorhouse. He also received numerous other awards, including Best Actor award at the Seattle International Film Festival in 1993.
Crowe will soon be appearing in "No Way Back" with Michael Lerner and Helen Slater, and in "Virtuosity" with Denzel Washington.
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