November 5, 1999
Crowe studied whistleblower inside out-out
BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Russell Crowes performance as tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand in The Insider for director Michael Mann has critics groping for superlatives. The 35-year-old New Zealand native, now living in Australia, recently spoke by phone with the Enquirer; here are highlights of the conversation:
QUESTION: The movie appears to be a sensation, and theyre keeping you busy doing interviews. On television, you always look like youd rather be somewhere else. This is not your favorite thing to do, is it?
A: Not at all. . . . Playing a character like Wigand in Michaels movie and doing the chin-wag are opposite poles. Me sitting around talking about myself for days on end is totally the most boring and mentally damaging thing I could ever do.
Q: You undergo an amazing physical transformation to turn yourself into Jeffrey Wigand. What can you tell us about how you turned yourself into him?
A: I went on a steady diet of Bourbon and cheeseburgers and basically adopted a sedentary life . . . Plus, Im going from 35 to 52, and the weight served the age. Michael Mann gave me a Mack truck full of paperwork on Jeffrey, on chemistry. I did some work with a chemistry teacher, I did Japanese language classes because Wigand can speak Japanese fluently. Thats my job, mate, thats what I do.
Q: The critics have loved you right from the start (in movies such as The Sum of Us and L.A. Confidential). The fans seem to be catching up fast. On eBay, your autographed pictures are going for close to $50 a pop.
A: Yeah, its a terrible sort of cottage industry. I dont mean that in a way that I resent fans who truly want an autographed photo.
Q: Your pictures are also showing up under headings like Hot Hollywood Hunks. Is that a problem for a serious actor?
A: Again, in reality its got nothing to do with me. Its got nothing to do with playing a character. Its got nothing to do with immersing yourself in someone elses personality. Its just a byproduct of the gig. I dont have a negative thought at all about people who like movies. I got autographed pictures too, mate.
Q: Youve spoken in the past about making movies back home as much as you can. Youre in such demand in Hollywood now, can you keep that up?
A: You kinda make movies everywhere then, dont you? Films an international medium. But Ive got to stay true to the way I originally started making decisions about scripts, and thats do the one that gives me the goose bumps.
Q: How much, right now, do you miss your ranch?
A: Quite considerably. When I get back, Ive got a whole six weeks to myself, so Ill be OK. I try to see as many sunsets and sunrises as I can. Im not meaning to romanticize it. Its my home. Thats where I live. When I get there I really respect it.
You can't fight a war on terror if you're ending a sentence with a preposition. In the Middle East, that's seen as a sign of weakness. When it comes to writing expository essays on counter insurgency tactics, I'm of the old school. First you tell them how you're going to kill them. Then you kill them. Then you tell them how you just killed them. ~ John Hodgman, The Daily Show>, April 25, 2006