The Nice Guys - Russell Crowe interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
RUSSELL Crowe talks about working with Shane Black and Ryan Gosling on ’70s noir The Nice Guys and why he found it more difficult to keep a straight face while filming this than any of his other movies combined.
He also talks about working with his younger cast, including Angourie Rice, whether he’d be up for a sequel and fills in some of the background to his tough, no-nonsense character. He was speaking at a UK press conference…
Q. There’s good chemistry and there’s brilliant chemistry and yourself and Ryan Gosling have the latter. Was it fun to play?
Russell Crowe: Yeah. But you can’t manufacture that. You either have it or you don’t. But the key to it… it’s not really that complex. It’s just about listening. If you’re listening to each other and you’re tuned into each other it doesn’t matter what left step he takes, or what improv he decides to do, I can go with him because I’m actually listening to him. I don’t anticipate what he’s going to do, or make any assumptions, and that goes both ways. But that’s really all you’re seeing – a couple of guys, who are very aware that the other guy could do anything at any given moment, so you’d best tune in.
Q. Is that his real scream?
Russell Crowe: It freaks me out! It’s the worst scream in cinema since Gene Wilder – and that’s saying something [Laughs]! That’s a hell of a scream!
Q. The on-screen bro-mance is really fun to watch. Did you follow the script or did you get to improv?
Russell Crowe: Well, the cool thing about working with Shane [Black] at this period of his life, where he’s had the ups and downs and the slings and arrows, he’s at a point where he really does understand that you’ve got to trust who you hire. Now, we’re both very respectful of the script and will do it the way it reads. But then we also bring ideas every day. We’ll say: “Well, what about if we move it like this, or move it like that?” And Shane just trusted that we would work within the spirit of what he intended. We wouldn’t just be doing some other movie. So, there’s a lot of stuff on a daily basis. And some of it’s not discussed; some of it’s in the moment, some of it’s apparent and you go for it.
Q. We get a bit of a reunion between yourself and Kim Basinger following your work together in LA Confidential. So, what was it like hooking up with her again?
Russell Crowe: It was great seeing Kim again. We were actually talking and realised we hadn’t been in the same room together for over a decade. I mean, it’s a very different cinematic relationship in this one compared to what we did before, because we had so many hours together when we worked on LA Confidential. We had a real intimate friendship, which was great. But that still remains. It’s the funny thing about this business, you can go through a cycle and not see each other for years and years and years but if you connect, then you still connect the next time you see each other. So, it was fun to see her but a very different work experience.
Q. Were there any problems with corpsing or cracking up too much in between takes with Ryan?
Russell Crowe: [Laughs] It’s great, we’re in a country that knows was corpsing means. You do the press in America and they have no idea what it means. Um, if you take the 26 years of making lead roles in feature films prior to The Nice Guys, the amount of time that I would have corpsed on camera in that whole time, in 49 feature films or whatever, would be less than any given week of shooting The Nice Guys. This little bastard makes me laugh. Sometimes I’d suspect that he was up all night just trying to think of a way of making me laugh in a scene because he has this natural comedic gift and he’s a funny bastard. So, I laughed my head off all the time.
We had a funny story where we’d blocked off a section of Sunset [Boulevard], you know, and it was a very simple shot. We just had to pull in, look at a billboard, say a couple of lines of dialogue, and then drive off… done, the scene’s over. But we pull in and Ryan’s not on the script. He’s jamming about some idea that’s in his head about German spank films [laughs] and I’m just falling apart in the car. I can’t get my dialogue out because then he goes into that pseudo German that he does in the movie with such conviction. And he’s got about 25 works that sound like he means ‘shit’ or ‘asshole’ but none of them are actually real. But you then have Joel Silver standing in the middle of Sunset going: “I’ve got the whole goddam street to shoot my movie – not tonight guys, not tonight!!!!!” So, then I ask Ryan: “Are we going to shoot the script now?” And he whispers: “No!”
Q. What was it like working with the younger cast?
Russell Crowe: There’s a sort of joke we’ve been making about Angourie [Rice] being the most mature person on-set. It’s kid of a joke but i’s kind of real too. She was always prepared and always ready to give everything. She had very limited experience but a fine intellect and a real enthusiasm for the craft. The thing is, to get her to that place of comfort, apart from the work that Shane did with her… Ryan put a lot of effort into that. A few days ago we were having a chat and I said: “I just knew you were going to be a great dad when I saw you do that.” He took time. He was gentle with her. He was open and she just started to flower because she felt comfortable and she could own the space.
But as an example of Ryan’s work ethic, in the audition process he researched each of the little girls who were coming in, so he had a question he could ask them relating to previous jobs they had done, or where they came from, or whatever he could uncover. Again, it’s another indicator of what he did to make people comfortable in those kind of situations.
Q. There has already been talk of a sequel. Would you be up for that?
Russell Crowe: The strange thing with the idea of sequels, it seems like every movie that I ever do, people at press conferences or interviews bring up the idea. And it seems to me that every time that somebody brings it up, it just doesn’t happen. Gee whiz! I don’t know. Certainly, we didn’t throw everything against the wall with these characters. There’s a lot to mine. So, it could be fun. For some reason, Ryan and I think the title The Nice Guys: Mexican Detectives is hilarious. I can’t even say it without laughing. I don’t know why.
Q. There’s a lot more for these characters to say. But we do learn a lot more about Ryan’s character than yours. Was that always deliberate?
Russell Crowe: I think it’s very clear that he’s dislocated. He’s an East Coast guy and he’s living on the West Coast. If you really look at his costume, there’s a uniform aspect to it. And you can probably sift through and sense that he probably spent some time in the Navy, which has got a lot to do with the sparseness of his apartment and his efficiency and all that. But the detail of his life is just not really required in this movie. It’s all just sitting there behind his eyes.