Russell Crowe talks at the preview screening of his first film as a director, The Water Diviner.

Russell Crowe: “The story chose me”

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival hit its stride on Friday night with Russell Crowe jetting in to show a sold-out crowd at the Savoy Cinema an advanced screening of his feature-length directorial debut The Water Diviner. The film provided a modicum of entertainment for the packed crowd without leaving anyone gobsmacked, but the real fun started when the Gladiator star emerged for a Question and Answer session, hosted by festival director Gráinne Humphreys, who proved as charismatic a host as Crowe was an interviewee.

Crowe began by giving his thoughts on why he had chosen this story for his first ever full-length directing effort. He said, “In the oddest of ways, the story chose me. I was in the middle of the busiest professional experience I’d ever experienced. I’d done five films in sixteen months; Man of Steel, Broken City, Les Miserables, Noah and Winters Tale. Just a couple of little gigs!

“I was on a particular trajectory and I was developing and planning other things and I read the script and everything just changed! I’ve got to have that visceral reaction; I’ve got to get the goosebumps. I’ve got to feel it inside. I need to feel like I’m connected to it, you know? Otherwise you’re just not going to get me up at 4 o’clock in the f***ing morning. I’ve got to be passionate about it. So I was getting that out of the script and then this voice that I’d actually never heard before said, ‘you have to take responsibility for this’. Only you can see this story the way it should be told.”

“I started realising, that’s the voice of guys like Ridley [Scott], or Peter Weir, you know? If you’re on a set with Ridley Scott, he’s the only person in the world who can tell the story. That’s his attitude and that’s what it takes. I just had this overwhelming feeling that I had to take responsibility for it and that’s what ended up happening”.

Crowe is best known for his work in Hollywood blockbusters such as Les Mis, Gladiator and many more, but has noticed his age recently when meeting the next generation of movie directors. “I’m not sure what it is, maybe it’s my age, or a certain collection of experiences or whatever, but for a long time I was only ever on film sets with directors who were significantly older than me. Then some inaudible click happened and I find myself on sets with directors who are significantly younger than me! But it doesn’t matter whose set I go on, if it’s Ridley Scott or whoever, I’ve made more movies than they have. I’ve been on more sets, I’ve been in more problem-solving environments so it kind of becomes at a certain point, the weight of that experience.

“I’ve always been an actor that’s concerned about where I am at a particular moment in the story. I like to know what the camera movement is going to be, what the lens is. What is the director actually looking for from a shot? Because then essentially I can just deliver to him quicker and more efficiently and we can break for lunch! Let’s not f*** around, tell me what you want and I’ll do it!”

The Water Diviner hits cinemas in the UK and Ireland on April 3rd.

Image: Russel Crowe at the fan screening of Noah in Edinburgh © Martin Grimes © Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International.

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Donagh Corby
Donagh started working in the League of Ireland in 2010 at the age of 12. Since then his videos have amassed over two hundred thousand views on Youtube and he has worked with RTE, Ireland's National Broadcaster, as well as newspapers and radio stations all over the country. He has won awards for his work, including the inaugural Football Blogging Award. You can follow him on twitter @DonaghCorby_
Donagh Corby

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