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When an actor can do their own stunts, it adds another layer to a performance and infuses a special texture. Actor Russell Crowe, who will soon be seen in the thriller Unhinged, is someone who's definitely familiar with that sort of thing. As classic roles in films like L.A. Confidential and the Academy Award-winning classic Gladiator used the actor’s physicality to great effect, this leads to any moment on screen where you can truly see Crowe in the heat of an actual action sequence looking so damned easy. And you can thank one surprising reason for those intense performances: Russell Crowe likes to pal around with stunt coordinators.
This fact came about during a recent interview with Deadline, where Russell Crowe reflected on several key aspects that helped him fall in love with, and eventually become a part of, the movie business. After being an avid theatergoer as a child, and being a stage performer in bands and musicals prior to his days as a cinematic professional, Crowe kind of fell into the more physically taxing aspects of his work. He stated:
I often get close to the stunt coordinators on films because it’s something that I like to do. And have a natural affinity for. They all talk to me about, ‘So what fight experience do you have that brings you to this level?’... You know, yeah I did sort of martial arts and stuff as a younger kid, but in reality it’s dance choreography in musicals that gives me an edge in how to understand what we’re doing in a fight.
Just picture it: the same moves that saw Russell Crowe make his way through musical on the stage went into fight sequences like those of his legendary character, Maximus Decimus Meridius, in director Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Those same performance moves could have also helped with multi-faceted approach to anything from Virtuosity to even The Insider, which only further speaks to Crowe’s versatility as an actor.
It does all come at a price though, as Russell Crowe has apparently sworn off of stunt work for some time. As The Daily Mail had reported back in 2016, a series of injuries have taken their toll on Crowe, and he somewhat regrets being overeager to get into the scrum on set. However, that hasn’t dimmed his appreciation of actors doing their own stunts, and that particularly comes to light with his simple philosophy on why fight sequences are so important for actors to tackle:
A fight sequence isn’t a separate event. A fight sequence is something that you’re living the character through.
While not everyone can do their own stunts, and those qho do will eventually have to learn when they’ve reached their limit, the moments that are captured on screen echo in eternity. So while we may not see Russell Crowe wielding swords or getting into elaborately choreographed fights, we’ll always have those times that he did fresh in our minds. Speaking of fresh, Unhinged brings a brand new Russell Crowe film, straight to re-opening theaters where available, on August 21.