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CROWE, RUSSELL – A BEAUTIFUL MIND

FINDING NASH
From The Insider to Gladiator, the world could see that Russell Crowe has range; and now with A Beautiful Mind, he shows he also has stamina and consistency as an actor who can tackle character roles and always come up with a star performance. But it takes a good director – and some work, as he explains to Andrew L. Urban.

Did you enjoy the process of making A Beautiful Mind?
I had a great time with Ron Howard, mate. A really good time.

Everybody says he’s a terrific guy…
Oh, mate, it’s not just that he’s a terrific guy; he’s a really skilled film craftsman. That’s why we got on. He’s very confident about his knowledge, and about the things he’s done in his career. So it’s very easy to talk to him. It’s easy to have a disagreement that doesn’t become anything more than … than …

A difference of opinion…
Exactly. And sharing of information. Considering how strange the script is and how strange the character was, we had a very easy time. And I think it’s quite an important movie. That was the great thing about walking off that set; I felt that we’d done something important every day.

You do a lot of research sometimes for roles like this…
Most of the time.

What research did you do for this one?
Well, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma in that even though John Forbes Nash was a famous figure within mathematical circles, he wasn’t a public figure. Now we’re dealing with Princeton at the end of the 40s and early 50s and there is no footage available of him as a young man. Even though he’s still alive, about 74 now, and I did happen to meet him. But unlike with The Insider, where I could examine this bloke two or three years after the situation happened, so he hadn’t aged significantly. But I had black and white photographs of Nash as a young man so I could see Nash. I asked Ron to go and interview him with specific questions that I had, because Ron’s more likely to get a more even, less adrenalised answer than if I’m sitting there asking the questions. The reason for the dilemma is that after 35 years of ageing and medication, and being quite heavily affected by the disease, he didn’t appear to be the older man of the younger self. So I didn’t want to take too much in of him as an older man because I had that journey to do. So I had to kind of imagine him as a younger man. And, as we had to do with a lot of the script, take the things we knew and make the rest of it up in order to give the audience, hopefully, the experience he went through. And there’s a couple of tricks in the movie that shock people every time it’s screened.

So for you it’s an important role…
Well, the script was fantastic, and when you see the film you’ll see what I’m talking about and the challenge that I faced and you’ll know the beauty of the relationship between John and his wife Alicia.

This is a transcript of part of an interview recorded November 2001.

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On the set with director Ron Howard







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