No smoke without ire: Russell Crowe in the Insider

the American tobacco companies in the 90s and triggered a $246 million law suit. is remarkable. Not only does he play a man twenty years older than himself. but throughout the period the film covers. Wigand was paranoid and introverted: it's therefore a role requiring a very different kind of intensity than we've seen Crowe display before. Having met the real \Vigand for one afternoon only. on

all well and good. but it’s like saying: “hey. this time I‘m going to play Abe Lincoln with a moustache". The more we talked about \Vigand. the more I had to get as close to the guy. physically. as possible.‘

In its own way. playing Wigand was as physically demanding for Crowe as the Roman soldier turned gladiator. Maximus. ‘Quite frankly. if I couldn’t get any

out the cow that looks like she’s ready to give birth. then it‘s half a day‘s walk. You can jump on a tractor or an ATV. but more often than not. I'll just go straight out of the door and whistle at the dogs and keep walking. I‘m in a very people-intensive job. Having a bit of space is really important. It’s the things I do outside acting that actually fuel and inform the acting.”

drove me crazy and I fucking loved it.’ Russell Crowe

a golf course. Crowe’s preparation for the part included perfecting a Brooklyn accent. dyeing. thinning and shaving his hair. and gaining 50 pounds through a diet of bourbon and cheeseburgers.

‘NIichael‘s attitude was: "this is the movie Jeffrey Wigand: it‘s not the real Jeffrey

Wigand. I don’t require you to look. talk or

even walk like him".' recalls Crowe. ‘That‘s

recognition from playing this role [Wigand]. I wouldn’t know what the hell I could do.‘ says Crowe. ‘Maybe play a dog. It took me only about six weeks to really begin to see the effects of a sedentary lifestyle: it took me five months to remove it.‘

Physical fitness is usually a given for

C rowe. who runs a 560 acre farm seven hours north of Sydney. ‘If you want to go and check

And then he lights a cigarette. 'l'm a great fan of irony. mate. And I've never accused myself of being smart. I know the chemical composition to commercially blended tobaccos back to front. but I still don’t stop smoking. Maybe that's an indication of how addictive this drug is.’

The Insider opens Fri 10 Mar. See review, page 24.


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2--'6 ‘~.'a' 20-30 THE LIST9