The Nice Guys Russell Crowe Interview

Russell Crowe sits down in London to talk about The Nice Guys, his brilliant new 1970s set buddy film co-starring Ryan Gosling and directed by genre legend Shane Black. 

I guess you can write chemistry in a script but bringing that to life on the screen is different. You and Ryan are wonderful to watch, was it fun to play?

Yeah, you know, you can’t manufacture that, you either have it or you don’t. But the key to it is not that complex, it is just about listening. If you are listening to each other and tuned in it doesn’t matter what left step he takes or improv he is going to do, I can go with him as I haven’t anticipated or made any assumptions, and it goes both ways. That is essentially all you are seeing, a couple of guys who are very aware that the other guy can do anything at any given moment, so you best tune in.

Is that really his Ryan Gosling’s actual scream we hear in the film?

It freaks me out, it is the best scream in feature film since Gene Wilder. That is a hell of a scream.

The on-screen bromance you have with Ryan is great, did you follow the script strictly or was there a lot of improv?

Well, the cool thing about working with Shane at this point of his life where he has had the ups and downs, is that he understands you have to trust who you hire. We were both very respectful of the script and will do it the way it reads but we also brought ideas everyday and said what if we move it like this or that, and Shane trusted that we would work in the spirit of what he intended. There is a lot of stuff improvised on a daily basis and it isn’t discussed, it is just in the movie and you go with it.

We have spoken about the chemistry with Ryan but we also get a reunion of you and Kim after LA Confidential. What was it like to hook up with Kim again?

You have to tread carefully in London!

Maybe hook up wasn’t the right word! (Laughter)

It was great seeing Kim again. We were talking and realised we hadn’t been in the same room together for over a decade, but it is a very different cinematic relationship than before. We had so many hours together on LA Confidential that we had a very intimate friendship and that still remains. That is the funny thing about this business, you can go on a cycle and not see each other for years but if you connected you still connect the next time you see each other, so it was great to see her and all that but a very different work experience this time.

Back to Ryan, was there any problem with corpsing or cracking up between takes?

 See, this is great I am in a country where people know what corpsing is, in America they’re like, I have no idea what that is! If you take the 26 years of making lead roles in feature films prior to The Nice Guys, the amount of times I will have corpsed on camera in that whole time, 49, 50 films, whatever, would be less then any given week making Nice Guys. This little b*****d makes me laugh. Sometimes I would suspect he was up all night thinking of a way to make me laugh, he has a natural comedic gift and he is a funny b*****d, so yeah, I laughed my head off all the time. This one scene, we had blocked off the Sunset, very simple shot, we have to come in, do a couple of lines of dialogue then drive away. And Ryan is just not on the script: he is just jamming on some idea that is in his head about German spank films and I am falling apart in the car trying to get my lines out as he goes into the pseudo German he does with such conviction. So he is doing all that and you have Joel Silver standing in the Sunset saying “I have the whole street blocked off to shoot my movie, not tonight guys, not tonight.” So we are sitting in the car and I say to Ryan “so we going to  stick to the script” and Ryan says, “no”.

What was it like to work with the younger cast?

 We had a sort of joke of Angorie being the most mature person on set. It was kind of a joke but it was kind of real too. She was always prepared, she came ready to give everything. She had very limited experience but a fine intellect and a real enthusiasm for the craft, so it was great. The thing is to get her to that place of comfort, apart from the work 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”. She started to flower because she felt comfortable and could own the space.

Why does your character live where he does?

We thought it was a brilliant idea. We shot a little piece that is not in the movie where he just sits in his apartment deep in thought and you can hear the laughter from the live shows going on downstairs, and over time you see the laughter seep in to him and he then smiles. I don’t know what it meant but it was really cool to shoot. You know he has no friends, no life and you can see his history in that apartment and how it looks.

You mentioned intentionally messing around during an important scene, did that make shooting the film a much longer process?

When did I say one scene? Everyday, every scene, can I make it clearer. If Ryan was here he would say he thought his character was called schmuck because every time we turned around that is what we heard the most from Joel looking at the monitors.

If you do get an opportunity to revisit these characters for a sequel are there things you would like to see in that?

Interesting thing about sequels, it seems every movie I do someone asks in a press conference if there will be a sequel and then it never happens. So now you’ve f*cked it up for everyone! I mean, certainly there is a lot we can do with these characters so it could be fun. For some reason Ryan and I think the title “The Nice Guys Mexican Detectives” is hilarious and I don’t know why!

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