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Russell Crowe   ('3:10 To Yuma') Russell Crowe ('3:10 To Yuma')

'The Train Keeps A Rollin'

Russell Crowe has never been an actor to suffer fools gladly, both on and off the screen. With his sense of humour perennially intact as he greets the media in a Beverly Hills hotel room, there is no mention of bad behaviour, as both actor and press generally remain on their best behaviour!

With the New Zealand-born Aussie in town to promote his extraordinary performance as charming bad guy Ben Wade in the '3:10 to Yuma' remake, Crowe says his criteria for choosing a new project has not really changed in the past near two decades. Its the same as its always been, in terms of the story and character, which are my primary focus when I read a script, Crowe explains, thoughtfully. I dont think that Ive become more selective over time, but I think I came into it being selective. I just did things that appealed to me and theyre not always going to be things that the head of a studio thinks will appeal as well.

Crowe, whose characters range from a reluctant gladiator, to a brilliant mathematician and now leader of a gang of outlaws in 19th century America, says despite the plethora of diverse characters he has played, the charismatic 43-year old concedes that good characters have always been a challenge to find. Its always been that way, especially in my life in the movies. You get a lot of opportunities that come with a big pay cheque and all that sort of stuff but dont necessarily appeal to you. There are also a lot of people who are absolutely dead set certain that this is something that you would love to do, then you start reading it and its not something that turns you on, so I think youve got to stay true to yourself in that way. I read a script, and if I get goose bumps, if I kind of like what the potential of it is, then thats the thing that I do.

'3:10 to Yuma,' a western drama chronicling the complex relationship between an outlaw [Crowe] and an impoverished rancher [Christian Bale] appealed to the Australian country boy who played pretend as a kid growing up in New Zealand. After all, while the film is a dark character-based drama, its still a Western with all its mythological trappings. Look at the list of what you get to do: Ride horses, play with guns, speak in a funny voice, and wear pointy boots, Crowe says, smiling. Its a good list in terms of what youre talking about and you would approach something like this probably thinking This is going to be a bit of fun.

This is not the first time Crowe appeared in a Western, recalling his first experience shooting The Quick and the Dead a decade earlier. That was pleasant, being warm during the day, a little cold late at night, nothing much. So I thought this would be fine and then I realised once Id gotten there, that Santa Fes actually 7,500 feet above sea level and its now going to be significantly colder, Crowe recalls on the Yuma shoot. So Peter Fonda actually started a scale and said that he couldnt act on location in period costume at below thirteen degrees. So I thing the Screen Actors Guild should look into this, says Crowe, laughing.

A passionate horseman himself, Russell brought some of that into his love for this film, but it was more than that. I really enjoyed the thought of the story. The main thing is reading the script, seeing the dynamic of the characters all of which looked like it was going to be fun, so thats why I did it. It also gave the actor a chance to practice his gunplay, something that he familiarised himself with while preparing for Quick and the Dead. On that I met this guy Phil Reid, whos an armourer. Coming from Australia, I didnt have any experience with the gun culture, so Id never actually held a handgun until I was on the set of Quick and the Dead. That gave Phil was a complete blank slate so he could sort of put the information in my head that you need to do that sort of thing over time, and its been a long time now that Ive known Mr Reid and Ive probably done half a dozen or more movies with him and he just sort of keeps giving me tips. Weve actually done silly things a long time ago gone off and done shooting competitions together as a team, but thats a very specific skill. You dont get to use that very often, so its good when a western comes around then you can use it.

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