From the August issue of City Dweller Magazine: Terry George speaks to Russell Crowe about his love for Leeds United, his band’s performance at Leeds City Varieties and how he’s up for a Gladiator sequel!
From winning Academy Awards to starring in huge musicals, you’ve achieved an incredible amount during your career. What work are you most proud of and why?
Making movies and music is one thing, but being a dad is what personally brings me the most joy.
In terms of my work life, for the past 12 years being the Custodian and Owner of the South Sydney Rugby League club and redirecting that organisation, culminating in a Premiership win for the first time in 43 years in 2014 stands out. The positive effect on the community continues to resonate.
In movies, I have my favourites sure, Cinderella Man, LA Confidential, Noah, A Beautiful Mind and all the movies I’ve done with Ridley Scott (Gladiator, American Gangster, Robin Hood and more).
I enjoyed directing The Water Diviner (his 2014 directorial debut) very much and hope to direct more in the future too.
You’ve got a big connection to the city of Leeds, being a Leeds United fan. Can you tell us when you first started supporting the club and why?
When I was a kid in Sydney, after playing Saturday sport in the morning (Rugby Union, League, Cricket and one season as a goalkeeper) there was Match of the Day (on television). In the early 70’s Leeds was a dominant team and they were featured every other week. So I chose Leeds as my team.
What’s your fondest memory as a Leeds fan over the years?
When we held our rightful place.
You were linked with buying the club last year, can you tell us if there was ever any truth behind these rumours?
I looked into it quite seriously with a group of people. I firmly believe it’s the great sleeping dinosaur of English football. When I started to evaluate the cost of time to my family, I realised that the challenge was beyond me. Someone else will have to take up that gauntlet…
You’re coming to Leeds City Varieties in September as part of the ‘Indoor Garden Party’, can you tell us a bit about this?
September 29th is the date, it’s a night of stories and songs. The album ‘The Musical’ is out on iTunes so people can have a listen to the type of music we do.
In the band you’re joined by Alan Doyle, Samantha Barks, Scott Grimes and Carl Falk. Can you tell us what inspired you to work with these people?
I started writing songs with Alan Doyle in 2004. He was in a Canadian band Great Big Sea that I was a huge fan of. He’d heard that I’d been covering one of his songs, we met backstage at the glamorous NHL awards, a big deal in Canada and just hit it off and started talking music.
We’ve been writing together since then and the Indoor Garden Party has just grown naturally over those years.
We started the concerts with the idea of bringing friends with amazing voices on stage with us and over time Scott and Samantha just became part of what we do. I met Scott on the set of Mystery, Alaska in 1998, we connected through music and I have always loved his voice.
Samantha sang the role of Eponine in movie of Les Miserables and at some point I played her a tune I’d written and introduced her to Alan. She started doing live shows with us in 2012 in New York.
I met Carl at a party in LA in 2010 and played him some songs, he produced an album for Alan and I called ‘The Songbook vol iii’ and through that became an integral part of what we do and he also produced this latest album.
Obviously singing is something you’ve previously done a lot in your career alongside acting. Where do you see your musical career going?
My first record came out in 1981 or 82 and music has always been in my life.
I’m not really ambitious when it comes to music, I love writing songs, I love performing, there’s no grand plan.
Finally, what does the future hold for Russell Crowe? Is there any truth to the huge rumours of a Gladiator sequel?
I’ve shifted my life around to spend more time with my kids and less time on the road working. They are 13 and 11 now and changing week to week, I realised their boyhood would be over in a blink if I wasn’t careful. I love my work and I love the energy and passion of a film set, but I love my kids more.
I’ve got a couple of exciting projects coming up where the challenge is daunting but the schedules are short so that’ll keep me on my toes. It also looks like I might finally get to be in a movie with Nicole Kidman.
(In terms of a Gladiator sequel) I’ll make any movie Ridley Scott wants to make. If he calls tomorrow and says it’s on, you’ll find me in the gym.
Tickets to see Russell Crowe and the rest of the Indoor Garden Party band members at Leeds City Varieties on 29th September available on www.cityvarieties.co.uk