Last December, Russell Crowe gave an interview to an Australian outlet and he ended up causing a controversy. His male privilege leaked out all over the place when he chatted about how actresses over the age of 35 just need to accept their age and stop trying to play the ingenue, and that it’s a total myth that actresses have problems finding parts beyond a certain age. He was widely criticized, as he should have been. Well, Rusty has a new film – The Water Diviner – and he’s on a big press tour. He sat down with The Guardian for a wide-ranging (and actually pretty entertaining) interview – you can read the full piece here. Towards the end of the interview, he was asked about those December comments, and he tries to clarify. Some highlights from The Guardian piece:
He doesn’t believe actors should do endorsements/ads: “Look, there will possibly come a time when I start doing commercials and you’ll know then that I’ve just given up. Other people can do whatever they want. It’s just my thing. But it’s just reaping, you know? We’re supposed to play different characters. We’re not supposed to lock ourselves and become an icon. I have a … A certain opinion about that level of vanity.”
His life after his Oscar win: “Even walking down the street was a pain in the arse. People want a piece of you. And something else happens, man. You build all these friendships and then you hit a certain level within the business and those people need you now, if you’re connected to their thing, their thing gets done, their life is enriched, and friendships get damaged because you say no. Suddenly I was destroying people’s hopes and dreams if I said no to something. It was rather intense.”
He never wanted to live in LA or London: “It’s not healthy as me for an individual, to sleep in the office. There’s an ease that I have living in Australia. The best things about Sydney are free: the sunshine’s free and the harbour’s free and the beach is free. Some cities, and this place [London] is one example, there’s all these clubs and you need membership and, you know, six people to tick your name and all that. F–k all that, man.”
His comments about actresses and aging: “It doesn’t matter what age you are, right? But what I said about knowing 40-year-old women who are absolutely certain that because they eat the right things, they do yoga, look after their bodies … they look sensational, but that still doesn’t mean they look 21. In their eyes, there’s not the ingenue kind of innocence. I can’t be the gladiator any more. I don’t have that kind of physicality. Look the thing that people are talking about in terms of ageism or sexism or whatever, that’s prevalent everywhere and it’s male and female. When my dad was 45, he was suddenly unemployable. He’d always been the boss, always been in control, but now, in the job he was doing, there was a 25 year old who could do it for half the money. So that’s life. But the examples I used – Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep – there’s a dozen women, Maggie Smith and whatever …I’m just saying: be comfortable in your own skin. Sure, you know, if you’re lucky enough you get to be the ingenue, but then at a certain point, you’re the dowager. But enjoy playing that role too.”
Rusty still doesn’t get it, does he? “If you’re lucky enough you get to be the ingenue, but then at a certain point, you’re the dowager…” Yes, Rusty, that’s exactly the problem. It’s not that actresses are complaining about playing dowagers, it’s that the only roles for women in most Hollywood films are the ingénue or the hard-scrabble mom or grandmother. The issue is not with the state of mind with any particular actress, the issue is with the system that devalues female characters and the breadth of experiences of women at every age. And the fact that Russell Crowe is still considered a leading man and a go-to guy for studios at his age (50) is proof positive that the system isn’t working for actresses.
Photos courtesy of WENN.