Crowe - The Press
|A Plunge in the boxing and in the
|from "Jornal de BrasŪlia",
Brazil, 22/08/2005 - translation by Ivani
By Martin Palmer
Special for Jornal de BrasŪlia
The character you play is very determined. Do you identify yourself with
him? Actors need to be so committed?
My determination is the passion for what I do. I am in a very privileged situation Ė I work in a form of art very complicated and with people who know what they are
doing. So, although in the last years I have been in a
situation, which I wish because of my determination, there were moments in my life when I walked in the streets looking for a way of
surviving. So, I experienced what is not having material
goods, only a guitar. My determination, my passion is for the narrative and I believe it is a very important part of the culture. My goal is to affect people in a way that when they go to the
moves, for a time at least, they forget all the things for which they are going through in their own lives and disappear in another age for a
Talk about James J. Braddock.
Jim Braddock had to make a decision even very young. Boxing was the best job to have at that time and he had the courage of doing this job. He was the best and the most
determined. But I never saw Jim Braddock as a man who lived only for the
boxing. The boxing, for him, was a way of going out of a situation and,
then, he was after that. When he was young, he was in fact a boxer, not a
ruffian, he was not a guy who had only a powerful punch. He developed that over the time. Because of certain
injuries, he had to go on, go ahead and finished the fight as soon as
possible. And he was well succeeded in this for a while.
But, things began to not result well anymore. In 1929, he fought with a guy named Tommy Lochlan for the mid heavy weight
championship, he had a boxing class in 15 rounds and this had affected his self-confidence and coincided with the Great
Depression. Braddock was a very responsible young man and saved all his money. He did not waste and even not live out of his
He loses money in the Stock Exchange?
Yes. He lost something everybody told him to do at that time, what it was of investing in
shares/stocks. He invested 85% of what he had in that fateful day, in October 1929, and lost
everything. The rest of his money was fastened in a cab company in Manhattan and, by the research we
did, we know he needed more than 3 months to go out of, what it took him to the bankruptcy
sometimes. Then, the period of time we show, in a fast changing of clothe to
another, itís already full of details and complications that could
be, only by themselves, a movie. Suffice it to say, as we do in the movie, that things were bad. He did not keep the pain Ė he accepted it and tried to do the best for his family.
Australian boxer Kostya Tszyu was important to help you to portray the
role? Did you ask him for advices?
Yes, I did. First, I attend to a Kostyaīs training with Angelo Dundee and Angelo
said: ďMate, you are going to see how it isĒ. And Kostya entered at the gym and the first thing he did to heat was jumping for 26 minutes Ė try to do this one day and you will see how itís
difficult. Right after, he did 20 minutes of climber, then he went to the sand bag for 30
minutes, and then to the underdog for more 30 minutes, following he did a series of exercises for 30
minutes, shadow boxing for 30 or 45 minutes, jumped again, he did lifting with elbows
stopped, in his back, that is how to lift your weigh by the elbows or taking out the feet and he did sequences of 1, 2, 3 minutes and then of 3, 2, one minute. Try it. Itís
difficult. So, his hands were taped and he trained with 5
guys, 3 rounds. And Angelo said: ďIf you have some another
question, you can do it now (laughs)Ē. The most important of meeting Kostya is his
knowledge, his experience and his sincerity. I watched him, did some training with
him, discussed some things, he showed me another ones and I was gone
away. I trained with Angelo during some months.
You hurt your shoulder during the training. Tell us how it
My shoulder went out of its place when we were doing fighting training and then it came back with so much strength that broke the bone of the
shoulder. The result was a surgery and a long term relationship with Errol
Alcott, a physiotherapist of Australian Cricket team. He came to stay for 4 weeks and finished to stay for 7
months. By luck, he had worked for more than 22 years with Australian Cricket team and had the license
expired. So, he used all his license period in a boxing movie in Toronto
(laughs). When we came back to the training, after the
surgery, I came back to the gym with Kostya and did a whole day of training, all I had described
before. And, when we were in the second series of 3 minutes of
bending, with the legs stretched up, I let loose the legs and he
said: ďRussell, you are not so strong mentallyĒ. Then, I knew I had to
The Great Depression is almost a character of the movie. In your opinion, which is the importance of this movie
The Great Depression is for sure a character of the movie. The villain is the
poverty. Craig Bierko (world heavy weight championship) as Max Baer portrays a villain that we focus for a
while, but the poverty in general is a character. As to the importance of the movie
today, I said that is very important to remember to the
Americans, now, that there is short time ago this abundance was not a rule of the society, there is short time ago people needed to get a line to get food and only recently the structure of well social being was
created. I think Americans should realize they were positioned for a good
reason, they are not there to be exploited. I also consider that itís a good moment to remember the Americans the strength of their country is based in hard work of their parents to grant to their sonís
needs, not in the colonialism.
Braddock was a warrior?
I think that anyone who enters in a ring using a short and faces another man knowing that the result of the night will be the public humiliation of one of them has a great
courage. If it is this courage needed to be a warrior, so is
he. But itís not a soldier of fortune or a soldier of a police cause in
anyway. He just fought for the well being of his family since from the first to the last fight as a
Braddock was a truly American hero. Who would you say that itís his
In an American context, perhaps Lance Armstrong.
It has already been a while since Master & Commander. Could you talk about the break you did between the 2 movies and how fatherhood has changed
Am I different? (laughs). Being a father is simply the best thing I have experienced in life. And, if you did not go through this
experience, you will not know of what I am talking about.
This has changed the way you see your professional life?
My priorities changed. First, itís the family. I was talking about this with my wife other day. She had come back home alone, arrived at home without me and she felt herself incomplete. And I had the same
feeling/sensation. I was going to New York and arrived at the hotel room, put the luggage and,
normally, this is the sign for you relaxing and being with
yourself, preparing yourself for the work because the trip
ended. But, now we are parents, we are not going to feel self-sufficient because we are stronger as people, but more
vulnerable. All of this is still much new. My son, Charlie, has only 17 months old and our marriage has only 2
years. We are learning step by step and we know that the depth of our caress is growing and we realize that and we love it. Itís a funny
thing: when the three of us are not together, there is a piece
Do you have plans for having another son?
When Charlie is at a certain age and goes to school. If you want to know my opinion, I would have already a
dozen, but itís not only up to me (laughs). So, we will see how we will work out, but I am sure that it will be not very good for Charles growing up in this strange world alone. I think it would be good for his equilibrium and comprehension of the world if he has brothers and sisters
(whispering), but donít tell to my wife.
Paul Giamatti said you only feel happy when you are acting. Is this
I donít know. I feel happy in so many other places. I feel happy to climb a hill and see the scenery
(laughs). Paul sees me assuming responsibility in the set and imagines why I do
that, but itís a natural thing.
You boxing view has changed?
Itís necessary lots of courage for enter in a ring, probably the courage I would not be able to have in real life. I think there are some aspects of
safe, which now are included to the young, to the amateur categories till the golden
globes, what defines boxing much more as sport than without the safety
conditions. I have respect for the people who face what they need to face for being
boxers. I could be a little cynical as for the boxing as business, as for some people who are involved in this business and to the lack of consideration with the fighters who supposedly must
promote. James Braddock did not end as drug addicted, an alcoholic or as lure of a restaurant in Las Vegas, he not ended dying mysteriously in jet plane accident with US$ 10 thousand in a paper bag under his
coat. If itís not so, I would not have been interested in doing the
role. It was his re-equilibrium to the normality that makes of him the special
person. Yes, he was world heavyweight champion, but he not had to wake up every day and prove that to the whole world. He followed his
nose, seeing his children grow up and the grandchildren
You said you always want to work with Renťe Zellwegger.
She is a wonderful actress. I met her in 1998, in a coffee shop in San Diego, and we talked about this
project. Since the beginning, she said yes. I always respected her as an
actress. When she arrived at the set, she proved also to be a nice girl.