Name: Russell Ira Crowe
DOB: 7 April 1964
Place of birth: Wellington, New Zealand
Mr. Crowe, what is your biggest vice?
Smoking, by miles! I enjoy drinking, but I don’t drink daily or what have you. I am not sure if smoking even comes under vice, there’s got be some other word that underlines the absurdity of it.
Have you ever tried to quit?
I quit and then I un-quit! What I found really, really uncomfortable when I did quit is that the power of my decision-making left me. I tried to quit slowly, I tried to do other things in terms of nicotine replacement, but ultimately at the end of the day I did not achieve that goal. And then in 2010, I had not smoked for four months, I was doing a press week in New York and on the third day I went, “Just give me a fucking cigarette! But I don’t want to be an advocate for smoking or not smoking. People do the fuck whatever they want. I made the stupid decision when I was young. It was my fault, so I deal with it.
Do you interfere when your kids make stupid decisions or do you prefer to let them make their own mistakes?
Well, we’ve had situations like every parent nowadays where their explorations on the computer just take your breath away, you know, the things that your little boys’ hearts and minds are exposed to at such a tender age, things you would never even contemplated until your twenties — yet they have access to it! It’s very scary!
“It’s not necessarily what is on the screen, it is the darkness that comes out.”
It makes them grow up faster — which is not necessarily a good thing.
Exactly, cynicism can creep up on them at a younger and younger age. It’s not healthy. Sure, when you are more mature, you’ve got to know when to call bullshit. But if you get cynical too young, if you lose faith in educators and people in uniform and stuff like that, it’s not great because what’s the next thing that happens? They disappear inside their computers because that’s the only thing that gives them the surety and complexity they want out of life. When your computer games are more intrinsically exciting than a history lesson, you are in a fucking bad place.
Where does cinema come into play in this case? Is on-screen violence or sex also something you try to shield them from?
Okay, take the movie Room, for example. I can appreciate it in terms of filmmaking and the tension that grew inside me. But do I need this inside of my life? Do I need to experience that? And it’s not necessarily what is on the screen, it is the fucking darkness that comes out.
What do you mean?
It’s the things that you imagine and then you apply it to your own life. I found myself saying, “Jump, kid! Get out of that truck!” I was so invested in this film, which was wonderful — but my life didn’t change for the positive because I have had that experience and imagined what that woman was going through. Even the simple shot when the kid is looking overhead during his first time in a moving vehicle — that was a beautiful piece of filmmaking. But I am not sure if the darker aspects of humanity are instructive to us. And if the education of our kids is not our number one priority, then we don’t go forward in a positive way.
Did your parents set those kind of moral standards for you?
Sure but I guess that’s a relatively natural thing.
Are they wiser than you?
My mum definitely is! And my dad is as well. My parents are not judgmental people; they are pretty much live and let live. Their idea of a moral circle is probably not going to be a clichéd one. For example, even though they have been married for 55 years, they don’t think that should be everybody’s life. They are very grateful for each other, they have had their ups and downs and trials and tribulations… But they remained together because they are getting the extra benefit of being so comfortable with each other. When you have kids is when you really start viewing everything in life through the prism of what you want them to get out of a particular thing.
Does that change what you do or how you do it?
It does, yeah. For example, I just have a fundamental knowledge that bringing girlfriends into their lives would freak them out. Like, okay, I have broken up with their mum, but I don’t want to parade a whole bunch of girlfriends in front of them and show them how casual I can be now that I am not married. That is the same with everybody. As a mum or dad, you think about the fact that your kids will be viewing that. The same as my parents, I always hope to be an ideal in front of my children.
“I have always tried to be as real as possible. I’m going to be who I am.”
But as someone in the spotlight, do you get held to an even higher ideal?
I guess I am one of those people that people like to point the finger at. It’s very easy to put different hats on me. I don’t care about that either way, but I do care about in terms of how it affects my kids.
Like how the media portrays you, you mean?
Yeah, but I can’t stop it! They’ll see it all. Even though they may not be allowed to Google me when I am at home, that doesn’t stop them from Googling me when they are at their friends’ house, you know? There is a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve had to have conversations with them about. But in a funny way it’s probably beneficial, too.
Because they’re not glorifying you?
Yeah, some people grow up where they possibly idealize their parents a little bit too much and when they are shown to be human, this whole thing drops out underneath of them. With my kids, I have always tried to be as real as possible. I’m going to be who I am. I have a moral standard of my own. I know the difference between right and wrong, I know what I feel comfortable with. And if you live up to your own moral standard, you’re going to have a more comfortable life. If you try and live up to somebody else’s and live on behalf of somebody else, that’s the place that I’m not comfortable with as a person. And if I were to be that person I wouldn’t be giving my children any extra benefit by living inside that deception.