Russell Crowe ‘threatened to kill’ Gladiator producer
‘I’m the greatest actor in the world and I can make even shit sound good’ Crowe is also reported to have said
Australian movie actor Russell Crowe, about to open in Robin Hood, has a formidable reputation for his short temper. Now, it is alleged that during the making of his most successful film, the 2000 hit Gladiator, he threatened to kill one of the producers for underpaying his assistants. "I will kill you with my bare hands," Crowe is said to have told Branko Lustig.
Lustig, a survivor of Auschwitz, is reported to have telephoned Steven Spielberg, whose DreamWorks studio was backing the film, and begged to be taken off the production.
The allegation is contained in a book published next week by the American journalist Nicole LaPorte called The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company called DreamWorks.
According to LaPorte, Crowe (pictured above in Robin Hood) was a "puffy pain" in the neck who twice walked off the set of Gladiator and threw a wobbly because he didn't like his famous line at the climax of the film, "And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
After being persuaded to deliver it, Crowe is said to have told director Ridley Scott that he still thought it was a "shit" line, adding: "But I'm the greatest actor in the world and I can make even shit sound good."
LaPorte also claims Crowe was a poor loser. "After challenging members of the crew to a foot race, and losing, he would mutter for days, 'I would have won, but I can't run in the sand in sandals'."
Branko Lustig was persuaded to stay on the film and was able to join other producers on stage at the Oscars to collect his statuette for best film - one of seven the film won, including best actor for Crowe.
In response to La Porte's claims, a spokesman for Crowe told the Sydney Morning Herald: "I've been told that Amazon already has the book discounted. Go figure."
He might also have added that, despite his client's reputation, Ridley Scott has gone on to make two further films with the actor, A Good Year in 2006 and now Robin Hood, which opens at UK cinemas early next month. ·
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