The Nice Guys is the latest movie from Russell Crowe, a buddy movie where he shares the screen with Ryan Gosling. The typical movie where two guys, very different, end sharing a vision of the world. Holland March (Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Crowe) are tracking down the same missing girl, but when things go terribly awry, the mismatched, fumbling pair are forced to work together. The Nice Guys, set in L.A in the '70s, is violent and funny—and sometimes so violent, it's funny, and in some way Crowe sees some quixotic attitude in his character. During the shooting of the movie we had the chance to talk to Russell Crowe about it
Interviewer: Did you know Ryan before this movie, Nice Guys?
Russell Crowe: We had a dinner once. We had a cut, just me and Ryan and 20 other people. Yeah, it’s a funny thing, man, because you never know. You never know if it’s going to be there or not, you know. But, bottom-line is he just makes me laugh. He makes me laugh and that keeps me engaged in a sort of way. He makes me laugh within the scenes we’re doing. The characterization that he’s doing is so special, you know.
Interviewer: And did you have any chemistry?
Russell: Yeah, yeah. But which just means that we talk constantly. We haven’t had planning time, so we plan on the run.
Interviewer: That means you improvise a lot.
Interviewer: What do you think you bring out of each other?
Russell: That I’ve been talking since we started.
Interviewer: Are you a good comedian?
Russell: Yeah if it’s well written (laughs) It’s a really great script and Shane is kind of the best you know, this is very Shane Black in that way, that it has a great mixture of humor and drama. And it’s the kind of mix that I think only he can do in this particular way.
Interviewer: Well, we’ve had inclinations in the past, where we were talking about it with Shane before Lethal Weapon and pulling back to even stuff earlier in the ‘40s and the ‘60s. Why is it able to be reinvented over and over again?
Russell: I think the core of it is like a friendship thing, you know, and people like to see that. They like to see that blossom in lots of different ways.
Interviewer: What would you say is the best story of good friendship like this?
Russell: Mm-hmm, I would have to go back to The Quixote, is the best book of buddies that is written, and also the first. The two characters at the end come together and they start to click. And like they operate like they’re one, you know, instead of both being an individual.
Interviewer: Have you read it?
Russell: Hey man I work hard, I like to read and I did read it. But as my character who takes a drink at the end of the day.
Interviewer: Do you have a buddy movie you have rather aspired to?
Russell: Papillon. It is a great movie, though. It’s a wonderful movie. Kind of a traditional buddy movie.
Interviewer: Do you know any Spanish?
Russell: I can manage to get around to ask for my food when I travel to Mexico, but other than that I couldn’t have a conversation with you, even if I want to.
Interviewer: I had a quote of you where you said “I always wanted to entertain.” I don’t think that any of your characters have ever wanted to, or are the type that wanted to act or entertain.
Russell: Unfortunately, I was being serious. I mean, the comedy in this, it’s so fun. It’s much broader than anything I’ve ever done. We get into a lot of physical comedy sequences that are really fun to do
Interviewer: Is he introspective at all? Is this character introspective like a lot of your characters?
Russell: No, he’s much more I think he’s very different than anything that I’ve played, and I had a great time doing it.
Interviewer: Do you have a more of a director’s eye now
Russell: I’ve always been narrative-based in terms of what I do, so that means I’m always aware in what the camera is doing because I have a feeling into that inanimate object. So, I want to know what is it that we are doing. So, in a situation like this, though, you know, when you go onto a movie, you’re there always for the director you’re working with. So, you know, it doesn’t really inform, or it doesn’t crossover because you’re working somebody else’s vision in the way that they want to complete that, you know. So, it hasn’t really had any effect on me in that perspective. Whereas, if you see me, I just loved being in charge. I’m totally comfortable where every single creative decision is mine.
Interviewer: Do your characters evolve at all, or change from beginning to end?
Russell: Well, there’s movement in terms of how they start as opposing forces, and then enjoin. There’s movement also, I think, in a sort of maturity aspect with your character. Yeah, I mean, they don’t change their spots, but they certainly get something out of the experience that they have together.
Interviewer: You don’t start out in a really nice note. Do you become friends in the course of the movie?
Russell: And so, I think there’s definitely a building empathy, but we’re still not buddies at the end of the story, you know. I mean, we’ve connected, we’ve done something together, but we’re still, you know, not close.
Interviewer: How much does the year 1970 is influencing the story? I mean, obviously, it’s not what the film is about.
Russell: It is, really, from my point of view. It was that aspect. It was that social commentary aspect, which elevated the material in my mind, you know. Because you can have -- you talked about all those other things, but this actually goes into -- you know, you look at the state of Detroit now and you look at what might have changed since the ‘70s that would have ended up with Detroit being in another place right now, you know. But it’s that sort of -- you know, that decay, and decay through specific decisions, to hold onto things, rather than look to the future. And that’s what was really interesting for me.