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Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott have worked together on five films — 2000’s Best Picture winner, Gladiator; 2006’s A Good Year; 2007’s American Gangster; 2008’s Body of Lies and 2010’s Robin Hood. Scott says he can’t pick a favorite collaboration. “He’s been a very good partner to knock about with,” he says. “He always comes for the right reason. It’s always about the role, always about the job.”
Gladiator might be their most lauded pairing, but Scott says behind the scenes things were fraught. “It may look seamless but making the film was like climbing 16 mountains,” the director says. “We were light on the screenplay. The story was all there but dialogue wasn’t.”
Another Crowe film that should have been idyllic — A Good Year, which shot in the south of France near Scott’s own home and was one of Marion Cotillard’s first English-speaking roles — ended up not connecting with audiences the way he expected. “I think Russell was on a downtime then. He’d thrown the famous phone at the Mercer,” he says, referring to Crowe’s 2005 arrest in New York City. “It’s 1 a.m., I’m watching CNN and going, That’s Russell! He’s got handcuffs on — good heavens!”
Of course, there’s been other films of Scott’s that didn’t initially connect with audiences but went on to achieve cultish devotion, among them Blade Runner and Legend. “It proves I was right the first time,” he says with a laugh. “Thank you very much.”