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Scott, Crowe to take on comedy

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Monday, September 11, 2006
Toronto (Reuters): Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, who last teamed up for Crowe's Oscar-winning turn in Gladiator, are entering unfamiliar territory in Scott's A Good Year, a romantic comedy which made its world premiere this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival. In the film, Crowe trades his Roman-era sword and sandals for a briefcase and tie as he takes on the role of a cocky London bond trader who suddenly inherits a vineyard estate in France's Provence region. Initially, he plans to sell the property, but then slowly falls in love with it. Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, Crowe said part of the appeal of the movie was working again with Scott, who directed Crowe in his role as a revenge-seeking Roman general in 2000 for which Crowe received a best actor Academy Award.

''There's a lot of laughs in Gladiator,'' he said playfully when asked about his lack of past comedic roles. ''It wasn't sold that way, but that's why people went back to see it, because you chop somebody's head off the right way, it's fucking funny.'' He said the role in A Good Year stood out for him in part because he ''liked the idea of exploring the Anglo-Franco dynamic,'' as his character gradually sheds the trappings of his high-stress London life for the simpler pleasures of Provence. ''I've got a lot of English friends and French friends, and when they're together it's one thing, but when they're separate, there's another whole dialogue. They tend to tell me a little bit more of the truth, because I'm from Australia and New Zealand and outside of that argument,'' he said.

For Scott, who conceived the idea for the story along with Peter Mayle, who then authored the novel on which the film is based, the movie represents new territory for a director who has never stayed in one subject area for very long. ''I love to go into genres I haven't been before,'' he told Reuters in an interview. Over his career, Scott has successfully tackled science fiction with the classics Alien and Blade Runner, and action-adventure, with Gladiator and the acclaimed 2001 film Black Hawk Down, which chronicles a 1993 firefight which 18 Americans were killed battling a Somali warlord.

But he has also gotten a lukewarm reception for films such as the Demi Moore dramatic vehicle GI Jane, the Silence of the Lambs sequel Hannibal, and the period piece ''Kingdom of Heaven.'' He has also at times battled the reputation of not being an actor's director, but he clearly has good chemistry with Crowe, with whom he is currently filming American Gangster, about a drug lord who smuggles heroin into Harlem in the 1970s by hiding the drugs in the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam. Scott said he was also writing a film that will deal with modern political and religious issues in the West Asia. ''It is so chaotic, and so fascinating that we don't learn by history at all. In fact, we've become even more ignorant about history,'' he said.

Crowe said he did not to expect to do more comedy roles in the future. ''Am I planning to do something (else) similar? Probably not,'' said Crowe. ''Do I want to work in France again, do I want to work in Provence again with (Scott)? Yes, so tell all your friends to go and see the movie so we can do another ''Good Year''.

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