When it comes to big Hollywood hitter Russell Crowe, no movie – let alone a comedy- is a given when it comes to his involvement in what has already been a long and illustrious career.
Add this to the fact that Russell Crowe’s talents tend to veer more toward the dramatic versus the comedic, and it really isn’t a shock that his initial interest in “The Nice Guys” wasn’t situated in the comedy.
“I just really liked the density of the script and what the narrative was trying to achieve, ” stated Crowe on the subject of what he believes the 1970s based comedy is about and why it caught his eye.
“(Director Shane Black) has tried to reach back into history and find a point in time where America simply corrupted it’s own future by certain decisions that were made, and that’s heavy.
“Now take that and put it into an extremely absurd world with gigantic characters who have a thorough and deep belief in themselves and see what happens, ” said Crowe, adding with a quick laugh: “I wouldn’t have described it necessarily as a comedy because it was full of social commentary.”
To that very point, immediately after expressing interest in the project, Crowe began to worry that perhaps as an outsider, he had read more into the “comedic” script than was actually there.
While he loved the absurdity of the piece, Crowe wasn’t willing to sacrifice what he saw as a “nobility” in it’s subject matter to pander to broader funnier concerns.
To hear Crowe tell it, he became so concerned that he made an elaborate plan to ‘gently’ tell director Shane Black, who had traveled via plane for more than five hours to meet, that he wasn’t interested.
“I’ll invite him over to my house. When he gets here, I’ll say ‘do you want a drink?’ I’ll cook him a steak, and part way through that I’ll say, ‘look man, I thought it was really something else. I’m really sorry for wasting your time and all that stuff.’ So I had a plan.” recounted Crowe.
However, when Black arrived, he revealed that he was allergic to alcohol, scuttling Crowe’s plan.
“I said, ‘what do you mean you’re allergic to alcohol?’ He says, ‘yeah, one drink and I break out in handcuffs.’ And I said, that’s funny,” remembered Crowe.
Then, before Crowe could say anything more, Shane Black, almost as an apology, revealed that even though Crowe was to have been cast first in “The Nice Guys,” Black had just spoken to Ryan Gosling, and that Gosling was willing to co-star opposite Crowe as, in Black’s view, the perfect compliment to Crowe and everything that “The Nice Guys” was meant to be about.
“I had a meeting with (Gosling) before I went to the airport, he knows it’s going to be you, he wants to play the other character. What do you think of that?’ And I’m like, ‘How do you have your steak?’ and the evening got back on track,” stated Crowe, with a huge laugh.
“The Nice Guys” starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Kim Basinger, Margaret Qualley, Matt Bomer and Angourie Rice opened nationwide in theaters on Friday, May 20, 2016.