Russell Crowe: Serious thespian, Oscar winner, rage-prone phone thrower -- kung fu movie star?
Fans of New Zealand’s most celebrated dramatic export were mystified to discover that Crowe had signed on to appear in hip-hop superstar turned first-time filmmaker the RZA’s directorial debut “The Man With the Iron Fists.” The rollicking martial arts mini-epic, shot on location in Shanghai, features ninja prostitutes, a bad guy with body-morphic brass body armor and geysers of arterial splatter. And Crowe, 48, portrays a booze-swilling, prostitute-loving British mercenary in the film, which hit theaters Friday.
Turns out that despite their seeming disparities, the actor and RZA -- better known as the musical mastermind behind the seminal Staten Island rap collective Wu-Tang Clan -- have been bros since appearing in two movies together, Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” and the Paul Haggis-directed “Three Days Later.” When “Iron Fists” was green-lighted in 2010, RZA persuaded Crowe to take the part about five weeks before cameras rolled.
“He had to make a decision to take a chance with me,” RZA recalled. “He said, ‘I’m not into this kung fu .... I said, ‘I’m not doing that for you! I’m not gonna have you here doing no crazy kung fu ... for this film.’ But I was like, ‘I need the talent of a real actor. And trust me -- you could have fun.’ N’ah mean? That’s what I wanted more than anything.”