(Alexis Petridis’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/29; via Pam Green.)

Russell Crowe’s publicist has two pieces of information she wishes to impart before I’m ushered into the actor’s hotel suite. The first is a warning that Crowe “may be smoking” during the interview, about which I couldn’t care less, beyond wondering how much it is costing him to have a ciggie. Clearly whatever eye-watering charges Claridge’s levies against those who break the hotel’s smoking ban are but a mere bagatelle to the highest-paid actor in the world – one who has reportedly earned $82m (£55m) at the box office in the past year. The second is that Crowe is “on good form, very talkative”. It’s said brightly, but is clearly intended as reassurance. The one thing everybody knows about Crowe, other than the fact that he was nominated for the best actor Oscar three years in a row, winning it in 2000 for Gladiator, is that he has a fractious relationship with the press. For the prospective interviewer, Googling his name is quite the nerve-jangling experience: testimonies from other hacks that he offered “the worst interview experience ever”, tales of bitter Twitter spats and surly stormings out.


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