Good thing the Academy Awards are beefing up security this year, since Russell Crowe is coming. Back home Down Under for the Sydney premiere of ”A Beautiful Mind,” Crowe acknowledged that he accosted the director of the BAFTA awards ceremony in London on Sunday night. Witnesses said Crowe shoved Malcolm Gerrie against a wall and cursed him out because the actor’s acceptance speech had been cut short on the BBC’s tape-delayed broadcast of the awards show.
”He’s not bruised, he’s not battered, but I’m quite sure his ears are still ringing,” Crowe told the Sydney Morning Herald. ”I have very little remorse for what I said… though possibly it was a little more passionate in the cold hard light of day than I would have liked it to have been.” But if Crowe regretted his approach, he didn’t regret his language. ”I don’t feel that I need to apologize to him. I believe in everything I said, and I’ll stand by it.”
The show had apparently run 30 minutes long, and the edited telecast cut Crowe’s recitation of a four-line poem by Patrick Kavanagh. ”He kept saying to me it was all about time and I was saying surely it’s got to be about content,” Crowe said of Gerrie. ”You’re actually talking about one minute of a one minute, 50 speech.” And it wasn’t just the poem that was lost, Crowe said. ”We’re talking about a thank-you to John and Alicia Nash, who this movie is based on, being cut out.”
However, Variety reports that the decision to cut Crowe off came from BBC executives, not Gerrie, and that they needed the time for a career-achievement acceptance speech by Warren Beatty. Plus, they had told all the nominees three times to keep their speeches short. So Crowe’s anger may have been misplaced, but hey, in America, no awards show would cut him off in favor of the guy who did ”Town & Country.” In fact, in international rebroadcasts, such as the one this Saturday on E!, Crowe’s BAFTA speech will air in full. Poetry fans, rejoice.
Still, don’t expect Oscar voters to applaud what Crowe apparently sees as his principled stand in favor of longer acceptance speeches. The Academy mailed out its ballots Wednesday, so now is not a good time to alienate voters with gladiatorial behavior. ”I think he’s committing Oscar suicide,” says awards expert Tom O’Neil, whose trophy-handicapping site, GoldDerby.com, now rates ”Training Day”’s Denzel Washington as the front-runner for best actor. O’Neil tells EW.com that Academy members are ”looking for things to tilt them in a very close race, when pressure is being put on them to remember black actors, in the face of past Oscar stinginess. Meanwhile, Crowe has spent the last two years working hard to erase his bad boy image, and now it’s popping out of the box.”
O’Neil says that Crowe’s win last year for ”Gladiator” means he’ll be held to a higher standard of behavior if he wants to join the very select group of back-to-back Oscar winners. ”You have to be one of the beloved to be in that company of Tom Hanks, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Jason Robards.”
Still, as Crowe said at Wednesday’s premiere, he’s not worried about being judged for his off-screen performance. ”I think the Oscars are supposed to be about the performance that you’ve given,” he said. ”I don’t think I’m nominated for ‘Worst Argument With an English TV Executive.”’