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Relaxed and genial, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling met with the press Sunday in Cannes to chat up their newest film The Nice Guys, and their back-and-forth banter quickly defaulted into a mutual admiration society that included the movie’s director, Shane Black.
Gosling said of Black, “He’s a genre unto his own,” while Crowe testified of the writer-director’s approach, “What’s on the page is a map, but it is not necessarily the map of everything he wants. Shane is willing and enthusiastic about letting us explore.”
Said Black of his two stars: “You have two physical comedians. The best kind of comedy for me is not one that takes its cue by being pretentious, but one that is like a juggler on a street corner, consciously aware that people are going to throw tomatoes at him if you don’t keep it lively. So let’s go for the bathroom gag, and let’s just go for it big. Ryan was particularly willing to just fling himself off of stuff on to other stuff.”
Nice Guys, which will have its red-carpet premiere out of competition in Cannes on Sunday night, stars Crowe and Gosling as a mismatched odd couple of investigators trying to solve the mystery surrounding an apparent suicide in porn-infested 1970s Los Angeles. They were joined at the film’s official festival press conference by producer Joel Silver; Matt Bomer, who plays the movie’s villain; and Australian newcomer Angourie Rice, who plays the daughter of Gosling’s character.
Written by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi, the movie was helmed by Black, one of the hottest screenwriters of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when he turned out scripts for such movies as Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (the latter of which he also directed).
Black explained that he was inspired early in his career by Ron Howard’s 1982 Night Shift. Though that film was sold as a comedy, he said he was “surprised by this soulful and heartfelt relationship” it contained, and “I thought, wow, isn’t that something, within the context of being funny you can actually tell an organic story.” In the case of Nice Guys, Black said, he first constructed “a strong mystery thriller, and then just let these guys tear it to shreds and be really funny.”
The movie is set in the ‘70s, the filmmaker continued, because, “In the ‘70s, L.A. was still a destination for dreamers, but it was really slipping. The glamor that people saw advertised had become this tattered, lunatic, Alzheimer’s version of a prom queen. The Hollywood Sign was crumbling. The smog was so bad you had actual air-raid sirens telling children to go inside because they couldn’t play outside.”
Asked by one reporter which one was the Batman in their team, Gosling replied, “I’m Batman, and [referring to Crowe], he’s Robin.” But Crowe interjected, “Somebody asked me recently what superhero characters Ryan and I would be. And I said Fatman and Ribbon.”
Another journalist wanted to know if Crowe prepared for his roles by using the Stanislavski Method, but Crowe quickly shot that notion down, saying, “I use the Russell Crowe method. I’ve never been to drama school, man. I’ve never been to acting school. The only time I did any formal lessons, I chose to study classical texts for about three weeks. But I’ve been acting since I was six years old. Over time, you get more and more efficient about getting to the center of the character you’re preparing. I don’t even know what the Stanislavski method may be. I have no f—king idea. Seriously, if you want to be an actor, work it out yourself.”
The Nice Guys hits theaters stateside on Friday as it rolls out around the world.
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