Russell Crowe Unveils 'The Water Diviner' at World Premiere in Sydney

The Water Diviner Premiere H 2014
AP Images/Invision

The World War 1 film marks the Oscar-winning actor's directorial debut

The world premiere of The Water Diviner was a family affair for Russell Crowe, as he unveiled his debut feature as a director to fans and the industry, alongside sons Charles, 10, and Tennyson, 8, at Sydney’s historic State Theater on Tuesday.

Also joining the Gladiator and Noah star on the red carpet were co-stars Olga Kurylenko, Australian actors Jai Courtney and Jacqueline Mckenzie and Turkish film icon Yilmaz Erdogan. They will then premiere the film in Melbourne on Wednesday and Istanbul next week, before it's released simultaneously on Boxing Day in both Australia and Turkey.

Oscar-winner Crowe also stars in the film as Australian farmer Joshua Connor, who travels to Turkey in 1919, four years after the nation-defining battle of Gallipoli, to find out the fate of his three sons, who were reported missing after the battle.

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But the film is less of a war film and tells more of the impact of war on life and family. It stemmed from one line in a letter, uncovered by scriptwriter Andrew Anastasios when he was researching another project, and written by Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Hughes from the Imperial War Graves unit immediately after the end of World War I. "One old chap managed to get here from Australia, looking for his son's grave," Hughes' note said.

Crowe said it was the right film to make his directorial debut.

"When I first read it, I was already making notes on behalf of my own character, and as a director, on behalf of the entire story," he said "I immediately felt it was my responsibility to pick up this beautiful story and make it come to life."

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Of his work behind the camera, Crowe said that while tough, none of it was a surprise, coming after 50 films in front of the camera and having worked with directors like Ridley Scott and Ron Howard.

“Being on set with a film crew, that’s where I’m most comfortable. I know how to talk to actors. I know how to speak that language, so for me it was a natural and easy transition,” Crowe told ABC Radio.

Warner Bros will release The Water Diviner in the U.S on April 25, 2015 — the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Allied forces landing at Gallipoli. That will give Crowe the opportunity to explain what the story of Gallipoli means to American audiences.

“What a privilege that is,” Crowe said.