Brando steeled Crowe for role
Man of Steel.
A FEW years after Marlon Brando’s 2004 death, Russell Crowe was contacted by a woman possessing a special package. The woman was one of Brando’s close friends and the acting great had entrusted her to locate Crowe and present him with a book of poetry, There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves, by American author James Kavanaugh. Tucked inside the book was another surprise – a note penned by Brando. ‘‘Along with it came a little letter about how he liked watching certain films of mine,’’ Crowe says. ‘‘It really touched me when I received that because growing up as a young actor, his performances were very affecting to me. You can take what you get out of doing amateur theatre or whatever, but until you see On the Waterfront or A Streetcar Named Desire, you kind of realise something did shift greatly in cinema performance.’’ Crowe, with his machismo on and off screen, has often been compared to Brando, and in the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, the New Zealand-born, Australian-raised actor walks in Brando’s footsteps. Crowe is JorEl, the superhero’s biological father, a role Brando played in 1978’s Superman. The opening scenes of Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder, take place on the planet Krypton, with Jor-El confronted with a parent’s worst nightmare. Krypton is in its last hours, the planet set to implode. Jor-El decides the only way to continue the Kryptonian race and save his newborn son is to place him in a space capsule and send it to planet Earth. Crowe, father to two sons, Charles, 9, and Tennyson, 6, says the scene moved him. ‘‘The very thought of having to give up your child is an extremely difficult thing to wrap your head around, even when you absolutely, fundamentally know in your heart it is the best thing,’’ he says. Jor-El finds a way to keep in touch with his son (Henry Cavill), who, after being discovered in a field and raised by farmers Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), is struggling with his identity and superhuman powers. After Charles was born, Crowe says: ‘‘For some reason I was having this conversation with my wife about what we could do if something tragic happened,’’ Crowe says. ‘‘My gut instinct was somehow you have to go with your child. That for me played into exactly what Zack wanted in the script. I was sending him off, but I do have a way if circumstances come together in the place where he arrives, he can contact me still. It was strangely satisfying to have that second go at communication.’’
Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van in