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We've all been on the edge, and we've all had some interaction with a stranger that goes badly — and which we probably regret later. But in the moment, it can be difficult to back down. There's no question who is in the wrong in the new Russell Crowe thriller UNHINGED, in which the actor plays a man who stalks a woman and her son after what should have been a trivial traffic confrontation.
Russell Crowe has often played darkly intense roles, even when he's cast as the hero. Bud White in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, the title character of NOAH, and even Maximus in GLADIATOR all come to mind. It's not as if Crowe has ever played a bad guy. But UNHINGED, coming to theatres at the end of August, drives Crowe deep into villainy with a character who is unrelentingly vicious.
Crowe's UNHINGED character is known only as "the Man." He thinks he's got nothing left to make his life worth living, so when Rachel (Caren Pistorius) doesn't show much patience for him in traffic, the Man becomes focused on violent retribution. An altercation at a traffic light gives the Man an excuse to take out his frustrations and anger on someone who doesn't deserve it.
In the film's press notes, screenwriter Carl Ellsworth says "with UNHINGED, I wanted to try to write the most intense thing I've ever written, with an unrelenting pace and urgency, that unfolds in real-time and doesn't let up until it's over." Since Ellsworth has also written the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake, DISTURBIA, and RED EYE, he knows something about intensity.
Director Derrick Borte (LONDON TOWN) as a human version of the shark in JAWS. He's silent, untraceable, and basically a monster right out of the wilderness. The role freaked out Crowe, who says that his first reading of the script left him ready to say "absolutely not" to the idea of acting out the role. "I'm not doing this movie," he remembers thinking, because "it scares the (expletive) out of me, this character is intensely dark... and when I heard that come out of my mouth, I was like, since when did I stop doing that? Cause that's basically what I look for. I look for the challenges.” So if the first step in creating a great movie villain is that the actor behind the character finds them intimidating, then UNHINGED is off to a good start. "He is absolutely terrifying," Crowe says of the Man. "When he begins, he comes up from behind… we don't know where he is, then he gets closer and closer, strikes and disappears again until the next time. He is after his prey. Rachel just yells at the wrong guy on the wrong day. And he doesn't care about the consequences of his actions against her because he's already crossed the line."
You can get a sample of Crowe's dark power in the trailer above. He's always been an intense actor who can exude absolute physical presence, but this is Crowe doing something different. We don't ever want to run into a guy like this in real life — but an encounter in the movie theatre will be ideal.
All images courtesy of Solstice Studios.
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