New Zealand-born Russell Crowe returned to his hometown of Wellington in April 2006 with his band “The Ordinary Fear of God” (TOFOG) as part of a three gig tour. His former band “Thirty Odd Food of Grunts” dissolved and evolved into the new TOFOG the previous year.
In 2002, he won a Golden Globe for his performance in A Beautiful Mind, and went on to win the BAFTA, but missed out on the Oscar when Denzel Washington pipped him for Training Day. However, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave him the Globe, but didn’t have a gong for New Zealand’s big hope, Peter Jackson’s first instalment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring.
I sent him a copy of an editorial cartoon I did back then to mark the event. He signed and sent it back – writing his name under his usual ‘Russell’ siggy, just in case I didn’t know it was his ‘graph.
The Moêt British Independent Film Awards were held at the Old Billingsgate Fish Market in the Shadow of Tower Bridge in December 2010. This time I was on the other side, covering the event for the Irish World – always awkward asking for ‘graphs when you’re interviewing the stars and supping on the sponsor’s product!
However, Martin is one of us: normal, nice and no expletives deleted. I had a couple of sketches on me from his role in the award winning Royal Court play Clybourne Park.
As a member of the forth estate one has to remain professional at all times… so I politely showed Martin the sketches and and said I could send them to his agent. He said “I’ll save you the stamps,” and we had a brief chat about his upcoming trip to Middle Earth (New Zealand) to play Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson‘s Hobbit.
As I write this, I discover that Martin has just won the Best Actor perspex trophy at the Empire Film Awards across town at the Grosvenor Hotel, for his Hobbit role, beating Lincoln and James Bond (Daniel Day Lewis and Daniel Craig).