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‘All for art’: why Russell Crowe shot Robin Hood for a month with two broken legs

<span>Knees must … Russell Crowe in Robin Hood.</span><span>Photograph: Cinetext/Universal Pictures/Allstar</span>
Knees must … Russell Crowe in Robin Hood.Photograph: Cinetext/Universal Pictures/Allstar

Russell Crowe has a new movie out. It is called Land of Bad. By some accounts, it isn’t doing very well. Despite opening in 1,000 American cinemas this weekend, it has only managed to make back a 10th of its budget. As such, regardless of quality (it currently has a 59% Rotten Tomatoes score, which if nothing else makes it four times more celebrated than Madame Web) it is officially one of Crowe’s worst performing movies ever.

For most stars, this would represent a stinging defeat; the sort of thing that would make you want to crawl home and hide away from the world for a while. But not Russell Crowe. Because, for all the successes of Crowe’s career, nothing gets him going like a challenge.

So, how to make people interested in a generic war film starring one of the lesser Hemsworths? Simple. Russell Crowe is going to remind you that he is such an unstoppable badass that he once broke his legs making a film, and then just kept on walking around on them as if nothing had happened.

The film was Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, and you sense that Crowe has been saving this story for an occasion just like this. During an interview with People, Crowe recalled a stunt where he had to jump off a portcullis on to some uneven ground. “As I jumped, I remember thinking, ‘This is going to hurt,’” he said. “It was like an electric shock bursting up through my body. We were shooting a big movie, so you just struggle through, but the last month of that job was very tricky. There was a number of weeks where even walking was a challenge.”

So what did he do? Seek medical attention? Force production to shoot around him until he was properly recovered? No. “I never discussed the injury with production, never took a day off because of it, I just kept going to work,” he said. At which point you’re asking yourself that, if he didn’t see any doctors after the injury, how he knew he’d broken his legs. Simple. He did see a doctor, but only after a full decade had passed. “All for art,” he said. “No cast, no splints, no painkillers, just kept going to work and over time they healed themselves.”

What a guy. This is true masculinity, in the sense that he refused to let anyone down, and not because he avoided going to see a doctor despite obviously being in urgent need of medical care. Russell Crowe literally broke his legs for Robin Hood, and yet all anyone could talk about when it came out was the way his accent made him sound slightly Jamaican. We all owe Russell Crowe an apology. But, of course, he has form when it comes to this sort of thing.

Remember the pandemic? Remember when all the movies in all the world were yanked out of cinemas for fear that the theatrical movie-going experience would essentially become a series of deadly super-spreader events? Remember how the only new movie that was released during that time was Unhinged, a film about Russell Crowe going nuts in a truck until someone stabs him in the eye?

Remember how that wasn’t a film that anyone wanted to see, until Russell Crowe threw every ounce of strength he had into the trailer, during which he railed against the idea of cinema as art and announced “Fuck that shit. I’ve got a movie coming out. It’s called Unhinged. I’m not fucking with you. It’s called Unhinged, and it’s going to be in cinemas. Off you go,” while a montage of multi-vehicular carnage played out in front of him? Do you remember how much that made you want to go and see Unhinged?

The same thing is happening now. Did I want to go and see Land of Bad? Absolutely not. But do I want to go and see it now that I know that Russell Crowe once shattered his legs and carried on walking around on them? Actually, I do a bit. Because who knows what injuries he might have sustained making Land of Bad? Maybe he snapped a collarbone. Maybe he was stabbed through the abdomen. Maybe his head fell clean off, and he pushed on regardless, not wanting to let a Hemsworth down. We won’t know the scale of his mutilation for another decade, which is probably the next time he’ll see a doctor, but we owe it to Russell Crowe nonetheless.