Justin Kurzel admits to being intimidated by Russell Crowe before 'True History of the Kelly Gang' (exclusive)

Stefan Pape

Russell Crowe often plays intimidating characters and his latest role in True History of the Kelly Gang is just that.

He plays big-bearded bushranger Harry Power, who mentors Ned Kelly into a life of crime in this gritty Australian crime drama.

Its director Justin Kurzel tells Yahoo that Crowe’s fearsome screen presence (and much publicised off-screen turbulence) meant he felt slightly daunted by the prospect of directing such an esteemed performer.

“I was a little bit intimidated to be working with [Russell Crowe],” Kurzel admits before conceding that he couldn’t have made the film without him.

“He was incredibly loyal to the project and had an amazing amount of ideas. He's the real thing, a genuine person and really wears his heart on his sleeve. He's one of the most extraordinary actors.”

Russell Crowe smokes a pipe as Harry Power in a still from True History of the Kelly Gang. (Picturehouse Entertainment)

Kurzel must have held himself together quite well, despite the anxieties. When discussing the project with Essie Davis, who plays the protagonist's mother Ellen Kelly, and is also married to Kurzel, she told us she was surprised to hear her spouse admit to feeling such a way.

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“I'm surprised Justin said that because he seemed to be completely relaxed with him,” she said, alongside the film's lead role, and star of 1917 George MacKay.

“He was lovely, actually,” Davis continued about her work with Crowe on the project.

Russell Crowe wields a firearm as Harry Power in a still from True History of the Kelly Gang. (Picturehouse Entertainment)

“There's a level of meeting someone that is that famous, that may make you feel a little intrepid. But I just went up to him on the first day and gave him a kiss and went' you're going to be spending the next few days with me'.

“He was pretty grounded and down to earth,” she finished.

True History of the Kelly Gang is released in cinemas on 28 February.