It must have been a bit like that YouTube video in which an alligator fights a python.
As celebrity showdowns go, putting the mercurial, hoverboard-loving actor Russell Crowe and the fiery rapper and social-media loose cannon Azealia Banks in a room together is hard to beat.
Azealia’s previous form, you may remember, includes putting a curse on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, launching a racist, homophobic rant against One Direction’s Zayn Malik, and calling a Delta flight attendant a “fucking faggot.”
In the red corner, meanwhile, Russell Crowe’s history of hot-temper flashes includes allegedly threatening to kill the producer of Gladiator for lowballing his assistants on their per diem, throwing a cellphone at a New York hotel concierge, and threatening a BBC executive who cut short his BAFTA Best Actor acceptance speech. (The unlucky London fellow was allegedly pinned to a wall by Crowe, who jabbed him in the chest and shouted: “You ***** piece of ****. I’ll make sure you’ll never work in Hollywood.”)
Indeed, Crowe’s reputation for rugged confrontation is so celebrated that there is an entire South Park episode dedicated to the notion that he simply travels the world starting fights with random people.
So, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that when Azealia and Russell somehow found themselves sharing space in an L.A. hotel suite occupied by Crowe (she was reportedly the RZA’s plus one) on Saturday night, a big, big fight ensued.
While everyone agrees the evening didn’t end with air kisses and return invitations to dinner, there are two competing versions of how matters played out.
TMZ reports that, “the trouble started when Azealia laughed out loud at Russell’s music selection, and then called him and at least one other guest ‘boring white men.’ A female guest jumped to Russell’s defense and suggested Banks pipe down.”
TMZ claims Banks then threatened Crowe and the woman, “You would love it if I broke my glass, stabbed you guys in the throat, and blood would squirt everywhere like some real Tarantino s***.”
According to TMZ, “witnesses say she dropped a few n-bombs,” but when she “reached for her glass, cocked it back” the Cinderella Man star “grabbed her in a bear hug and carried her out of the suite,” before calling hotel security.
“To recap my night, I went to a party at Russell Crowe’s suite, at which he called me a n****r, choked me, threw me out and spat at me,” Banks wrote in a post, which has since been deleted.
“Last night was one of the hardest nights of sleep I’ve had in a long time,” she said. “The men in the room allowed it to happen. I feel terrible today.”
In another message, Banks said she wished she “had someone to beat [Crowe] up” for her.
“Just feel so low and mishandled and alone and f***ing depressed right now,” she said. “I want to f***ing die.”
Who was in the wrong we may never know.
But an intriguing possibility is that Russell was inflicting his own music on the guests.
He is keen amateur recording artist—his style once was described as “the colourless strums of a subway busker glazed with the deodorized slick of Christian rock,” and has a reputation for being exceptionally thin-skinned when it comes to criticism of his oeuvre.
Indeed, it was after Trey Parker and Matt Stone were subjected to Russell’s music—they were invited to Crowe’s place to listen to the demo tape for his album and unwisely gave their thoughts on it to the Gladiator star—that they wrote their now-legendary South Park episode.