Russell Crowe has never been accused of an excess of sensitivity, but even by his standards a joke he made at an Australian movie awards ceremony was unwise in the current climate.
Crowe was speaking at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, and, as the Oscar winner took the stage to introduce the Best Asian Film of the Year, he relayed a curious anecdote about an on-set experience in which he said he ended up “sodomizing” one of his co-stars during filming of the 1992 film Romper Stomper, something which he said he “didn’t actually intend to do.”
The story began simply enough. “I just want to talk about what binds us together. There’s two things really. One is an abiding passion for our pursuit and the other is sensitivity,” Crowe said.
He then continued, to nervous laughter from the crowd: “I was sodomizing Jacquie McKenzie on the set of Romper Stomper and I didn’t actually intend to do that but I was trying to keep my bits away from her bits and she’d been given one of those pieces of elastic that the girls get when you do the love scenes, which protects them from all things, and my bits and pieces were in a little canvas sack with a drawstring, similar to when you used to buy chewing gum as a child.
“And it was actually my desire to keep the bits apart. It wasn’t until the opening night of the film that it was pointed out by none other than Jacquie McKenzie’s beautiful late mother that we were in fact, in her mind, engaged in sodomy. Anyway that was just a story about sensitivity.”
Crowe’s comments were cut from the awards show’s televised broadcast, however audio of the remarks has leaked online.
However he later made a statement as negative attention focused on the remarks, in which he suggested that he was merely discussing the practical challenge of filming sex scenes without violating the dignity of one’s co-star.
Crowe said: “Actors and actresses by the nature of our job get thrown into some embarrassing, bizarre and extreme circumstances. It’s an ironic combination that the sensitivity required for the job also has to be coupled with an ability to put aside your embarrassment and fears and cope with the humiliation.
“Jacquie and I survived that moment in our young careers because we looked after each other. Our friendship has only strengthened over the years and it’s a story we both cringe over.
“The way I delivered the story was to elicit that half cringe/half laugh reaction.
“Obviously I was only intending to make people laugh. Especially Jacquie, and she did.
“I didn’t mean any offense to anyone and it wasn’t a comment on other issues.”
In a Facebook entry re-posted on Twitter, McKenzie, who said the scene was “violent and explicit” supported Crowe, saying, “The irony—what we actors are asked to do in scenes and how we actually film them—is what we laugh at,” adding, “The very important conversation of sexual harassment in the workplace bears no relevance to this.”