reelz.com talks to the stars of 3:10 to Yuma
Pacino and DeNiro. Hoffman and Brando. Newman and Redford.
Great actor pairings don’t happen enough in Hollywood. And on that rare occasion that they do, it’s an even rarer feat that they pair for a truly great movie.
This weekend, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, two of the finest actors of this generation, hit the big screen in 3:10 to Yuma. Sure, they are both great in the movie as expected, but Yuma is also an all-around great film from end to end. A classic western. It’s got a great supporting cast that includes Ben Foster and Peter Fonda. It’s got a great story. It’s got great visuals and it’s well-directed. Most importantly, it’s highly entertaining.
The buzz on Yuma has been building for a while now, which might explain why stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale were all smiles upon entering a room full of press to talk about the film.
Bale seemed a little spacey and out of it, likely pretty burnt out from a grueling Batman shoot that is still ongoing. Crowe, on the other hand, who’s been known to be a little stand-offish to press, was quite talkative.
The first question was what drew these two stars into this project?
“That it was a short shoot,” says Crowe to laughs.
“I really enjoyed the thought of the story,” adds Crowe. “The main thing is reading the script and seeing the dynamic of the characters and that looked like it was going to be fun. So that’s why I did it.”
“I think it’s the appeal of all Westerns,” says Bale. “Just being a time of the most anarchy compared to nowadays when, you know, a man really does have to be self-sufficient. And I think nowadays we can get away a lot with being very vague about having opinions about things, beliefs in something, you know. You can kind of get away with being vague about it because there’s not much that seems to directly affect our lives but at that time, you had to be a much stronger minded individual in order to survive and I find that appealing to watch people who really have to test their mettle every day.”
Crowe plays notorious outlaw Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma. Wade is a villain, but his characterization is multi-layered and complex. Crowe nails the role, a part which gives the actor plenty of room to flex his ample versatility. For an actor of Crowe’s caliber, these parts don’t come along every day. “Yeah. I think they’ve always been [hard to find]. It’s always been that way, especially in my life in the movies. You get a lot of opportunities that come with a big pay check and all that sort of stuff, but don’t necessarily appeal to you, you know? And a lot of people who are absolutely dead set certain that this is something that you would love to do or whatever, and you start reading it and it’s not something that turns you on. I think you’ve got to stay true to yourself in that way. I read a script, if I get goose bumps, if I kind of like what the potential of it is, then that’s the thing that I do.”
Doing a western is also a dream for most actors that is rarely fulfilled these days. “Well, that’s pretty good, isn’t it?” Crowe says with a smile. “I mean it’s a good list. Ride horses, play with guns, speak in a funny voice, you know, wear pointy boots… And you would approach something like this probably thinking this is going to be a bit of fun, until I actually looked at it and thought, you know, I spent this time of year in Arizona making a Western back in ’93 or ’94 (Quick and the Dead) and that was pleasant. It was, you know, warm during the day, a little cold late at night, nothing much. So I thought this would be fine. And then I realized once I’d gotten there that Santa Fe’s actually 7,500 feet above sea level and it’s now going to be significantly colder.”
Crowe looks to Bale and gives him a nudge. “You've been silent for a while, Batman.”
Bale laughs. “Just being out riding your horses and shooting your guns, that's a lot of fun… It got to be bloody freezing, especially some of the night shoots… “And he (Crowe) was just a real bastard to work with…” (Laughs)
On working together:
Bale on Crowe: “Whenever people ask me what I was doing next and I said that I was going to be working with Russell they would kind of look at me and go, ‘Oh, right, you're going to be in for a tough ride with him.’ It was absolutely true [Laughs]. No. You find an awful lot, and I don't mean to talk out of school, but a lot of actors sort of complain and cringe and do everything to avoid actually getting on with the work so it's nice when you're working with someone like Russell when you can just get to the point and you can have blunt conversations about the scenes and it just makes it easy. Obviously, he doesn't have to be told what to do because he's a bloody good actor and it's a pleasure to work with someone as good as that.”
Crowe on Bale: “Right from the first time that we did a reading I could see that he had a sense of humor and was very balanced about what the job is and all that sort of stuff. Once you've worn the cape it must be hard keeping your feet on the ground. You can tell that there's a lot of base jealousy coming from me about the fact that he gets to wear the cape.”
“This isn't going to go away all day,” laughs Bale. “I bought him his own special rubber outfit.”
“Which I appreciated greatly,” adds Crowe with a smile. “The thing is that it was easy and the thing that I said to him on the last night when we were finishing up, I said to him that he's all class. On a daily basis he was always ready. He's got great questions. His choices with his weapons, the way that he approached the horse riding – it's all good. From my perspective, to know that the guy you're working with has put the effort in and has switched on and is ready to go regardless of the conditions and the hours and all of that stuff, it just makes you feel like you're in the right place.”
“We were both a number of drinks down the line by that time of course,” Bale jokes.
“Which is also a good thing,” says Crowe. “Being able to simply finish a days work and being able to have a regular conversation with a bloke over a beer without it being some big to do and breaking some sort of contemporary taboo like, "We don't do that in Los Angeles."