Russell Crowe

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Mark Kermode's rule is that the weightier Russell Crowe is, the more seriously he is taking the role. If there is muscle around his pectorals and abs, as in Gladiator, it is fluff. If there is fat around his stomach and posterior, as in The Insider or State Of Play, it is Oscar bait. (If the fat is all in his head, it is A Good Year).

Crowe was the subject of a somewhat difficult joint interview for the release of Robin Hood. Mark told Crowe that they had met before, and Crowe asked when. When Mark replied that it was for New Musical Express at the time of Romper Stomper, Crowe called him an "you absolute EXPLETIVE DELETED". Mark hastily then said that actually the NME piece had been written by Gavin Martin and Mark himself had actually been there for 5 Live. It seemed doubtful that Crowe believed him (he was already annoyed with the BBC, because Mark Lawson had asked him whether he had meant for his Nottinghamshire accent to sound Irish). Simon took great glee in Mark's discomfort, saying he imagined him running for all his life as Crowe shot him with an arrow - as Russell himself added - "pop - straight in the arse."

Crowe's singing in Les Miserables and his Orchestra generated much discussion amongst the Wittertainment listenership - not least because, due to a 5.1-related mix-up, the clip that got played did not have orchestral accompaniment, exposing the British listening public to Crowe's raw, unvarnished baritone. Although Mark felt that Crowe's uncertainty in his own voice matched the character of Javert, others were less convinced. For example, one listener's child, at a parent-and-baby screening, responded to it by letting go the most impressive and perfectly-timed raspberry of his young life. Mark predicted that the child would, in around 20 years, become the new Barry Norman.