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Denzel & Russell: Happy to Be American Gangsters

Denzel & Russell: Happy to Be American Gangsters

One of the last movies I can't wait to see this year, American Gangster, premiered in Hollywood last night. The film's illustrious stars Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington, along with Mel Gibson and producer Brian Grazer, were all out to celebrate the epic in their finest suits. Both Russell and Denzel are no stranger to the Oscar nominations, so it will be interesting to see if these two can live up to their names and reputation together on screen. Recently the two sat down with EW to chat about working together, the big O and how awesome the title of their movie is. Here's highlights:


There have been so many great gangster movies over the years, right up to The Departed. Did either of you hesitate before stepping into those shoes?
RUSSELL CROWE: Yeah, but when was the last character like Frank Lucas? That's a gigantic thing. That's the Mount Rushmore of gangsters right there. What amazes me is that nobody has come up with this title before.
DENZEL WASHINGTON: It's a heck of a title.
CROWE: I reckon Martin Scorsese is sitting somewhere in an office in New York and he sees ''American Gangster'' and he's like, ''F---! And I went with Casino?'' [Laughs] It should be the title of a political film, really.

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To read more quotes from the guys, including how it feels to already have Oscar buzz plus a whole lot more photos from the premiere just read more

There's already Oscar buzz around American Gangster and your performances. Is it hard not to get invested in it when you hear that?
WASHINGTON: What are you going to do? There's no Oscar gym you go to to get in Oscar shape. There's not much you can do about it. If you get invited to the show, you go. The work is done. You know what? It beats a sharp stick in the eye that people are talking about it. That's gravy.
CROWE: Let's not discourage people from going to see it, though.
WASHINGTON: By saying it's Oscar-worthy?
CROWE: I think it just gets into a ho-hum thing. Because how many people will run that flag up the pole when they're trying to make s--- look like chocolate ice cream? You know what I'm saying?

When you think back on the torturous road to get American Gangster onto the screen, does it say something larger about how difficult it is for Hollywood to make a big, grown-up drama these days?
CROWE: Pretty much every project has got some kind of torture in its history, if you want to examine it. I've had others that you persist with for eight years and suddenly you're at the premiere, shaking everyone's hand. I've always said, It's like surfing. Some days, for some reason, you jump up on the board and you stay balanced and you ride all the way to the beach and everybody's clapping. Other days, your drawers are full of sand, mate. I've been smacked on the beach many times.
WASHINGTON: [Nodding his head] And what do you do? You get back on.

As long as the process has been getting this one to the big screen, the buzz is so loud that I doubt there's any way it will fail. Plus, have you seen the trailers? There's no way not to get excited to see it. Denzel and Russell are both looking a little bit older (just a touch) these days, but that's only there to add to their movie titan charisma.

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Images include Denzel Washington, Brian Grazer, Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson, Ben Foster, Julie Delpy, Michelle Williams, Niecy Nash, Lymari Nadal, Marc Streitenfeld.

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