According to Deadline, Russell Crowe is interested in not only directing but also starring in a L.A. police drama based on a story by James Ellroy. Crowe will potentially make his directorial debut on 77, a crime drama about the 1974 unsolved murder of an L.A. police officer and the South Central shootout between the LAPD and the Symbionese Liberation Army. As of now, we can only speculate if Crowe will actually take on the film. Rumors have attached him to other directorial projects in the past that haven’t materialized. Apparently he’s waiting for a script re-write before finalizing anything.
Ellroy is a renowned L.A. crime novelist whose original story pitch for 77 has been bandying around Hollywood for the last couple of years. Apparently the script of Ellroy’s story was penned by David Matthew, who will presumably be working on the re-write that Crowe is waiting on. The mystery around the ‘74 police murder and the thrilling events of the shootout (in which 50,000 rounds of ammo were expended) will be experienced through the characters of two cop partners, one white and one black.
Crowe starred in the irreproachable L.A. Confidential in 1997, a film based on Ellroy’s novel. It garnered the Australian actor some critical acclaim, and before long he was nabbing the leading man roles. After starring as the muscle-bound hero in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Crowe was quickly shaping up to become a big action hero who could actually act. Since then, I’m not sure what happened; his choice of roles has been highly questionable.
The fact is I’ve always thought he was an exceptional actor, who brings nuance to some of the most mundane roles (but let’s not bring up Robin Hood). I’m not sure he’s as bankable as he used to be, but taking on the starring role in a cop drama as well as directing a film for the first time might be setting himself up for a big failure. On the other hand, he’s kind of let himself go in the last few years physically, so maybe it’s the right time for him to make the transition to behind the camera instead of in front of it.