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Russell Crowe Challenged as Much by Costume as Role in ‘Man of Steel’

After more than two decades in the game, Russell Crowe has become well-known for not just the intensity of his performances but the preparation he undergoes for those performances. But in “Man of Steel,” Crowe seemingly met his match as he geared up to play Superman’s father Jor-El, thanks to a costume that he described as “one of the toughest he ever had to wear.”

“The spandex in this thing is like four layers,” Crowe told MTV News at the film’s Los Angeles press day. “And then when you put the ceremonial robes on top and 40-pound leather cape and all of that sort of [stuff], it’s fine if you’re just standing there but when you have to jump around doing fight sequences and everything, it was a bit of a challenge.”

Although Crowe was required to participate in some considerably physical sequences, including a fight scene with co-star Michael Shannon, who plays General Zod, the acclaimed actor suggested that the biggest obstacle in the costume was decidedly more mundane.

“The main challenge is probably not being able to go to the bathroom for eight hours at a time,” he confessed. “Once you’re in your costume, you’re stuck in it until lunchtime, because it was 20-25 minutes just to get out of it. So there was a lot of new and interesting things on this.”

In “Man of Steel,” Crowe provides the film’s philosophical core: after sending Kal-El to Earth to save him, his “consciousness” nurtures his son through the moral and spiritual minefield of being a citizen of two planets. This required him to not just inhabit the role, but interpret it through the filter of an instructional computer program. Remarkably, he said that part of his role was relatively easy to tap into.

“The thing is, every movie you do is pretend,” he observed. “When we were doing ‘Gladiator,’ we only had one third of the Colosseum, so you were reminded in every split second it was only pretend. And that stuff doesn’t bother you, it goes with the territory. But I did a CGI-heavy movie in 1995 called ‘Virtuosity’ and that was when you had to be really mathematically specific in order for things to be done properly — and now it’s a bit more fluid. You can exist in that space a lot more naturally, so it was kind of fun.”
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