With Russell Crowe character attributes that might code the star as a narcissistic diva are recontextualized, constructing an authentic figure whose occasional acting out enhances his masculinity rather than feminizing him. This article contrasts the notion of the performer as an authentic “work in progress” with the superficial “finished product” that is the diva. Through a process of the melodramatic emergence of character, Crowe becomes a star who is always “finding himself,” avoiding the narcissism of a to-be-revered divalike object of worship. His emergence is traceable to the recurrent loner figure of his pre-Hollywood film roles, where he is presented as vulnerable and accessible to audience identification because he is incomplete and always developing. Crowe's work in L.A. Confidential sustains his star emergence by negotiating violent temperament and vulnerable authenticity within the narrative itself. With the extracinematic publicity and critical texts appearing after this film, the actor's by then well-publicized aggressive tendencies are reworked as signs of the a actor's authenticity as he follows a path of supposed self-discovery. Crowe's recent film roles have ameliorated the excessive display of his solipsistic offscreen persona. Converting excess into a form of labor that authenticates and remasculinizes the star, these roles recast the negative divaseque attributes of the actor's offscreen star persona by constructing the actor as a passionate leader whose social responsibilities obligate him to behave as he does. As a result, Crowe's pathological acting out now signals a greater authenticity, as well as his dedication to improving the quality of his work and his life.
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Michael DeAngelis; Cinderella Man: Russell Crowe as Il Diva. Camera Obscura 1 May 2008; 23 (1 (67)): 47–67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2007-023
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