With ‘The Equalizer,’ Russell Crowe will look to set things right

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EXCLUSIVE: Russell Crowe has been on the business end of some rough news lately, first some mixed response to, and results for, his ‘Robin Hood,’ and then that scurrilous Web rumor that he’d, um, died. (The report had him falling off an Austrian mountaintop -- it was the usual hoax.) He could use a man like Edward Woodward’s character from ‘The Equalizer’ to help him out.

Now Crowe will have the chance to call on just such a man. Actually, he’ll do one better: he’ll have the chance be that man.


The actor has attached himself to play Robert McCall, the mysterious agent made famous by Woodward in the 1980s CBS crime series. Fans of the series will remember that McCall’s background was murky -- he once worked for a top-secret agency, where he did some pretty horrible things -- and we watched him every week in his new, repentance-minded guise, righting wrongs for the persecuted by settling scores with their persecutors (and assorted miscreants).

Crowe will be seen in another character-driven thriller -- the kind of role in which he excels -- when he unites with Paul Haggis in the thriller ‘The Next Three Days,’ in which he plays the husband whose wife is wrongly accused of murder. Crowe is also loosely attached to some other films, but does not have a new movie lined up.

Mired for years in development at the Weinstein Co., the cinematic reimagining of ‘The Equalizer’ now is with a group of high-level producers: industry veteran Mace Neufeld (‘Hunt for Red October’ and a slew of action hits), who’s actually been involved for a while; Adam Sandler collaborator Alex Siskin; and Escape Artists, the company that produced action movies like ‘The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3’ and darker films like ‘Seven Pounds.’ There’s no studio on board yet, but it’s been making the rounds to a number of Hollywood studios for several weeks, some of which have shown interest.
There’s good reason for that. The 1980s have shown some box-office life with ‘The Karate Kid,’ which became an unqualified hit last weekend. Of course, that was a family-oriented crowd-pleaser. Going gritty didn’t work, on any level, with another ‘80s revival in ‘The A-Team.’ And there’s no shooting script, so don’t expect to see this at the multiplex anytime soon.

But a man with a mysterious past and a dark edgy side would certainly be a juicy role for Crowe. We’re already salivating over the media interviews that might come with it.

-- Steven Zeitchik

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