Movie Fact #94 - November 19th, 2020
While he considered casting Val Kilmer alongside for the role of Jeffrey Wigand in his 1999 film The Insider, director Michael Mann chose to only have one star from his previous film Heat with Al Pacino playing Lowell Bergman. For the role of Wigand, producer Pieter Jan Brugge suggested Russell Crowe and after seeing him in L.A. Confidential, Mann actually flew Crowe down from Canada where he was on location filming Mystery, Alaska. On the actor's one day off, Mann had him read scenes from The Insider screenplay for two to three hours. When Crowe read the scene where Wigand finds out that the 60 Minutes interview he did will not be aired, he captured the essence of Wigand so well that Mann knew he had found the perfect actor for the role although Crowe was apprehensive at playing someone much older than himself, being only 33 years old at the time. Particularly because he felt there were so many good actors in that age range. However, he was cast nonetheless.
After he was cast, Crowe and Mann spent six weeks together before shooting began. They talked about his character and his props, clothes and accessories while Crowe put on 35 pounds (16 kg) for the role, shaved back his hairline, bleached his hair seven times, and had a daily application of wrinkles and liver spots to his skin to transform himself into Wigand who was in his early-to-mid-50's during the events depicted in the film. However, Crowe was not able to talk to Wigand about his experiences because he was still bound by his confidentiality agreement during much of the film's development period so, to get a handle on the man's voice and how he talked, Crowe listened repeatedly to a six-hour tape of Wigand. So, it seems right that Crowe would ultimately be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role. He definitely earned it. Stay tuned!