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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

"Mind" Press Conference; Interview of Baz Luhrmann

Aired February 12, 2002 - 13:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Today was the second biggest day regarding the Oscars. The nominations came out. The ceremony takes place on the 24th of March. But, in Berlin, Germany, right now, the cast and crew, the director, Russell Crowe, the director Ron Howard, also right now meeting with reporters. We will dip in and listen in Berlin, Germany.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: rest of my career.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, please.

QUESTION: My question is to Mr. Crowe. You are playing, in this movie the outstanding (ph) scientist, mathematician. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) But what was your marks at school in the lessons of mathematics, and does these formulas which you are drawing in movies have any scientific significance?

RUSSELL CROWE, ACTOR: Mathematics and I parted company when I was about 14. The school that I was at at that time -- we'd just recently moved from Australia to New Zealand -- had hired, and I was at Orphan Boys Grammar (ph), and they had hired a man who was probably extremely talented in his field, his name is Mr. Kleiner (ph), and he came from Hungary to New Zealand, and he hadn't yet learned to speak English, which made the process of education even more difficult than it may have otherwise been.

So I did other things during the course of mathematics classes. I don't regret that. I'm fine with it. I'm -- you know -- in conjunction with a fellow called Dave Buyer (ph) who is the mathematics consultant on the film, what I am scribbling on those windows and chalk boards is a series of problems and conjectures that mathematicians will enjoy working through. They are genuine equations. However, every now and then, I would just throw in a completely incorrect number, just for balance. Thank you.

HEMMER: All right, Russell Crowe, the cast and crew of "Beautiful Mind." They are in Berlin, Germany. Russell Crowe also picked up a best actor nomination. Ron Howard, the director, picked up a best director nomination as well. "Beautiful Mind" there, meeting reporters there, in Berlin.

And as you saw earlier today, 8 nominations for "Moulin Rouge" including best picture. Baz Luhrmann directed the film. He joins us live this morning from Miami.

Good afternoon to you and congratulations.

BAZ LUHRMANN: Thanks, Bill.

HEMMER: You saw eight come and go there in Hollywood earlier today, and our film critic earlier today, no offense, said it was a bit surprised that "Moulin Rouge" sneaked in there on the best picture nomination. Are you surprised or not, Baz?

LUHRMANN: Well, I'm certainly really honored, and I think it's a great moment in terms of, you know, I guess what your critic is saying is that there's been a passionate for and against the film, and what has happened is that we've had this fantastic embracing of the idea that a musical can be back in the place where it came from. Musicals used to be nominated a great deal in the best picture category. Not since 1979 has a musical been nominated, and that's been a five-year passion of ours, of every single person involved in "Moulin Rouge," is to see the musical to be legitimate again. To bring it back to where it came from. So, you know, it's been a long journey. We're really incredibly happy any about it, you know.

HEMMER: Hey, Baz, there is a lot of musicals out there. What drew you to this one?

LUHRMANN: You know, this is a completely new -- you know, we began -- it's the end of a 10-year journey for me. I began with "Strictly Ballroom," (ph) the first film I made, and then "Romeo and Juliette," and now "Moulin Rouge" was a break out in song musical form (ph). They all belong to the same trilogy of films, and we began from absolute scratch. You know, we started with a basic niche (ph), we looked at the history of musicals, and we tried to construct a classic musical, but in a very modern way, and that was the sort of process we went on.

HEMMER: Nicole Kidman also picked up a nomination for best actress.

LUHRMANN: Well, that's incredible.

HEMMER: Go ahead.

LUHRMANN: Well, I think that's incredible because I think what has happened is people are now seeing the movie. So many people haven't actually seen the film, and they are recognizing that she not only plays comedy, but also plays tragedy. Drama in the film, and she sings and she dances and she dies (ph). So to me, that's a great, great nomination. I'm so proud of her.

HEMMER: Listen, I would think for you and Nicole and the rest of the cast and crew, that indeed this is the moment that really helps a lot of people become aware of the work you did, and a lot of people say the Oscars help to elevate some films, but certainly this would be a case example, would it not?

LUHRMANN: You're absolutely right, Bill. I mean, the great thing about these nominations is that shines light -- I mean, I really believe when you get a great body of movies up there like you've got now, and one is not better than the other, but some films need this light shown upon them, so they actually get an audience to go and see them, and I think "Moulin Rouge" is still playing in theaters, and I think it is going to have a great effect on that, and that's why we get out there and try and be part of the awards season, you know.

HEMMER: I know you said one is not better than the others, but look at the list here, if you could. "Lord of the Rings," "Beautiful Mind," "Gosford Park," "In the Bedroom." Have you seen those other films?

LUHRMANN: Not all of them, but the ones I have seen were all remarkable. But think back to last year, you know, between "Traffic" and "Crouching Tiger" and "Gladiator," all fantastic films. One is not really better than the other, it is just a personal taste. Some people like Westerns, and the great thing is, to be amongst those films is to say, well, this year those films pushed the envelope in terms of cinematic language this year, and that's a great, great honor, and we're over the moon about it, of course.

HEMMER: Go ahead and flatter yourself. What do you think the Academy liked about your film?

LUHRMANN: I think more than anything, probably the -- there's this word out there called "audacious." I mean, people said, for five years, they said it could not be done. A musical could not work again. There is a lot of critics who were less than embracing of it, and yet there were a lot of critics who were unbelievably passionate about it.

So I think more than anything, it is that, plus the musical form. From "West Side Story" to "Cabaret," these films -- in the year that "Godfather" won best picture, Liza Mineli (ph) won best actress, and Bob Fost (ph) best director. It used to be up there with drama, and it should be again. That would be obvious.

HEMMER: Hey listen, congratulations.

LUHRMANN: Thanks, man.

HEMMER: Good luck in Hollywood on March 24, okay?

LUHRMANN: Thank you, Bill.

HEMMER: Baz Luhrmann, director of "Moulin Rouge," eight nominations across that film earlier today. Thank you, pal, we'll talk again, okay?

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