Imagine Entertainment’s “A Beautiful Mind,” a Ron Howard-helmed drama to be released in December, focuses on the life of John Forbes Nash Jr., a Nobel-winning mathematician inflicted with schizophrenia.
When casting began, the producers were looking for an actor who could meet the challenge of portraying a man so intricate and multifaceted. According to Howard, Russell Crowe was the ideal choice.
“He exudes a kind of complexity because he’s not just one thing,” says Howard. “He’s physical and he’s intelligent, he’s great looking but he’s a real person. I thought it made him a perfect candidate for our film.”
The helmer says the script for “Mind,” penned by Akiva Goldsman, was a popular one since the first draft was circulated and the producers received several calls from agents, including Crowe’s agent George Freeman, expressing interest. “Gladiator” had not been released, but producer Brian Grazer says he already was impressed with the power of the thesp’s acting, especially in “The Insider.”
“I felt he showed, in his body of work, an amazing amount of range and intensity,” says Grazer. “He was perfect for Nash because he’s living multiple worlds and multiple realities.”
The film, which co-stars Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly and Christopher Plummer, and will begin shooting in March, follows the rapid rise of Nash, who early in his career makes an astonishing discovery and stood on the brink of international acclaim. However, mental illness and a series of other obstacles, send Nash on a frustrating and enlightening journey of self-discovery.
Howard says Grazer was attracted to the story because of “the amazing complexity of the character and what is ultimately an unsentimental but triumphant quality to the story.”
Goldsman, who calls the movie “a working metaphor for the human mind,” says Crowe is the ideal actor to take on the challenge of playing Nash and early signs have everyone working on the movie enthused.
“It’s a really lengthy journey for an actor to take all in one picture. There are a lot of turns in the road and Russell is extraordinary in that way,” says Goldsman. “He’s a powerful talent and has a real profound understanding of this material. It’s been really exciting already in the readings watching him become John Nash.”