Russell Crowe will make his directorial debut on a film covering the life of the late, revered comedian Bill Hicks. Hicks was just 32 when he died of pancreatic cancer in 1994.
This news comes courtesy of Australia’s The Daily Telegraph, which spoke with the film’s screenwriter Mark Staufer, who is Crowe’s former schoolmate. Crowe will not star in the film, which is scheduled to start production early next year.
Film Drunk is frustrated about Crowe covering Hicks, stressing that the actor doesn’t “understand comedy.” Well, Bob Fosse wasn’t a comedic genius and “Lenny” is a damn good movie because Lenny Bruce was hell-bent on being a martyr. And it’s a safe bet that Crowe won’t be directing a straight-up comedy since Hicks’ life was turbulent. Check out this excerpt from “Entertainment Weekly’s” terrific remembrance.
Hicks joined the comedy circuit for good in 1980. By 1983 he was opening for [Jay] Leno, which led to his first appearance on [David] Letterman’s show. But the following year, Hicks took the drugs-and-drink detour. Night after night, he and [Sam] Kinison would stay up snorting coke, downing whiskey, and dissecting religion. (A spiritual man, Hicks had read the Bible several dozen times, studied Hindu texts, and meditated regularly.) The partying didn’t help his act. ”He’d have these terrible shows,” says David Johndrow, a friend of Hicks’ since high school. ”By the end, he’d just be sitting on the edge of the stage, depressed, telling the audience how f—ed up they were and how f—ed up he was.”
”I was an embarrassing drunk,” Hicks once admitted. ”I’d get pulled over by the cops and I’d be so drunk I’d be dancing in their lights thinking I’d made it to the next club. What’s this, a leather bar?”
By most accounts, Hicks hit bottom in Austin, Tex., one night in 1988, when a bartender threw him up against a jukebox and broke his leg. Shortly thereafter he went cold turkey.
Of course, we don’t know who’s playing Hicks, the quality of the screenplay, or if Crowe picked up any tips working with the likes of Michael Mann and Ridley Scott. But the great comic’s abrupt life seems to fit Crowe’s intense sensibilities. That has to count for something.