NBC NEWS' MATT LAUER TALKS WITH THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE NEW FILM "AMERICAN GANGSTER" ON A SPECIAL "DATELINE NBC" � SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28 AT 10:30 PM ET
New York, NY � October 24, 2007 � NBC News' Matt Lauer sits down with the people behind the new politically and emotionally explosive movie "American Gangster" � actors Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, director Ridley Scott, producer Brian Grazer, the real-life American Gangster, Frank Lucas and prosecutor, Richie Roberts, in a special airing of "Dateline NBC" Sunday, October 28 at 10:30 PM ET.
"American Gangster," an NBC Universal film, has been the center of controversy with some critics accusing it of glorifying Lucas and the gangster life, while singing the praises of the acting performances of Washington and Crowe.
Following are some excerpts from the interview; if used media outlet must source NBC News and include programming information:
Re: Portraying a gangster:
Washington: "When I met him (Lucas), he said 'You know, I want you to play me�and when you get the Oscar�' and I said, Frank, look, I'm not here to glorify you, man. You did a lot of dirt. And you paid the price. And you're still paying a price. I just happen to find that an interesting story."
Re. The two acting powerhouses involved:
Lauer: "It was described to me as almost an acting showdown. I thought that was a curious word from-- a showdown meaning-- it seems-- sounds to me as if this would be a battle of egos, of resumes, of-- of credentials."
Washington: "Yes, we both brought our resumes in."
Lauer: "How do you deal with it? Is it different going up against someone like Russell Crowe in a scene?"
Washington: "It's like dancing. It's like saying you're gonna dance with your partner, but it's a competition. You're dancing with your partner. Sometimes one flips the other one up in the air or vice-a versa. It's not a competition -- it's not a match-- And if the other person isn't good, you're not good. I want the other person to be good. I don't wanna-- it's not like winning. It's like, 'Oh, I'll do things to sabotage him.' Well, that's first of all, I can't. But more importantly, then it won't be a good scene. It's not like you leave and go, 'Oh, I got him.' Wow, was a terrible scene. Yeah, but I got him though. Didn't make the movie. But I got him."
Re. Which roles of each other's they'd like to have:
Washington: "So you asked me is there a role that I would have done. Definitely 'The Insider.' All right, I'm done�as I think about it, and looking at the way he interpreted the role, I thought that was, for me, that's one of his best performances was 'The Insider."
Crowe: "All right."
Washington: "And-- and again, it's still not-- I'd wanna play that. It's more like I'd be curious to talk to him about how he got into that or where his head was at with that or whatever."
Crowe: "My answer would be -- I could probably go all the way back to the beginning of Denzel's career as an actor. I'm probably wanna do pretty much every one of his choices at some point. Cause they're quality choices. It's simple as that. He makes really good movies. He puts things in front of him that are made to challenge him. If somebody would allow me to do the types of roles that he's played, if somebody offered me those roles, you know, I wouldn't say I wouldn't stop at those four men, you know, there's 'Malcolm X.' There's a whole bunch of films in there that are just very, very special. Trust me."
Washington: "Just an opportunity."
Crowe: "I would bring something."
Washington: "You'll bring something to it. Right."
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David Corvo is the executive producer of "Dateline NBC."