Russell Crowe Channeled Wu Tang’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard For RZA's Man With The Iron Fists
RZA's kung fu actioner The Man With The Iron Fists is already a must-see thanks to its pedigree (RZA co-wrote, directs and stars, Eli Roth co-wrote and produces, Quentin Tarantino "presents"), cast (Lucy Liu, Gordon Liu, Pam Grier to name a few) and stylistic influences (Shaw brothers meets Wu Tang? Yes please!). Speaking with Movieline, RZA dropped another worlds-colliding tidbit that might blow minds when Iron Fists hits theaters November 2: Russell Crowe's mysterious, dagger-twirling character Jack Knife was influenced by none other than the late rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard.
That's right — the spirit of Ol' Dirty Bastard, AKA ODB, AKA Dirt McGirt, AKA Big Baby Jesus, lives on within Oscar-winner Russell Crowe.
“When you see the film you will see a couple of ODB references and you’ll go, 'Okay – that's where he got that from,'" RZA promised when he rang Movieline (look for the full interview next month). "He does an ODB move exactly like ODB would do!"
In the film's press notes, RZA explains further: "My cousin's not here anymore, but I wanted his spirit in the film. Russell and I talked about it, and he loved the idea." The mysterious Jack Knife, an opium-addicted soldier enamored of China named for his weapon of choice, even has a signature jaw harp audio cue reminiscent of ODB's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya."
But the ODB-Crowe connection extended further on set as RZA pointed to the spirit of his late cousin and collaborator when filming hit a snag. "When we talked about the character one day we had a little problem that we had to figure out on the set," RZA told Movieline. "And it seemed like we were going to have a bad day so I had to go to his trailer and tell him what was going on. To get him to feel comfortable at the time, I told him a story about ODB."
He continued: "The story was, one day ODB walked into the studio late as hell. He was so late, he's ruined a whole day and wasted all this money. The beat is playing, he walks in, and in one take he performs "Shame On A Nigga." He does this song in one take and if you notice in the song there’s a part where he goes, 'Shame on a nigga who tries to run game on a —' He doesn’t really finish the hook."
"I was like, 'Do it over.' He said, 'No — that's it. I'm keeping it. That's what I like!' One take. And this one take idea, I explained to Russell, is sometimes just a moment we capture. It doesn't have to be done over and over. 'He's a guy that would come in and do it in one take. So I know we're out of time, but for today you might have to go one-take, ODB-style.' Now of course Russell's a master anyway and he'll do it in one take. But I think telling him that story at that time helped because we were about eight hours late and it helped us capture a lot of things in that one day that it would have taken us two days to do."
Check back for more with RZA and his directorial debut, The Man With The Iron Fists, including our full discussion of his lifelong love of kung fu, working with idol Gordon Liu, learning from the Quentin Tarantino school of cinema, and more.
The Man With The Iron Fists hits theaters November 2.