Russell Crowe, road rage stalker in new movie Unhinged, says anger has become prevalent in Western society

Russell Crowe in Unhinged.
PHOTO: mm2 Entertainment

Many of us are no strangers to road rage incidents — whether we're the perpetrators or the victims. But what happens if a simple honk turns out to be one of the worst nightmares of your life?

That's what American thriller film Unhinged seeks to explore as Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe takes on the role of an unstable stranger who stalks a woman after a road rage confrontation.

In an email interview with AsiaOne, the 56-year-old Hollywood actor revealed that he initially didn't want to take up the role as he found the character's actions to be irrational.

He explained: "Well, my first reaction to the script was that it wasn't going to be something that I would ever do, because there wasn't any rational process behind the character's actions that I could see.

"There wasn't any decision-making infrastructure that I could believe in that would bring him to that place, there was only the result of his sort of singular belief that his life meant nothing and everybody else was to blame for that. I didn't want to do a character like that, because I'm fundamentally worried that that's actually where we are."

But ironically, it was also the fact that the character reflected the current state of affairs in the world which made Russell do a 180. He told BBC that the role reflected a type of rage that is prevalent in the Western society.

Russell said: "I started to realise this type of rage is happening continuously all over the place, that seems to be a place we've arrived at in Western society. For our example, it's a guy using a car as a weapon, but it's also people stepping into places of worship, schools, nightclubs, and opening fire. It's people going crazy in a supermarket over toilet rolls."

Character has no charm or humanity

While speaking to Unhinged's director Derrick Borte, Russell started to gain a different perspective of the character even though both parties agreed that his actions were unjustifiable.

It even became a challenge for the seasoned actor, who has to portray a role that has "absolutely zero charm or, you know, humanity".

Russell explained to AsiaOne: "He's disconnected on all levels, and then that started to be interesting to me. And particularly as we keep seeing things like this play out in front of our very eyes.

"People who perhaps pick up a gun, or in this case, turn on the engine of his car, and have the full intent of using that to its most destructive possibilities. It became a thing, where the level of fear was such that then I had to do it, you know?"

New Zealand actress Caren Pistorius plays the woman being stalked, and it's safe to say that she held her own against the A-lister as Russell had nothing but praise for her. In fact, he even likened her to a "young Meryl Streep".

He said: "She has such a presence on screen. A kind of a young Meryl Streep vibe. She makes that character's journey a lot more detailed and nuanced, and you can feel her strength building up and she never gives up... It was Caren's first leading actress performance in a feature film and she's done extremely well."

Unhinged is now showing in local cinemas, and is rated NC16 for violence and coarse language. Simply answer the question below for a chance to win a pair of passes to the movie at Cathay Cineplexes. Three pairs will be given away.

Unhinged Movie Passes Giveaway

This article was brought to you in partnership with mm2 Entertainment.

bryanlim@asiaone.com