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Russell Crowe To Play Bill Hicks?
Comedian's biopic to fill Nottingham gap

19 August 2008  |  Written by Helen O'Hara  |  Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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Ridley Scott's Nottingham has been pushed back indefinitely but at least until Spring, what with any self-respecting Robin Hood requiring that leaves be on the trees before he can commence robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. But star Russell Crowe isn't going to let the grass grow under his feet until spring, oh no. Instead, he's trying to get underway with a new biopic of achingly cool comedy legend Bill Hicks.

For those of you not in the know, Hicks was one of the smartest, most acerbic comedians of the 80s and early 90s, who struggled with drink and drugs before getting his career back on track - only to fall victim to cancer at just 32 years old. Despite his tragically young death, he lived long enough and worked hard enough to influence pretty much every comedian since, and has been paid tribute in everything from The Simpsons to the comic series Preacher.

New Zealand writer Mark Staufer has already written a treatment for a possible film, and is now turning that into a draft script, in the hope that it will hit production before the leaves unfold again in Sherwood Forest. And while he has not hitherto been known for comedy Crowe is not a bad likeness for Hicks - check out the AEnima album inlay that shows Hicks depicted here and tell us that doesn't look at least a bit like our favourite phone-chucker - and could do very well at this sort of intense stand up. Even better, enjoy some vintage Hicks standup right here, and see why it is that his biopic is a Good Idea.


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Your Comments

all i can say is as a huge hicks fan i hope they dont do it it goes against all that bill belived in. sadly in the day when no subject is sacred it probably will happen and i can only pray that they dont turn it into another hollywood based on the life of story with only a tenth of it being true. More

Posted by maninblack at 13:39 on 26 August 2008 | Report This Post

No go for Russell Crowe
Absolute bullsyte. Thats all that needs to be said about this topic. Not only is russell crowe NOT funny, but he obviously looks NOTHING like comic master Bill Hicks. The only thing they share in common is that they are both white guys with brown hair. A facking disgrace to even insult the man with ACCUSING him of sharing a likeness to that hollywood toughguy troll. The very concept of a Bill Hicks Biopic goes against everything that Hicks believed in. Just another excuse to put more money in More

Posted by EdwyrdHyde at 18:16 on 25 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
L: Luis Cyphre   last thing we need is someone pretending to be Hicks... ennis Leary already exixts why do we need Crowe doing a bad impersonation of a genius. L: zcarstheme Saw Hicks live twice. You sir are a b@st@rd & I am exceptionally envious of you. I had the chance to see him on his last tour of the UK but couldnt go as was to skint. As has been said by others this Holywoodisation of his life would have gone so against everything he stood for & believed More

Posted by Wullie72 at 09:57 on 25 August 2008 | Report This Post

I died a little bit inside....
when I stumbled across this article. Please god NO More

Posted by Wullie72 at 09:47 on 25 August 2008 | Report This Post

Stuart McDougall
I'm really on the fence about this, alot rides on who will direct. More

Posted by S. J. M at 19:54 on 24 August 2008 | Report This Post

I agree with Rupert303, my heart sank when I saw this article. I was blessed to have seen Hicks live twice, the man was unique. Genius like that just can't be imitated. More

Posted by Flower at 12:20 on 23 August 2008 | Report This Post

Cussack
As far as likenesses go, I think John Cussack looks more like Bill Hicks. More

Posted by Jon 79 at 15:28 on 22 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: They could pay tribute to the man....
I know Bill Hicks was an interesting guy for sure but i dunno how interesting his life was. Plus i'm sure he'd hate the idea of having a biopic about him. More

Posted by somekindof_battery at 02:09 on 22 August 2008 | Report This Post

They could pay tribute to the man....
but doing something really left field, like only focus on his teenage years where he honed his expletive ridden monologues in front of family and friends, or right at the end of his life where he tried to reconcile being clean and sober, diagnosed with cancer and still trying to stay funny. Instead what I thik we'll get is at best a half good simulation of his stand up, in the pursuity of an(other) Oscar for whomever plays him. With Hicks' DVDs and live CDs still widely available, it's not like More

Posted by TheMadFatChickKiller at 22:20 on 21 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: RE:
Or maybe Damon Wayans. Now THAT would be a biopic! More

Posted by rupert303 at 17:09 on 21 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: RE:
I'd be more excited if Crowe played Dwayne Hicks. More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 11:24 on 21 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
Russel Crowe isn’t a piece of casting that really inspires me,  I think he would struggle with the comic timing. But the main thing are how most modern biopics are handled.   For Bill Hicks to be Walk The Lined would be a travesty. More

Posted by rupert303 at 07:20 on 21 August 2008 | Report This Post

absolutely couldnt agree more...I just like the idea of film creators being brave and making courageous decisions that might raise eyebrows, but actually have more substance than people will grant...I like the other guys (sorry, lost your name) point about how people discover Bill Hicks. I want everyone to watch this man cause I think he is incredible, but similarly I remember how I was introduced to Bill Hicks, and hope others might take a chance on something that at first might not seem worthy More

Posted by milham_mark at 22:59 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
L: milham_mark I like many was a bit caught of guard with this story (physical stature preventing my first pick of Paul Giamatti being a feasible option). But do you remember the last time we were all shitting over a decision to cast an aussie in an iconic role? We all know how that turned out...Crowe is a good actor...good enough to play Hicks? We may never find out, but I am curious... oint taken. But playing The Joker is one thing, Bill Hicks is quite another. More

Posted by rupert303 at 22:00 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Russell Crowe To Play Bill Hicks?
I'm a huge Hicks fan and I too hope this dows him the justice he deserves. More

Posted by Workshed at 19:41 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

Over-long
The opening sentence of this article was over-long. Bill Hicks rules. Crowe might do a good job he does not look like Hicks. More

Posted by shanewire at 19:21 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

I like many was a bit caught of guard with this story (physical stature preventing my first pick of Paul Giamatti being a feasible option). But do you remember the last time we were all shitting over a decision to cast an aussie in an iconic role? We all know how that turned out...Crowe is a good actor...good enough to play Hicks? We may never find out, but I am curious... More

Posted by milham_mark at 18:55 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
not enthralled by this at all./i]  with the poster who said that IF the film does have to be made, Jason Bateman would be much more appropriate./i]  h Crowe might surprise, he's too old, the likeness isn't that similar (I have Aenema before anyone points me to that) and hasn't really had much experience with comedy. He may surprise, he may not./i]  as for the film itself, it could work but only if the studios don't pull a Letterman and ask for any references to 'Pepsi Col More

Posted by Jack of Blades at 18:48 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hm
L: tftrman L: Acho L: Piles Dennis Leary should've played him. Get it? es, get it. He's certainly been prepping for the role for quite some time.... I watched one of those "top 50 stand up comedians" programmes and Jimmy Carr was on saying how the accusations of Leary ripping off Hicks were unjustified. It then proceeded to show the Jim Fixx skit by both of them! Hopefully egg was all over Carr's face. yep, leary sucked donkey balls, a la this: www.youtube.com More

Posted by rupert303 at 16:46 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hm
L: Acho L: Piles Dennis Leary should've played him. Get it? es, get it. He's certainly been prepping for the role for quite some time.... sp; I watched one of those "top 50 stand up comedians" programmes and Jimmy Carr was on saying how the accusations of Leary ripping off Hicks were unjustified. It then proceeded to show the Jim Fixx skit by both of them! Hopefully egg was all over Carr's face. More

Posted by tftrman at 16:29 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: RE:
When are they going to make a Richard Pryor movie? More

Posted by Spaldron at 16:16 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
I think I'd rather Russel Fucking Brand than Russel Fucking Crowe. Hell, I'd rather Russ Fucking Abbot! Stupid, stupid idea. More

Posted by walkingdeadted at 14:13 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

I don't think Crowe can pull it off. More

Posted by tomseymour at 12:04 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
This news is like waking up with a big, hairy arse in your face.   Crowe...Hicks...bland Hollywood santisiation of tragic, missunderstood genius....oscar fodder...shudder.   Is there nothing sacred left in the world?   Hicks was one of the last true anti-establishment American heros, and now his memory will be sullied a la Jonny Cash. A whole generation of kids will not be able to discover him on their own, when they are ready.     More

Posted by rupert303 at 08:07 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hm
Ah, they're going for the iconic dead comedian dollar. Huge market there. More

Posted by rawlinson at 03:23 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Hm
L: Piles Dennis Leary should've played him. Get it? es, get it. He's certainly been prepping for the role for quite some time.... More

Posted by Acho at 00:42 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

Hm
Dennis Leary should've played him. Get it? More

Posted by Piles at 00:27 on 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

If it gets made, I'll see it. But...
Like many have commented before, this iconic legend shouldn't have a cash-in on his life story. Then again, the authors of his autobios are not very different from the people behind this production. It would be interesting to see the story come to life on the big screen, but I'll feel a tight grip of guilt while I'm watching. Knowing that the money I paid is going towards the kind of people that Bill stood against. I'll feel a little better if it's a low budget movie, and a percentage of the pro More

Posted by LaughingNabashin at 23:38 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Just kill me now
NO. GOD NO. PLEASE GOD NO. In fact I'm a fucking aethiest and i'm tempted to take up praying if it will stop this from happening. More

Posted by Yorkshirebint at 20:22 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
Just to be clear on this...   Bill Hicks once said;   "I’m going to have a show that rids the world of all these fevered egos that are tainting our collective unconscious."   On the other hand, Russell Crowe once said;   "I don’t give a fuck who you are. Who on earth had the fucking audacity to take out the Best Actor’s poem?"   Whilst allegedly pinning someone against a wall.   Calling Alanis Morrisette.. You know how you spent a whol More

Posted by zcarstheme at 19:14 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Hicks is the closest thing I have to religion...
...and this is news i'm three quarters excited about For all the ways that this could be awful, there's reasons it could be great. Crowe, when on form, can be astounding (The Insider, LA Confidential & Master And Commander proved this....) But he's a bit of a wally, got a temper problem and made A Beautiful Mind. And A Good Year. And the script couldn't put a foot wrong or hoards of slavering Hicks fans would be on the warpath. But I don't agree with whoever said that Hick's li More

Posted by magnusbarfod at 18:54 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Hicks is the closest thing I have to religion...
...and this is news i'm three quarters excited about For all the ways that this could be awful, there's reasons it could be great. Crowe, when on form, can be astounding (The Insider, LA Confidential & Master And Commander proved this....) But he's a bit of a wally, got a temper problem and made A Beautiful Mind. And A Good Year. And the script couldn't put a foot wrong or hoards of slavering Hicks fans would be on the warpath. But I don't agree with whoever said that Hick's li More

Posted by magnusbarfod at 18:38 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Russell Crowe To Play Bill Hicks?
te] ORIGINAL: adzman: I imagine there's hardly a fan of Bill Hicks alice who isn't appalled by this. ink anyone who's a fan of any great stand up (and I count myself as one; comedy coming second to film in "stuff I like to watch") would be more than a little apprehensive about this project. Regardless of Crowe's potential casting (and there are problems enough with that), I just don't see this working as a film. When you have a great, extremely distinctive comedian like Hicks, the whole po More

Posted by Acho at 18:36 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Why does this film even need to be made? Surely Hicks' work is legacy enough without adding some shitty biopic that'll just focus on Hicks as the tortured soul rather than the genius social commentator. How do I know this? Cancer is funnier than Russell Crowe. This is a bad fucking idea and is clearly just some rushed out production line dramedy that's only being made so Crowe won't be scratching his balls 'til Spring. Do yourself a favor; ignore this and buy his One Night Stand DVD. More

Posted by eoghan at 18:12 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Christ
Why does this film even need to be made? Surely Hicks' work is legacy enough without adding some shitty biopic that'll just focus on Hicks as the tortured soul rather than the genius social commentator. How do I know this? Cancer is funnier than Russell Crowe. This is a bad fucking idea and is clearly just some rushed out production line dramedy that's only being made so Crowe won't be scratching his balls 'til Spring. Do yourself a favor; ignore this and buy Hicks' One Night Stand DVD. More

Posted by eoghan at 18:09 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

i feel sick
This is the worst news I've heard all day. Nothing and no one is sacred. Run for the hills! More

Posted by thewicket at 17:55 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

get chas early
he did the excellent stage play 'slight return' at edinburgh fringe last year and is the spitting image of bill in looks and mannerisms. More

Posted by marq at 17:37 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: No Fucking Way
Not sure how to feel about this one...it could be a lot worse than Crowe. The creative team on this project need to tread very, very carefully. More

Posted by The third Jake at 17:22 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

No Fucking Way
Bill once had a dream. That dream was to hunt down and kill Billy Ray Cyrus. If these money grabbing dipshit hollywood producers go ahead and piss all over the memory of Bill Hicks then I say we leave Billy Ray alone and instead hunt down and kill Russell Crowe. Rumour has it he also sucks Satans cock . More

Posted by Dante1975 at 17:15 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
L: TheDuffMan Fuckin genius. Great casting. always been a massive fan of bill hicks. lets just hope the film does the great man justice. sp; Are you being ironic? More

Posted by adzman at 15:35 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Fuckin genius. Great casting. always been a massive fan of bill hicks. lets just hope the film does the great man justice. More

Posted by TheDuffMan at 15:00 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Not today.
L: zcarstheme ks live twice.t believe in having heroes but he was the closest thing I ever had. His death was just a rumour for pre-internet and none of the mainstream press gave a shit. Didn't actually get proper confirmation until a tiny bit in the NME over a week after I'd first heard it as a possibility. Horrible thing. The fact this movie's being made at all is depressing but inevitable. The casting of Crowe (who's not only bad casting, but is already over ten years older tha More

Posted by Mr Underhill at 14:38 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Crowe does look like Hicks. He could definitely do Hicks' righteous anger well. He's about 10 years older than Hicks was when he died but I'm still buying it. Yeah, this could possibly work... More

Posted by disgruntled_goat at 14:38 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Why not Denis Leary & really drive the nail into the coffin?
L: Summeroflovebollox Chas Early, the British actor, who has toured worldwide in "Bill Hicks - A Slight Return" would be an infinitely better choice than Crowe, who is too old, too insensitive and utterly unfunny. sp; God, that show made me want to murder.   But that was largely because the concept was fundamentally broken. Early himself was fine and convincing.. It was just the fucking gall of the idea of writing 'new' Hicks material that got me. See, I've nothing agains More

Posted by zcarstheme at 14:28 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
I don't understand all the complaints. Why is Russel such a bad choice? He's a good actor and he doesn't need to be a natural comedian to play this part. Hicks' life wasn't exactly a laugh-riot anyway. Let's not forget that Dustin Hoffman is nothing like Lenny Bruce in real life, but the guy played him really well. In fact, I could see this film being like Lenny and that was no comedy. I think that Russell is a good choice for the part. More

Posted by eruptus at 13:42 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

This is absolutely awful news... goes completely against everything Hicks stands/stood for, disgrace, last thing we need is someone pretending to be Hicks... Let Crowe & Co. just continue the cop out and earn some money from Ads instead, may as well complete the decent into hell... "Will there be titty?" More

Posted by Luis Cyphre at 13:41 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

No
John Cusack anybody? More

Posted by FoxDhoj at 13:21 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

doco
I guess it best to say a documantary on the man would be far more acceptable. More

Posted by mudskins at 13:00 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

More Importantly...
Why are we missing the glaring obvious? Does this not go against everything Hick's stood for? A Hollywood Biopic with a big name star? In true Hick's style, I think that can fuck right off. More

Posted by UGonnaBarkAllDayDog? at 12:52 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Why not Denis Leary & really drive the nail into the coffin?
Russell crowe is no Heath Ledger. He is not a good enough actor to carry off the subtle genius of Bill Hicks. He certainly does not have the comic timing, clownishly expressive face, or sensitivity of the mysanthropic, humanist, Bill Hicks. He probably doesn't even know what that means! Why do studios insist on using "Big Names" instead of the right actor for the job? Why don't they make stars instead of lazily relying on the same old hacks to bring in the box office receipts? Chas Early, More

Posted by Summeroflovebollox at 12:43 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

And Hollywood just keeps a-rapin'..... More

Posted by dunkah at 12:30 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
L: UTB Someone like Jim Carrey would be much more suited. sp; Dear. God.   No, just.........No. More

Posted by tftrman at 12:29 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Russell Crowe To Play Bill Hicks?
Ugh. A Bill Hicks biopic should be a balls-to-the-wall indie flick with all its guts intact. Russell Crowe is a terrible choice, Giamatti not much better. I'd say go for Zac Orth - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0651008/ - who bears a passing resemblance to Hicks in a few films I've seen him in. His photo on IMDB is awful, but take my word for it. More

Posted by djsmokingjam at 12:24 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE:
JIM CAREY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Have you skipped your medication?  or are you mistaking Bill Hicks for someone else?   Fact is no one should be making this film!  Can you imagine a sentimental smaltzy ending to a biopic of Hicks?   It's just not possible to recreate him, he was a true individual and it should be left alone.   That's my opinion anyway. More

Posted by adzman at 12:10 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

I'd be happy to see a biopic of Hicks but Russell Crowe? You must be fucking joking. Someone like Jim Carrey would be much more suited. More

Posted by UTB at 11:39 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

I imagine there's hardly a fan of Bill Hicks alice who isn't appalled by this. More

Posted by adzman at 11:18 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Tool
Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! I can't believe they're planning to make this film in the first place....but Russell fuckin' Crowe....jeez people, I hope they were high when they made that decision and that it's just a horrible, horrible joke....in the word of the great man himself..“I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.” More

Posted by Beatrice Kiddo at 10:55 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Tool
Would be even better to see Maynard and the boys from Tool do a cameo as themselves as they were good friends and Bill was going to be opening some shows for them but unfortunately he passed. I am a big fan on Paul Giamatti but Russ would be good, If you have seen any Bill Hicks he would fit the dry shtick well. More

Posted by mudskins at 10:46 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

This is definitely an interesting role for Crowe. I've been waiting for him to do something different for awhile. After The Insider, he's done mostly Ron Howard or Ridley Scott films, it's time for something else. More

Posted by eruptus at 10:35 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Russell Crowe To Play Bill Hicks?
Russell Crowe?  Far too old, and about as funny as pancreatic cancer. Hopefully this abomination never comes to fruition. More

Posted by My name is Legion at 10:31 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Not today.
Please, please, please let Tool do at least part of the soundtrack! More

Posted by Kittys_Gremlin at 09:53 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Not today.
Saw Hicks live twice. I don't believe in having heroes but he was the closest thing I ever had. His death was just a rumour for pre-internet and none of the mainstream press gave a shit. Didn't actually get proper confirmation until a tiny bit in the NME over a week after I'd first heard it as a possibility. Horrible thing.   The fact this movie's being made at all is depressing but inevitable. The casting of Crowe (who's not only bad casting, but is already over ten years older t More

Posted by zcarstheme at 09:48 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Not today.
Crowe is a bad choice and is at least ten years too old. I always thought that Jason Bateman would be good at playing Hicks. More

Posted by Otis Fett at 09:19 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: You're wrong O'Hara, this biopic is a bad idea
Love All The People is a great read. I recently watched a set of his in Montreal when he's discussing the Bush administration and their war with Iraq, he could have just been talking about now. A true visionary. More

Posted by tftrman at 09:14 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

You're wrong O'Hara, this biopic is a bad idea
Hicks was a fantastic comedian and my favourite stand up comic but why the hell is a biopic needed? Bill's "struggle" with drink and drugs was about the same that every young adult goes through when they one day realise "shit, I've been overdoing it lately". Its not the scandalous "genius with severe personal/substance problems" that Hollywood biopics usually turn out but I can imagine that film makers would try and sex it up. Bill was very sharp and probably inf More

Posted by Marwood at 09:10 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Nottingham is back on.
Work starts again next week. More

Posted by khac6876 at 09:09 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Russell Crowe To Play Bill Hicks?
Strange choice for the role, but I'm not uninterested. More

Posted by Kazuya at 09:04 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

PAUL GIAMATTI. Not fucking Crowe. More

Posted by wooz at 09:00 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

Is nothing sacred?
Bill Hicks was a genius, would he of approved of this? Probably not. I'm actually lost for words on this one. I suppose if it brings Hicks more to the lime light at a time when a voice like his is desparately needed then some good will come of it. More

Posted by adzman at 08:33 on 19 August 2008 | Report This Post

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