Russell Crowe is known for his intensive preparation for his roles. Certainly the good old fashioned cowboy of 3:10 to Yuma is mild compared to his other Oscar nominated roles. Still, Crowe doesn't like the focus on his craft, so he downplayed the legendary skills.
Russell Crowe on 3:10 to Yuma
"I think that we should decide not to talk about preparation just this once because then it all just becomes about preparation and not about the movie," he said. "The thing is that I was working on another movie right up to this and then promoting another film in Europe and so I didn't really do that much preparation. But as you might know I have a working farm and so there were a lot of things on this movie that are just part of my day to day."
3:10 to Yuma is not Crowe's first Western either, so he had already done much of the work for The Quick and the Dead. "I had the good fortune of working with a guy called Thell Reed who was an armorer at a point in my life where I'd never even touched a handgun before. He sort of utilized that and put a lot of information in my head because he didn't have to get past things that my dad had taught me incorrectly or my uncles had taught me badly as he finds with a lot of American actors when he works with period guns. So it was just a matter of taking that same information, refreshing it in my mind and then changing the style of how this particular guy killed people."
James Mangold's remake of 3:10 to Yuma casts Crowe as Ben Wade, the charismatic outlaw being escorted to the prison train. Though he remains enigmatic, shifting allegiances throughout the film, Crowe did not see him as a bad guy with a conscience.
"He's just very efficient at surviving whatever situation he's in. There's a history that's talked about in the film and whether or not that's the complete version of his life's story is a different thing. You sort of assume all the experiences that an abandoned child might have and all of those things will add up to where he is. I think one of the important things is that because we had no history of Wade, we don't know his future, we don't know if he gets captured and all of that stuff, so I was always taking the attitude that he was actually very successful at what he did and that was probably the fourth or fifth version of his 'gang.' There's a story in The Princess Bride where they talk about the Dread Pirate Roberts changing hands and that would go through my mind in terms of explaining him."
The film also gives us a slight insight into the real Russell Crowe, at least how the real life rancher handles a horse. "I'm an absolute horse lover. I've always found that, even from the time of being a little kid, that just like people there are some horses that you sort of have a deep connection with immediately and you can work on that over time. I've found over the years that for me it's the antithesis of some other people's thought processes. The gentler you are and the more constant you are with the horse the deeper that connection gets. It's funny though, doing these sort of movies and I've done a few with animals, because you get really close to them as the working relationship is quite intense working ten or twelve hours a day for a number of months and so it gets hard to say goodbye."