Sleeping Dogs Filmmaker on Directing ‘Cinematic Idol’ Russell Crowe


Sometimes, it’s A-OK to meet your heroes. And one could say that happened on the set of Sleeping Dogs, which is now playing in theaters. Director Adam Cooper had the chance to work with Oscar winner Russell Crowe, who — as we learned from our recent interview — is Cooper’s “cinematic idol.” Sleeping Dogs sees Crowe back in the spotlight as a gritty ex-detective who returns to the scene after a death row confession leads him to a murder case from 10 years earlier.




Cooper is known for penning scripts for high-profile genre projects like Assassin’s Creed and Allegiant, and Sleeping Dogs marks his first outing in the director’s chair. He shared with us the perks of working with Crowe, what it was like helming a feature film, and why Red Dead Redemption would make for a great movie.


Directing Russell Crowe Was ‘Equal Parts Exhilarating and Terrifying’

Sleeping Dogs

1.5/5

Release Date
April 25, 2024

Runtime
110 Minutes

Studio
Film Victoria, G2 Dispatch, Gala Media Capital

Watching the masterful Crowe play a thoughtful investigator never seems to fail to catch our eye. Despite the fact that he’s getting up there in age, he remains a performative powerhouse. “It was exhilarating, equal parts exciting and terrifying, as exhilarating as experiences can be,” Cooper told MovieWeb in describing what it was like working with Crowe, adding:


“I’m very, very grateful that working with an actor of Russell’s caliber was my first experience.
He’s a total pro. My job in a lot of ways was just to get out of the way, because you turn the camera on, and it is a gift, every single take
. So it was incredible. I mean, I got to spend basically six weeks in Melbourne, Australia with him. He’s one of my cinematic idols. So to get to do that was just awesome.”

Those familiar with Crowe’s work know that he’s played law enforcement roles in past acclaimed films like L.A. Confidential and American Gangster. “There were certainly moments where I felt like I was on the sets of other movies,” said Cooper in describing what it was like seeing Crowe in action in front of the camera.


Turning The Book of Mirrors Into a Movie with Crowe

Russell Crowe in Sleeping Dogs (2024)
The Avenue

Cooper also described the source material behind a gripping story like Sleeping Dogs, and the unique way in which he went about adapting it. “It’s called The Book of Mirrors, it was written by a Romanian thriller author named Eugen Chirovici, who is writing in English for the very first time. Really great book,” explained Cooper. He continued:

“The character that Russell plays is a character who’s really plucked out of the last third of that book. He’s not the central figure, so what we did is, we sort of took the action of the narrative and sort of reframed it through the eyes of this character because we felt like it was a more compelling way to sort of tell the story, given that it was
a murder mystery
.”


4:37

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Going from being a writer to directing is a leap in collective responsibility, but Cooper is confident he wants to keep doing it. “I’m working on something else that I hope I’ll get to direct,” he said. “It’s different from being a writer, and it’s more responsibility. Like, you write something and, more often than not, you kind of ship it off. And then at some point, somebody will tell you how it’s going or what’s going on with it. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some dailies or something like that.”


“But [with directing], you’re responsible for being in charge of the whole story and all of its areas, and making sure that it’s cohesive, and it comes together,” continued Cooper. “You learn a lot about what’s practical and what’s not. You write something on a page, and you don’t have to think about how it’s going to happen. When you’re directing it, you have to figure out how that’s going to happen. And I was fortunate to have a lot of incredibly talented people around me, helping me figure out how something was going to happen. But it was a wild experience.”

Adapting Books — and Video Games


And on that note, looking ahead, Cooper is keeping busy with what sounds like a unique new project in the works. “I’m really drawn to characters who are in crisis. And that can be a crisis of conscience or faith, or identity, or finance, or whatever it is, and following that character on the journey, where they are somehow made more whole again, which doesn’t always mean that they’re better,” he told us, sharing some information about his next project:

I’m working on sort of this elevated sci-fi piece that I’d really like to direct. It’s bigger than this movie is. But in the way that this movie deals with some issues around sort of identity, that movie likewise deals with some issues around identity.

“But I started as a comedy writer,” explained Cooper, “and then sort of evolved more to the dramatic stuff, not knowing when I was a young writer that if you write something that’s funny, people then call you a comedy writer. But I think I’m drawn to more sort of dramatic content these days than I am comedic content. I mean, I love to laugh, but maybe as I get older, I’m just less funny.”


Assassin's Creed movie 2016
20th Century Fox

As mentioned earlier, Cooper wrote the script for the feature film adaptation of the wildly popular video game Assassin’s Creed. We were curious if there’s another game out there that might be worth adapting to the big screen — besides The Last of Us, of course. “I always thought that Red Dead Redemption would be a good movie, and I think somebody was trying to do it at some point in time,” said Cooper. “I know there’s a lot of people who are outraged that Sleeping Dogs is not “Sleeping Dogs the video game.”

But they should still check it out, regardless, to discover Cooper’s interesting new direction. From The Avenue, Sleeping Dogs is now playing in theaters.




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