Academy award-winning actor Russell Crowe said people should be questioning why countries are still engaged in armed conflict within the Middle East 100 years after the split of the Ottoman Empire.
Crowe was in Washington for the premiere of Water Diviner, a film that takes place in the aftermath of World War I. Crowe directed the film and plays an Australian farmer whose sons fight in the war. He was asked if the film changed his opinion about current issues related to war.
“It’s definitely solidified what’s at the core of my opinions and sometimes you talk about this sort of stuff and people will say to you, ‘but isn’t there, every now and then, the right reasons for war?’ And my response is, ‘shouldn’t we have a different question by now?’ You would think years later that people would be more surprised that we’re still involved in armed conflict in exactly the same area of the world that this film is talking about from 100 years ago. I mean, Iran, Syria, Iraq – these are all countries that were formed after the split up of the Ottoman Empire in 1919,” Crowe told PJM on the red carpet at the Navy Memorial.
“We have this circular thing that happens where a minute ago the leader of Syria was a bad chap and now he’s needing assistance apparently so you know, he’s going to be on the same side. Very circular and strangle level of politics we’ve gotten into in the Middle East,” he added.
Crowe’s home country of Australia is currently involved in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan as well as the airstrikes against ISIS.
Crowe was asked what he would like members of Congress to take away from the film.
“Stepping away from the political side, the great thing about this film is it makes parents, particularly fathers, examine their position in this sort of situation and really focus on the difference between the theory and if it’s your child,” he said.
In the movie, Crowe’s character travels to Turkey to find his three sons that have not returned from battle. The film has already won 3 Australian Academy Awards. Crowe, who moved to Australia from New Zealand in 1968 when he was 4 years old, was denied Australian citizenship.
“For a long time there weren’t any requirements. You just go and fill out a form and become an Australian citizen and I started getting busy and started traveling and lived a lot of the time away from Australia from about the early ’90s. Then I got married to an Australian woman. I had two children and I thought I better go and get that changed,” he told PJ Media. “If I’m traveling somewhere exotic with my kids and something goes wrong then we only have to go to one embassy, not two, so it was sort of practical and I also wanted them to grow up knowing of me as an Australian.”
However, Crowe said the country has changed its immigration laws for New Zealanders.
“If you weren’t in the country for 10 months, in the year of 2000, 2001 and 2002, then you can’t automatically become a citizen. Now in those years if you think about it, that’s the years between The Insider, Gladiator, Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander, that’s the years I got nominated by the Academy three times in a row,” he said.
“It’s a little bureaucratic problem at the moment but I keep pushing at it. I’ve been offered a nudge and wink kind of thing if I just shut up but there’s 250,000 other New Zealanders that have made their life in Australia, they have kids that they want to take through university and they’re in a terrible situation because even though they pay tax, they have no right to medical assistance if they get in trouble.”
Crowe, who is not a U.S. citizen, was asked to compare his experience with the immigration process in the U.S. to Australia.
“I’ve been told that if I wanted to get citizenship in America I could get that done. I‘ve worked here over a long period of time now and I have a lot of people that I have been in business with very successfully – but my kids are in Australia, man, and that’s where I’ve got to be,” he said.
Water Diviner opens in theaters on April 24.