Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 11:30 UK

Ridley and Russell: A match made in movie heaven?

Russell Crowe and Sir Ridley Scott
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott began their working relationship in 2000

Sir Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, which has been selected to open this year's Cannes Film Festival, marks the fifth collaboration between the British director and New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe.

The movie, which also stars Cate Blanchett and William Hurt, has undergone many changes since the project was first announced.

Roles were swapped, casting shifted, scripts completely rewritten and even the name of the film has changed.

Nevertheless, ever since Sir Ridley and Crowe made the Oscar-winning film Gladiator in 2000, expectation has been high for all the movies they have made together.

Sir Ridley, who only started making films at the age of 40, quickly built up a strong reputation within the industry after making cult classics such as Thelma and Louise and Alien.

Gladiator saw Crowe play Maximus, a Roman general seeking revenge for the unlawful murder of his family.

If there's any director I know who deserves an Oscar, it's Ridley Scott
Russell Crowe

It was a massive success and took more than $457m (£295m) worldwide.

Nominated for 12 Oscars, Crowe walked away with the best actor prize and it won a further four Oscars - including best picture.

Unfortunately for Sir Ridley, who had been up for best director, he lost out to Steven Soderbergh for Traffic.

In fact, the film-maker is still to get his hands on the most coveted trophy in film, despite three nominations.

It was not until 2006 that the pair teamed up again for A Good Year.

The romantic comedy - a stark contrast to Gladiator - failed to make as big an impact at the box office than the "sword and sandals" epic.

'Visual artists'

It took a disappointing $42m (£27m) worldwide and Sir Ridley was criticised for making a rom-com with Empire magazine calling it the "comedy experiment" that had "not entirely worked".

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper in 2007, Sir Ridley insisted, despite the reviews, he had no regrets about the picture.

"We had some fun on A Good Year, and even though we got beaten up for it, I still think it's a good movie and I think Russell was excellent in it.

Russell Crowe
Crowe won an Academy Award for Gladiator

"He's one of the best, and we seem to know exactly what to do without much exchange now. The waltz is over. The waltz was on Gladiator. We've got the measure of each other now."

Less than a year later the film-making pair got together again to make crime drama American Gangster, which also starred Denzel Washington and Josh Brolin.

The movie told the true story of former heroin dealer and organised crime boss Frank Lucas.

In an interview promoting the film with BBC News, Crowe paid tribute to his director friend, saying he hoped the film would finally win him an Academy Award.

"If there's any director I know who deserves an Oscar, it's Ridley Scott," he said.

"He is one of the greatest visual artists of our time and deserving of any honour that comes his way."

Indeed, it went on to be nominated for two Oscars (best art direction and best supporting actress for Ruby Dee), but Sir Ridley failed to appear in the directors category.

However, the movie was greeted with a little more enthusiasm by critics than his last, with Total Film calling it "Scott's best film since Gladiator".

'Sensationally implausible'

At the time Crowe also spoke out about his working relationship with the director.

"We knew when we did Gladiator that we communicated really well, and that gets stronger each time we work together," he said.

Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett stars as Maid Marion in Robin Hood

"He has no problem throwing responsibility my way, and I enjoy that. I feel privileged that he wants to work with me."

In 2008, Body Of Lies, a thriller about terrorism and Middle East politics, was released.

Crowe gained nearly three stone for his role as Ed Hoffman, a cynical CIA veteran, starring opposite Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio.

Before it was released, the actor said he did not expect the film to be popular because of its exploration into the US government and foreign policy.

In some ways he was right, as the film was met with very mixed reviews.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "Body of Lies contains enough you can believe, or almost believe, that you wish so much of it weren't sensationally implausible."

Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times concluded that the movie was "always crisp and watchable", adding, "but as the film's episodic story gradually reveals itself, it ends up too unconvincing and conventional to consistently hold our attention".

It was beaten to the top of the US box office in its opening week by family movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

Two years later and Sir Ridley is about to release his fifth film made with Crowe, treading the well-worn path of the Robin Hood story.

Having been given the important role of opening the Cannes Film Festival, critics and fans everywhere will be poised to see if the duo have finally managed to recreate the massive success they had with Gladiator.

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