Australian superstar Russell Crowe says he leapt at the opportunity to play a guest role on CBC's Republic of Doyle, in part so he could trigger a reunion fitting for Robin Hood.
Crowe is shooting an episode of the comic crime drama in St. John's this week, in part as a nod to creator Allan Hawco and on the suggestion of his friend Alan Doyle, the singer of Great Big Sea.
"I've just been watching his success and his dedication to what he does," Crowe told CBC News, describing how he first met Hawco — the actor-writer who helped create the show and plays its scruffy protagonist, private detective Jake Doyle — in Toronto in 2004.
Republic of Doyle creator Allan Hawco says bringing together the Robin Hood cast took a great deal of planning. Republic of Doyle creator Allan Hawco says bringing together the Robin Hood cast took a great deal of planning. (CBC)
Cast of Republic of Doyle
"I think Hawco then was on the bones of his ass, doing Shakespeare in the park or something like that."
Crowe is appearing in a Republic of Doyle episode with Doyle, who is reprising a role from last year as a convict, and actors Scott Grimes and Kevin Durand. The latter three played the Merry Men to Crowe's title role in the 2010 Ridley Scott blockbuster Robin Hood.
"Alan [said], 'do you think it would be funny if we got the Robin Hood guys together and we did this in Newfoundland?'" Crowe said.
"It's taken some time and a massive amount of organization but here we are, and we're doing it."
Crowe will also play with Doyle and the others at two concerts to raise money for the LSPU Hall, a venerable small theatre in downtown St. John's.
New album released Tuesday
On Tuesday, the pair released an album — The Crowe/Doyle Songbook Vol. 3 — on iTunes. It is also being released this week on other digital platforms. The songs have been recorded over various periods, including while Robin Hood was being shot.
Alan Doyle is performing with Crowe and others this week at two concerts at a St. John's theatre. Alan Doyle is performing with Crowe and others this week at two concerts at a St. John's theatre. (CBC)
Crowe would not reveal much about his character on the show.
"I got to keep it secret, except that I do get thrown in the back of the GTO, in the trunk, locked in and driven off by Jake," he said.
Hawco told CBC News that a fair bit of planning went into the episode, not to mention some crossed fingers.
"We've been talking about it for a long time, [but] until they really all got here, I didn't want to count my chickens," said Hawco, who has had a long-running friendship with Doyle.
Asked if the reunited Robin Hood stars play criminals, Hawco smiled and said, "Well, they don't rob from the rich and give to the poor."
'Any excuse' to get together
Doyle, who has been hosting his friends about the city, said the opportunity to act and sing together was too great to resist.
"We had some great times during the Robin Hood movie," he said. "We just wanted to find any excuse so we could get us all together again, under one roof."
Crowe, who arrived with his family on Friday, has been exploring the city, including walking with his son through a fog-enshrouded Signal Hill this weekend.
"I just really like this place. I just like the people here, the vibe of it, and every street — because it's new to me — holds something fascinating to me," Crowe said.
Russell Crowe was in Newfoundland once before in 2005. He performed at a local bar and the place was packed. Tickets for the shows this year sold out in under 30 minutes.