Cameron Crowe: A Positive Spin on Life

In his work and life, the creator of 'Jerry Maguire,' 'Say Anything,' and 'Elizabethtown' celebrates 'the goodness in people.'

In movies such as "Jerry Maguire," "Almost Famous," and "Say Anything," Cameron Crowe explored the decisions and events that define a person's character-often mining his own life for material, and always doing so with an unbeatable soundtrack. His newest film, "Elizabethtown," is no exception. It is based partly on his own reaction to the death of his father, and includes music from Tom Petty, Elton John, and Nancy Wilson (Crowe's wife). In the film, industrial designer Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom), already despondent over a professional failure, copes with the sudden death of his father. En route to his father's memorial in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a flight attendant who helps him put his life back on track.

Crowe spoke with Beliefnet about his undying optimism, the role of Catholicism in his life, and the spirituality of music.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, you described yourself as a "warrior for optimism."

On my better days.

That's a wonderful phrase. Can you expand on it and tell me what you meant by it?


I think it's an often cynical world and there's a fascination with darkness in a lot of media. And "Elizabethtown"-and in varying degrees other stuff that I've done-is about the hero that finds a way in modern life to fight for hope and belief in the best that's in all of us. And I think that's a real hero. Elizabethtown certainly is a movie with positivity at its core. Some people go, "How realistic is that?" Well, there are a million movies that aren't about that, and this one is.

These days, it seems like we're in need of a good shot of optimism.

Or at least a sense of community. We all have a pretty deep family root system that we rarely take advantage of or feel the presence of except in times of strife. The one thing that I found from screening the movie is that people afterwards, and this is a little bit true of "Jerry Maguire" too, people afterwards say, "You know what? I feel a little bit inspired about being alive right now. And you know what? I'm going to cancel this trip I had going this weekend and I'm going to go visit my mom, or I'm going to go call my dad." It's cool when a movie affects people in that way. It runs a little deeper than, "Yeah, it was cute. Where are we having dinner?" [laughs]

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