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'American Gangster' to feature team work of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe

The new crime drama of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe "American Gangster" shows their team work.

"It's not about a heavyweight fight," Crowe said in an interview with AP Television News. "What it is, is much more like two (guitarists) playing together, two people singing together."

"American Gangster" is based on the life of Frank Lucas, played by Washington, who became filthy rich in the 1960s by smuggling heroin into New York.

Crowe portrays a police officer who investigates Lucas and his dirty dealings.

"... If you can blend, if you can harmonize and you can sing together still from two completely separate points of view, now you are talking," said Crowe, 43, who won an Academy Award in 2001 for "Gladiator." He also received Oscar nominations for his roles in "The Insider" and "A Beautiful Mind."

Washington said he felt less pressure to perfect his role in "American Gangster" than he did for 1992's "Malcolm X" because the real-life Lucas put him at ease.

"In `Malcolm X,' we were under a lot of pressure," he said. "There were a lot of folks showing up, like, `You better get this right or it could cost you.' ... One might have expected it to be the case in this film. That wasn't the case with Frank. He was real cool."

Washington won Academy Awards for "Glory" and "Training Day," and received Oscar nominations for "Malcolm X," "The Hurricane" and "Cry Freedom."

The 52-year-old actor said he's trying to ignore the early Oscar buzz surrounding "American Gangster," directed by Ridley Scott, which has been getting positive reviews from critics.

"We don't even hear about it until you sit down and do interviews," he said. "First of all, the film hasn't even come out yet. Let the film come out and let the public decide how they feel about it."

"American Gangster," a Universal Pictures release, opens Friday.