On Sunday April 16, 2017 we lost a wonderful man who impacted my life so profoundly: Joseph Crowley, the survivor of clergy abuse who I portrayed in the film "Spotlight." Joe was wildly funny, a great storyteller and a truly kind & gentle soul. Those close to him called him "Princess," a nickname he proudly accepted. He was a strong man, a resilient man. He bravely spoke about his abuse in order to help others, and never spent a moment feeling sorry for himself. His sense of humor was wicked and sharp, and he told me that during all the ups and downs he knew he was truly in trouble if he couldn't laugh. And laugh he did, often and heartily. I've never met anyone who could talk longer and with more enthusiasm about character actress Sylvia Myles. He didn't have a thick Boston accent, but it came out when he said "Ann-Margret", which he said VERY often. My first contact with Joe was a voicemail, "Hi Joe. This is Michael Cyril Creighton. I'm playing you in Spotlight. I also hear you have a strong admiration for Margo Martindale. So, obviously we've got a lot to talk about." A day later, I spoke to him for 2 hours on the phone, but only for a few minutes about Margo. The first thing he told me was "I had always hoped Geena Davis would play me in the film of my life, but you will do" and then laughed. Classic Joe Crowley. About a week later I spent 5 hours with him at a coffee shop in Boston. I was asking tough questions and was very nervous, and he was so generous with his time and his answers. Without Joe's willingness to share his story with me, I would have never been able to do the role justice. His openness informed my performance in ways I can't even fully articulate. I am so thankful for that. And him. Little did I know after that first phone call that we'd be constantly in touch via text/phone/email for the next 2 years. Joe Crowely wasn't just research for me, he became a friend. He started calling me "JC2" (For Joe Crowley 2). When I saw JC1 a couple of months ago in Boston, he seemed at peace. He was happy and settled and full of joy. He constantly texted me with ideas for the plot of "Spotlight 2: The Joe Crowley Story" or whenever there was a great movie on Lifetime. I'll miss those texts and phone calls. I'm so honored and lucky to have been able to help tell his story in Spotlight, but the real gift was getting to know him. He was a very special person. My only hope is he passed watching his favorite Ann-Margret movie, with a big smile on his face. It is very Joe to pass on Easter. The Princess won't be upstaged. Rest in Peace, JC1.
Please take a moment to read his beautiful obituary, here:
And this gorgeous piece about knowing him, written by Spotlight reporter Sacha Pfeiffer: