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Russell Ira Crowe (born April 7, 1964 in Wellington, New Zealand)
is an Oscar-winning New Zealand-Australian film actor.
Early life and career
Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, of British, and Norwegian
and distant Maori descent. When he was four years old, his family
moved to Australia, where his parents pursued a career in filmset
catering. His maternal grandfather, Stan Wemyss, was a cinematographer
who, according to Crowe, produced the first film by New Zealander,
Geoff Murphy. The producer of the Australian TV series Spyforce
was his mother's godfather, and Crowe at age five or six was hired
for a line of dialogue in one episode, opposite series star Jack
Thompson, who years later played Crowe's father in The Sum of Us
and who coincidentally had been educated at the same school which
Crowe was to attend for two years. This was Sydney Boys High School.
When he was 14, however, Crowe's family moved back to New Zealand,
where he attended Auckland Grammar School. He did not complete secondary
school, leaving early to help his family financially. In the mid-1980's
Russell, under guidance from his good mate Tom Sharplin, performed
as a rock'n'roll revivalist, under the stage name Russ Le Roq, and
had a New Zealand single with "I wanna be Marlon Brando".
Crowe returned to Australia at age 21, intending to apply to the
National Institute of Dramatic Art. "I was working in a theater
show, and talked to a guy who was then the head of technical support
at NIDA," Crowe recalled. "I asked him what he thought
about me spending three years at NIDA. He told me it'd be a waste
of time. He said, 'You already do the things you go there to learn,
and you've been doing it for most of your life, so there's nothing
to teach you but bad habits.'" In 1987 Crowe spent a six month
stint as a busker when he couldn't find other work.
After appearing in the TV series Neighbours, Living with the Law
and The Late Show (Australian TV series) as 'Shirty' - The Slightly
Aggressive Bear, Crowe was cast in his first film, The Crossing
(1990), a small-town love triangle directed by George Ogilvie. Before
production started, a film-student protege of Ogilvie's, Steve Wallace,
hired Crowe for the film "Blood Oath," a.k.a. "Prisoners
of the Sun" (1990), which was released a month earlier, although
actually filmed later.
After initial success in Australia, Crowe began acting in American
films. He went on to become a three-time Oscar nominee, winning
the Academy Award as Best Actor in 2001 for Gladiator. Crowe wore
his grandfather Stan Wemyss's Member of the Order of the British
Empire medal to the ceremony.
Crowe received three consecutive best actor Oscar nominations for
The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. All three films were
also nominated for best picture. Within the six year stretch from
1997-2003, he also starred in two other best picture nominees, LA
Confidential and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,
though he was nominated for neither.
On March 9, 2005, Crowe revealed to GQ magazine that Federal Bureau
of Investigation agents had approached him prior to the 73rd Academy
Awards on March 25, 2001 and told him that the Islamist terrorist
group al-Qaeda wanted to kidnap him. Crowe told the magazine that
it was the first time he had ever heard of al-Qaeda (the September
11 attacks took place later that year) and was quoted as saying:
"You get this late-night call from the FBI when you arrive
in Los Angeles, and they're, like, absolutely full-on. 'Weve
got to talk to you now before you do anything. We have to have a
discussion with you, Mr. Crowe.'" Crowe recalled that "it
was something to do with some recording picked up by a French policewoman,
I think, in either Libya or Algiers...it was about taking iconographic
Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization
Crowe was guarded by Secret Service agents for the next few months,
both while shooting films and at award ceremonies (Scotland Yard
also guarded Crowe while he was promoting Proof of Life in London
in February 2001). Crowe said that he "never fully understood
what the fuck was going on." The FBI confirmed Crowe's statement
(which is uncharacteristic of the agency in that it usually does
not comment to the media).
Crowe has been involved in a number of altercations in recent years
which have given him a reputation for having a bad temper. When
part of Crowe's appearance at the 2002 British Academy of Film and
Television Arts (BAFTA) awards was cut out to fit into the BBC's
tape-delayed broadcast, Crowe accosted producer Malcolm Gerrie.
During the filming of A Beautiful Mind on the campus of Princeton
University, Crowe made an obscene gesture to Princeton student Meredith
Moroney whom he spotted photographing him, which raised a media
stir. In 1999, Crowe was involved in a scuffle at the Saloon Bar
in Coffs Harbour, Australia, which was caught by a security video.
In June 2005, Crowe was arrested and charged with second degree
assault by New York Police, in connection with an incident at the
Mercer Hotel, SoHo, New York. Crowe threw a broken telephone at
a hotel employee, and was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession
of a weapon (the telephone). Crowe, who was sentenced to conditional
release, paid about US$100,000 to settle the civil lawsuit to the
concierge, who was treated for a facial laceration. Crowe's temperament
was parodied in an episode of the cartoon South Park titled The
New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer. In this episode, Crowe is
the star of his own, fictional TV series: Russell Crowe: Fightin'
Around The World, and he travels the globe in his tug boat to fight
people of different nationalities. Crowe's temperament was also
parodied on the Australian Seven Network skit show "Big Bite"
in 2003. The Network Ten show The Secret Life of Us was parodied
on the show as The Secret Life of Russ. The "phone incident"
was parodied in Scary Movie 4 when Brenda is dreaming, one of her
lines is "Look out, Russell Crowe's got a phone!"
On other occasions, however, he has been known to show compassion.
Following the death of his friend, naturalist and television personality
Steve Irwin, Russell remarked that Irwin was "the Australian
we all aspire to be." He also recently slammed a report claiming
he was hoping to portray Irwin in a biopic about his life, stating,
"It's appalling to me and offends me very deeply. It's so awful
that I have to deal with millions of people thinking I would dance
on my friend's grave. Yes, I do think there should be a movie made
about Steve but I'm not the sort of person who will be doing commerce
on my friend's grave."
Family and general interests
On April 7, 2003, his 39th birthday, Crowe married Australian singer
and actress Danielle Spencer. Crowe met Spencer while filming "The
Crossing" (1990). Crowe also dated American actress Meg Ryan
after they had an admitted affair while filming Proof of Life (2000)
and in the past, he was been linked to Erica Baxter, Peta Wilson
and Courtney Love.
Crowe and Spencer's first son, Charles Spencer Crowe, was born
on December 21, 2003. In January 2006, Crowe announced they were
expecting their second child, and in March, Crowe announced on The
Tonight Show that they were expecting a boy. Their second son, Tennyson
Spencer Crowe, was born on July 7, 2006. Two of Russell Crowe's
cousins, Martin and Jeff Crowe are former New Zealand national cricket
Most of the year, Crowe resides in Australia at both his Sydney
home in Woolloomooloo and his 320 hectare rural property in Nana
Glen near Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, but he is renting a house
for Summer 2006 in Nyack, New York while he works on a movie being
shot in New York City.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
On 19 March, 2006, the voting members of the South Sydney Rabbitohs
National Rugby League club voted (in a 75.8% majority) to allow
Crowe and businessman Peter Holmes à Court to purchase 75%
of the club, leaving 25% ownership with the members. It will cost
them (AUD) $3 million, and they will receive four of eight seats
on the board of directors.
Crowe has been a major supporter of the Rabbitohs rugby league
team for many years, appearing at many home games, and supporting
the club during its time when they were forced from the National
Rugby League competition for two years. Crowe paid $40,000 for a
brass bell used to open the first rugby league competition match
in Australia in 1908, which he then returned to the club. In 2005,
he made them the first club team in Australia to be sponsored by
a film, when he negotiated a deal to advertise his movie Cinderella
Man on their jerseys.
He is friends with many current and former players of the club,
and currently employs former South Sydney forward Mark Caroll as
a bodyguard and personal trainer. He has encouraged other actors
to support the club, such as Tom Cruise and Burt Reynolds. Business
and television personality Eddie McGuire has been offered a seat
on the Rabbitohs board.
Crowe's early stage name as a musician was "Rus Le Roq"
and he was billed as such while performing with the New Zealand
production of Rocky Horror. Crowe performed lead vocals and guitar
for an Australian pub rock band, 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts formed in
1992. The band had found neither critical nor popular success but
had several releases including 1998's Gaslight, 2001's Bastard Life
or Clarity and 2003's Other Ways of Speaking, plus various CD releases
now out of print. The band's web site indicates that group has "dissolved/evolved"
and states that Crowe's music would take a new direction.
He continued with a collaboration with Alan Doyle of the Canadian
band Great Big Sea in early 2005, which also involved members of
his previous band. A new single, Raewyn, was released in April 2005
and an album entitled My Hand, My Heart has been released for download
on iTunes. The album includes a tribute song to the late actor,
Richard Harris, who became Crowe's friend during the making of Gladiator.
In 2002, he directed the music video clip (which starred former
child actor Duy Nguyen) for his wife Danielle Spencer's single 'Tickle
Me' from her 'White Monkey' album. On March 10, 2006, Russell Crowe
performed with his new band The Ordinary Fear of God on The Tonight
Show with Jay Leno.
Neighbours (TV Show) (1987)
The Crossing (1990)
Prisoners of the Sun (1990)
Hammers Over the Anvil (1991)
The Efficiency Expert (1992)
Romper Stomper (1992)
For the Moment (1993)
Love in Limbo (1993)
The Silver Stallion: King of the Wild Brumbies (1993)
The Sum of Us (1994)
The Quick and the Dead (1995)
No Way Back (1995)
Rough Magic (1995)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Heaven's Burning (1997)
Breaking Up (1997)
Mystery, Alaska (1999)
The Insider (1999)
Proof of Life (2000)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Texas (2002) (documentary) (also director and producer)
60 Odd Hours in Italy (2002) (short subject) (also director)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Cinderella Man (2005)
A Good Year (2006)
American Gangster (2007)
3:10 To Yuma (2007)
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