Russell Crowe biography

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Russell Crowe biography

Actor. Born April 7, 1964, in Wellington, New Zealand. His family moved to Sydney, Australia, when Crowe was four years old. He spent a good deal of time on the sets of various film and television productions, where his parents worked as caterers; at age six, Crowe was cast as an orphan in the TV series Spyforce, the first of his many small parts as a child actor. His family returned to New Zealand in 1978, and Crowe began performing as a rock singer, billing himself as Rus le Roc and recording the prophetically titled 1980 single “I Want to Be Like Marlon Brando.” During this period, he and a friend formed Roman Antix, which later evolved into 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, a rock band for which Crowe still sings, plays guitar, and writes lyrics.
He returned to Australia in the early 1980s to pursue his acting career, winning a role in a production of the musical Grease in 1983. From 1986 to 1988, Crowe starred in a touring production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. A role in the stage musical Blood Brothers in 1989 led to his first feature film, Blood Oath (1990, released in the U.S. as Prisoners of the Sun). His other early films included The Crossing (1990), which marked his first leading role, and The Efficiency Expert (1991, released in the U.S. as Spotswood), with Anthony Hopkins and Toni Collette. His breakthrough roles showcased two very different sides of Crowe—in 1992’s Proof, he played a gentle, gullible dishwasher, earning an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor; he won the Best Actor statue the next year, for his turn as a brutal Nazi skinhead in the controversial film Romper Stomper. His next and equally iconoclastic role was as a gay plumber living with his widowed father in The Sum of Us (1994). In 1995, Crowe made his American film debut, appearing with Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, and Leonardo DiCaprio in the offbeat Western The Quick and the Dead, which met with a mediocre critical and popular reception. That same year, he played SID 6.7, a virtual reality outlaw created as a composite of more than 150 serial killers (SID stands for Sadistic, Intelligent, and Dangerous) who is hunted by Denzel Washington in the poorly rated sci-fi thriller Virtuosity. He also played the romantic leads in the little-seen films Rough Magic (1995), opposite Bridget Fonda, and Breaking Up (1997), opposite Salma Hayek.

Though many insiders pegged him as “one to watch,” no one in America really paid attention to Crowe until L.A.

Confidential, the highly acclaimed 1997 neo-noir film that probed the dark underside of Los Angeles in the 1950s. Crowe played the brutal, forthright cop Bud White, one of a trio of very different policemen—the film also starred Kevin Spacey and fellow Australian Guy Pearce—who stumble upon a twisted and murderous conspiracy. Crowe’s simmering performance (including steamy love scenes with co-star Kim Basinger) earned him rave reviews and a certain measure of recognition among American moviegoers.

Crowe’s first starring role of 1999 came in Mystery, Alaska, a poorly received comedy written by David E. Kelley and co-starring Burt Reynolds. He had a good deal more success with his next film, The Insider, based on the true story of an ex-tobacco company executive, Jeffrey Wigand, who is convinced by a TV news producer to blow the whistle on the powerful tobacco industry. Despite mediocre box office, The Insider, which was directed by Michael Mann and also starred Al Pacino, garnered a huge amount of critical praise—including Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. Crowe’s intense, Oscar-nominated performance as the reluctant Wigand was arguably the most remarkable aspect of the film; the actor gained 35 pounds for the role and was nearly unrecognizable in a thinning gray wig.

In 2000, Crowe vaulted to A-list Hollywood stardom with his charismatic performance as a Roman general-turned-vengeful slave in Gladiator, the ambitious Roman epic and blockbuster summer hit directed by Ridley Scott and costarring Joaquin Phoenix. The film garnered 12 Academy Award nominations, including a second straight Best Actor nod for Crowe. On Oscar night in March 2001, Crowe beat out Hollywood stalwart Tom Hanks, among others, to take home the Oscar. Gladiator won in five categories, including the night's biggest honor, Best Picture.

Also in 2000, Crowe starred in the romance/adventure Proof of Life, as a hostage negotiator who becomes romantically entangled with his client, played by Meg Ryan, after her husband is kidnapped. (The film, like The Insider, was based on an article published in Vanity Fair.)

Widespread rumors about Crowe’s brash personality have only increased with his growing fame. In late 1999, he was reportedly involved in a brawl outside a bar in New South Wales, Australia. The owner of the bar, who claimed to have a security videotape that showed the actor had initiated the brawl, was subsequently charged, along with another man, with blackmail after allegedly attempting to extort money from Crowe in exchange for the video.

Crowe's “bad boy” reputation and smoldering on-screen intensity have inspired comparisons to the young Brando. Although he is reportedly intense and demanding while working on set, a number of co-stars have publicly praised him for his charming, professional demeanor.

Crowe made even more headlines during the summer of 2000, after the huge success of Gladiator, when he became romantically involved with his Proof of Life costar, Meg Ryan, and was mentioned as a factor in her separation from her husband of nine years, actor Dennis Quaid. Quaid filed for divorce in July 2000. Crowe and Ryan split in late December of that year.

On the more bizarre side, news broke in the spring of 2001 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had launched an investigation into a rumored plot to kidnap Crowe. He attended the January Golden Globes ceremony flanked by FBI agents in tuxedos, was guarded by Scotland Yard at the London premiere of Proof of Life in February, and reportedly increased his own personal security force as well.

In 2001, Crowe starred in A Beautiful Mind, an acclaimed biopic about the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash. The film, directed by Ron Howard, costarred Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly. For the third year in a row, Crowe's bravura performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. When not on location, Crowe lives on a 600-acre cattle farm outside of Sydney.

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