Closer Weekly

A look back at Gladiator star Russell Crowe’s action-packed Hollywood career.


HE GARNERED a reputation in Hollywood as a bad boy, but growing up in New Zealand and Australia, Russell Ira Crowe always felt he had a good sense of himself. “I knew I was a performer, even though I was very shy,” he recalled. “I was as optimistic as anybody could be.” And, from a small part on the Aussie TV show Spyforce as a young child to a blockbuste­r like Gladiator decades later, he’s always displayed a stubborn single-minded nature — even if it got him labeled as “difficult” on-set and brought him occasional trouble with the law. “People accuse me of being arrogant; [but] I’m not, I’m focused,” explained Russell, who turns 53 on April 7. “The important thing is that I’m not driven by praise [or] slowed down by criticism. I’m just trying to work at the highest level I can.”


From sports to music, Russell found many interests to explore during his childhood. “Lots of things didn’t turn out the way I wanted when I was a younger fella, but I didn’t lose that thirst to understand what I could do well.”


His role as a skinhead in Romper Stomper got attention, and not always in a good way. “I got [stopped] by the police all the time [because of the look],” said Russell, who read up on fascism as research. “[That] tends to put you in the frame of mind for being a psycho.”


He said Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts, the band he formed with his Aussie buds, was named after a length of film he was asked to dub in his 1995 thriller Virtuosity. “I enjoy expressing myself within a pop song, and I don’t do it to seek anybody’s approval, necessaril­y.”


Playing a police officer in L.A. Confidenti­al (with Guy Pearce) brought up mixed feelings. “I first saw Bud as immoral, abusing his badge for his own means,” he said. “But when I got to know him more, I began to see Bud as a very moral man, a man who will fight and die for the people he believes in — and that doesn’t happen very often these days.”


“I had a great relationsh­ip with Al [Pacino]” while filming director Michael Mann’s The Insider, which earned him the first of three Oscar nomination­s. “He was very generous with me…and funny!”


Filming the action drama Proof of Life had its share of thrills, but none as big as Russell’s reported affair with his married co-star Meg Ryan. “I grieve the loss of her companions­hip, but I’ve not lost the friendship,” he later said. “That was what our connection was about.”

7 2000 WHEN IN ROME…

“We went into [it] without a completed script,” he said of his Oscar-winning role in Gladiator. “It was a by-theseat-of-the-pants thing, and an incredible ride.”

8 2001 MIND-SET

“If there’s anything about someone’s life that’s important enough to make a movie about, I have to get all of it right,” he said of playing troubled genius John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.

9 2012 LES IS MORE

Russell played bad guy Javert in Les Misérables. “I like villains because there’s something so attractive about a committed person — they have a plan, an ideology, no matter how twisted. They’re motivated.”

Alas, so were critics when they trashed his singing.

10 2015 NO RESPECT

Russell loves hanging out with sons Tennyson, 10, and Charles, 13 (with ex Danielle Spencer), but “my children have never watched any of my films,” he said. “Charlie says they aren’t good enough for him.”

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— Russell
“You’re only here for a short time, mate. Learn to like it.” — Russell
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