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Biography of Russell Crowe
Article added in June 2000 and updated on September 24, 2002
Born in a suburb of Wellington (New Zealand) in 1964, Russell Crowe, at the age of 6, when he had moved to Australia with his family, got his first part on the small screen in the Australian TV show Spyforce. Both his parents were movie- and TV-caterers. His mother, Jocelyn Crowe, worked as a caterer on the set of Spyforce and his godfather directed it. Russell's maternal grandfather, Stan Wemyss, was an award-winning director during the Second World War. Russell Crowe is one-sixteenth Maori, his maternal grandfather's mother was Maori, and he is registered on the Maori voting poll in New Zealand. But he feels like an Australian, not a New Zealander. He calls himself a "happy-go-lucky"-type, but also has the persistent character of the New Zealanders. By the way, his cousins are famous cricket players in New Zealand.
At the age of 12, Russell appeared in the series The Young Doctors that ran from 1976 to 1981. At 14, Crowe returned to New Zealand to finish high school. When he was 16, he formed the band Roman Antix and he recorded several songs under the name of Russ Le Roq. About this period, Russell Crowe said that he made "two or three of the worst recordings in the history of the New Zealand music industry". After high school, he worked as a waiter and entertainment manager (or bingo caller). Later he got parts in stage productions of Grease (1983) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In his early 20s, Russell Crowe toured first with The Rocky Horror Picture Show in New Zealand, then in Australia. All in all, he did over 400 performances of the show from 1986 to 1988. He also was on stage in Blood Brothers and in the Official Tribute to the Blues Brothers (1993). In the early 1990s he appeared again on TV in the series Police Rescue. Crowe also worked as a waiter and street performer in Kings Cross in Sydney.
Russell Crowe got his first film part in the 1990-film Blood Oath, also known as Prisoners of the Sun. His breakthrough came at 25 as Johnny Ryan in The Crossing (1990). With his role in Proof (1991), he won The Australian Film Institute's Award for Best Supporting Actor. A year later came the Best Actor award for his performance in Romper Stomper, a film which broke all Australian box office records. Russell Crowe shone as a hate-filled skinhead, Hando, the charismatic leader of a racist gang who attacked Vietnamese immigrants pouring into Melbourne. The film was a huge success, not only for the intensity with which Russell Crowe and other actors filled their roles, but also because the theme was topical at the time. In the late 1980s, on a trip Down Under, I encountered rage and hatred against Asian immigrants. Although my friends were no neo-nazis and did not live on the fringes of Australian society, they clearly had racist ideas. In Romper Stomper, Hando's gang breaks up when the Vietnamese start fighting back. Together with his friend Davey (Daniel Pollock), Hando meets a young woman from a rich family, Gabe (Jacqueline McKenzie), and the racist duo becomes a love triangle. The film encountered criticism for the violence displayed and the lack of a clear moral position and writer-director Geoffrey Wright's partly sympathetic portrait of some of the gang members. Two years after Romper Stumper, Russell Crowe played a gay plumber in The Sum of Us. A shock for some of the Romper Stomper-fans.
Romper Stomper,1991. Cast: Russell Crowe (Hando), Jacqueline McKenzie (Gabe), Daniel Pollock (Davey), Alex Scott (Martin), Leigh Russell (Sonny Jim). Directed by Geoffrey Wright. Awards won by Russell Crowe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role/Australian Film Institute. Australian Star of the Year/Australian Motion Picture Exhibitors Association Convention. Best Actor/Film Critics' Circle of Australia. Golden Space Needles Best Actor Award/Seattle Film Festival.
Romper Stomper brought Russell Crowe Hollywood's attention and a first role in an American movie. Sharon Stone wanted him for The Quick and the Dead (1995). She not only called him "the sexiest guy working in movies" but wanted him so desperately that she delayed the start of production so he could finish The Sum of Us (1994). Around that time Russel Crowe broke up with his Australian girlfriend since five years, actress Danielle Spencer. Romper Stomper also impressed director Curtis Hanson who took him for the role of the police officer Bud White in L. A. Confidential, another highlight in Russell Crowe's career.
In 1999, Russell Crowe starred in Michael Mann's The Insider next to Al Pacino. In this film based on a true story, he plays 53-year-old Jeffrey Wigand, the former tobacco executive who started the fight against the American tobacco industry and, on the way, lost his family, home and faith in the system and in others. He was the key witness in a lawsuit against the tobacco industry which was settled in 1995 and cost the companies $246 million. During the film, Crowe gained more than 20 kg. Through the dramatic changes in his physical appearance, he makes his character real. By the way, Russell Crowe is a chain smoker and admits the irony of playing a man fighting the tobacco industry, but sees it as a confirmation of the strong addiction tobacco creates.
In contrast to his role as an old and fat man in the Insider, Russell Crowe played John Biebe in Mystery Alaska (1999), the aging captain of the ice-hockey team in a town with 633 people which gets the chance to play the New York Rangers. For the film, he had to learn to skate! And in his current film, Gladiator (2000), Russell Crowe stars as a young and virile Roman General. The release of the romantic comedy with Meg Ryan, Proof of Life, is scheduled for Christmas 2000.
As John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe delivered another outstanding performance and was nominated for an Academy Award. But he was denied the second Oscar for Best Actor. The film received four Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards Ceremony on March 24, 2002: Ron Howard for Best Director, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard for Best Picture, Akiva Goldsman for the Best Adapted Writing and Jennifer Connelly as Best Supporting Actress.
Russell Crowe lives on a farm, several hours north of Sydney, with his parents, his older brother and horses, cows, dogs, chickens, turtles, snakes and other animals. He has "a reputation for bluntness and a volatile temper" (TV Week, Australia).

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Filmography : films with Russell Crowe

A Beautiful Mind, 2002. Get it on DVD from, Amazon Canada,,, film review. - Order DVDs with Russell Crowe from

Proof of Life (2000). Get it on DVD from,

Gladiator (2000), review article. Get the DVD from,,,

The Insider (1999), review article. Get it on DVD from,,
Mystery Alaska (1999). Get it on DVD from

L.A. Confidential (1997), review article. Get it on DVD from,,,
Heaven's Burning (1997). Get it on DVD from or

Breaking Up (1997). Get it on VHS from
No Way Back (1996). Get it on DVD from
Rough Magic (1995)
Virtuosity (1995). Get it on DVD from
The Quick And The Dead (1995). Get it on DVD from or from
Sum of Us (1994)
Love in Limbo (1993)
Silver Brumby (1993)

Romper Stomper (1992). Get it on VHS from; get it on DVD from or
For The Moment (1992)
Proof (1991)
Hammers over the Anvil (1991). Get it on DVD from
Spotswood (1991)
Brides of Christ (1991)
The Crossing (1990)
Blood Oath aka Prisoners of the Sun (1990)

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