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
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
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
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
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
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.com,
Order DVDs with Russell Crowe from
Proof of Life (2000). Get it on DVD from Amazon.com,
Gladiator (2000), review article.
Get the DVD from Amazon.com,
The Insider (1999), review
article. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com,
Mystery Alaska (1999). Get it on DVD from Amazon.com.
L.A. Confidential (1997), review
article. Get it on DVD from
Heaven's Burning (1997). Get it on DVD from Amazon.com or Amazon.de.
Breaking Up (1997). Get it on VHS from Amazon.com.
No Way Back (1996). Get it on DVD from Amazon.com.
Rough Magic (1995)
Virtuosity (1995). Get it on DVD from Amazon.com.
The Quick And The Dead (1995). Get it on DVD from Amazon.com or from Amazon.co.uk.
Sum of Us (1994)
Love in Limbo (1993)
Silver Brumby (1993)
Romper Stomper (1992). Get it on VHS from Amazon.com;
get it on DVD from Amazon.com
For The Moment (1992)
Hammers over the Anvil (1991). Get it on DVD from Amazon.com.
Brides of Christ (1991)
The Crossing (1990)
Blood Oath aka Prisoners of the Sun (1990)
Check also the articles by Askmen.com
on Russell Crowe.
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