Russell Ira Crowe was born April 7, 1964,
in Wellington, New Zealand, to parents Jocelyn and Alex Crowe. Young Russell
was raised in Sydney, Australia after his family relocated down-under when
he was four years old.
Since his parents were set caterers and
his father was a hotel manager, the Crowe family led a rather nomadic life,
the reason for which Crowe only lived in his first actual house at the
age of fourteen. Acquiring a taste for acting when he served as a child
extra while accompanying his parents to work, the high school dropout was
more passionate about performing as a musician rather than an actor.
While he had several acting credits under
his belt, 16-year-old Crowe dubbed himself Russ Le Roc -- of the rock group
Roman Antix, that is -- and performed in order to supplement his income.
Working as a bartender, waiter and bingo-number caller wasn't enough to
pay the bills, so playing music served as an additional source of income.
"I Want To Be Like Marlon Brando" was the
title of the 1980 single Russ Le Roc recorded as a solo artist (before
forming Roman Antix), which eventually became 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts. With
former acting experience, the singer, songwriter and guitarist returned
to acting -- never giving up his musical career.
At the age of 25, Crowe was cast in his
first feature film role, as Lieutenant Corbett in Prisoners of the Sun,
otherwise known as Blood Oath. But his big break came in 1991, with his
award-winning performance (Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting
Actor) in Proof.
That was only the beginning of his critically
acclaimed career, as he followed up his role in 1993's Romper Stomper,
as a Nazi skinhead. With another Australian Film Institute Award, this
time for Best Actor, to add to his mantle, Crowe starred as a homosexual
man in 1994's The Sum of Us.
But Crowe's success was, at this point,
only limited to the land of kangaroos and koalas, until a certain Sharon
Stone caught his Romper Stomper performance and was convinced that he was
the perfect fit for her film The Quick and the Dead. Crowe was the only
positive part of the film, which stayed true to its name and died quickly
at the box-office.
But it was all good for Crowe, who was
becoming recognized in the United States. That year, he co-starred with
Denzel Washington, in 1995's Virtuosity, as a serial killer. Although the
movie was nothing to write Australia about, Crowe's career was beginning
to soar to new heights.
He finally broke through in acting circles
everywhere as the no-nonsense cop and Kim Basinger's lover in 1997's L.A.
Confidential. Although he was snubbed at the Oscars, Crowe was being toted
as the new "it" boy of Hollywood, despite Leo's claims of being "king of
the world" that same year.
In 1999, Crowe's portrayal of real-life
whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand in the drama The Insider earned the actor
rave reviews, as well as a Best Actor Oscar nomination. As Roman general
Maximus in the blockbuster epic, Gladiator, Russell Crowe showed moviegoers
and critics alike that he was unstoppable in the Roman arena, and in Hollywood,
with his Oscar for Best Actor in a Motion Picture in 2001.
His Maximus role also garnered him Best
Actor awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, San Diego Film
Critics, and Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association.
Although Crowe has been compared to legendary
greats James Dean, Marlon Brando and Robert Mitchum, he refuses to give
in to the Hollywood scene. The only way one can say that he has succumbed
to it though, is having been romantically linked to Hollywood cutie, Meg
Ryan; his Proof of Life co-star.
While filming Jodie Foster's Flora Plum,
Crowe suffered a shoulder injury. He will next be seen in A Beautiful Mind,
co-starring Jennifer Connelly.
While Crowe is only becoming a more powerful
force in film, he continues to tour with his band, 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts.
As one of Australia's greatest imports since Elle MacPherson and Mel Gibson,
this gladiator is taking his career to the maximus.