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celebrities > russell crowe

russell crowe

Russell Crowe. Though perhaps best known internationally for playing tough-guy roles in Romper Stomper (1993), L.A. Confidential (1997), and Gladiator (2000), New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe has proven himself equally capable of playing gentler roles in films such as Proof (1991) and The Sum of Us (1992). No matter what kind of characters he plays, Crowe's weather-beaten handsomeness and gruff charisma combine to make him constantly watchable: his one-time Hollywood mentor Sharon Stone has called him "the sexiest guy working in movies today."

Born in Auckland, New Zealand on April 7, 1964, Crowe was raised in Australia from the age of four. His parents made their living by catering movie shoots, and often brought Crowe with them to work; it was while hanging around the various sets that he developed a passion for acting. After making his professional debut in an episode of the television series Spyforce when he was six, Crowe took a twelve year break from professional acting, netting his next gig when he was eighteen. In film, he had his first major roles in such dramas as The Crossing (1990) and Jocelyn Moorhouse's widely praised Proof (1991) (for which he won an Australian Film Institute award). He then went on to gain international recognition for his intense, multi-layered portrayal of a Melbourne skinhead in George Wright's controversial Romper Stomper (1992), winning another AFI award, as well as an Australian Film Critics award.

It was Sharon Stone who helped bring Crowe to Hollywood to play a gunfighter-turned-preacher opposite her in Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead (1995). Though the film was not a huge box-office success, it did open Hollywood doors for Crowe, who subsequently split his time between the U.S. and Australia. In 1997, the actor had his largest success to date playing volatile cop Bud White in Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential (1997). Following the praise surrounding both the film and his performance in it, Crowe found himself working steadily in Hollywood, starring in two films released in 1999: Mystery, Alaska and The Insider. In the latter, he gave an Oscar-nominated lead performance as Jeffrey Wigand, a real-life tobacco industry employee whose personal life was dragged through the mud when he chose to blow the whistle on his former company's questionable business practices.

In 2000, however, Crowe finally crossed over into the public's consciousness with, literally, a tour de force performance in Ridley Scott's glossy Roman epic, Gladiator. The Dreamworks/Universal coproduction was a major gamble from the outset, devoting more than $100 million dollars to an unfinished script (involving the efforts of at least half a dozen writers), an untested star (stepping into a role originally intended for Mel Gibson), and an all-but-dead genre (the sword-and-sandles adventure). Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign and mostly positive notices, however, the public turned out in droves the first weekend of the film's release, and kept coming back long into the summer for Gladiator's potent blend of action, grandeur, and melodrama -- all anchored by Crowe's passionate man-of-few-words performance.

Anticipation was high, then, for the actor's second 2000 showing, the hostage drama Proof of Life. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the widely-publicized affair between Crowe and his co-star Meg Ryan, the film failed to generate much heat during the holiday box office season, and attention turned once again to the actor's star-making role some six months prior. In an Oscar year devoid of conventionally-spectacular epics, Gladiator netted 12 nominations in Feburary, 2001, including one for its lead performer. While many wags viewed the film's eventual Best Picture victory as a fluke, the same could not be said for Crowe's Best Actor victory: nudging past such stiff competition as Tom Hanks and Ed Harris, Crowe finally nabbed a statue, affirming for Hollywood the talent that critics had first noticed almost 10 years earlier.

Gladiator (2000)
Proof of Life (2000)
The Insider (1999)
Mystery, Alaska (1999)
Breaking Up (1997)
Heaven's Burning (1997)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
No Way Back (1996)
Rough Magic (1995)
Virtuosity (1995)
The Quick and the Dead (1994)
The Sum of Us (1994)
The Crossing (1992)
The Efficiency Expert (1992)
For the Moment (1992)
Romper Stomper (1992)
Hammers Over the Anvil (1991)
Proof (1991)

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