Russell Crowe is a beloved Oscar-winning actor who has starred in a number of critically-acclaimed moves, such as Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. He’s also a lot more than that: a rocker, a brawler and an adopted Aussie son.
Here are 46 things you may not know about Russell Crowe.
Russell Crowe Facts
46. That smile though!
When he was ten, he lost his front tooth playing rugby and never had it replaced. In 1990, George Ogilvie, the director of The Crossing, insisted he get it fixed and even paid for it out of his own pocket!
45. Whatever happened to Saturday night?
British director, Daniel Abineri, was the first to discover Crowe and cast him in his first professional role in the New Zealand version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Crowe played the role of Dr. Scott (Eddie).
44. Russ who?
For quite a while, Crowe pursued a career in music. He started out as a rockabilly singer and wore huge pompadour style hair, singing under the name of Russ Le Roq. His first single was titled, “I want to be like Marlon Brando.”
43. Rock man
Crowe continued to perform in a rock group he named 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. They played their first American gig in Austin Texas shortly after Gladiator was released and tickets reportedly sold on eBay for $500 each! They performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1992.
42. High school dropout
Crowe dropped out of high school in order to concentrate on acting. When he was offered a place in Australia’s prestigious National Institute for Dramatic Art, he took every acting job he could to save enough money for tuition. By the time he had saved enough, he was 21 and was already on his way to stardom, so he decided not to attend.
While accepting his Oscar in 2001 for Gladiator, Crowe wore his grandfather’s British Honours Medal.
40. A man of many nationalities
Crowe might sound like a Kiwi but his roots include English, German, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Swedish and Maori ancestry. In fact, he is registered on the Maori electoral roll in New Zealand.
39. Blackmail attempt
Over the years, Crowe developed a bit of a reputation as a brawler. One scuffle with two men was caught on a security tape outside the Plantation Hotel in Coff’s Harbour, Australia. The two men allegedly attempted to blackmail him with the footage but were acquitted in court.
38. And when they cut his speech?
In another incident, Crowe threw producer Malcolm Gerrie up against a wall after the actor’s acceptance speech was edited down during the taping of the British Film Awards. Crowe eventually issued a full apology.
37. Brawling in London
And in yet another incident Crowe brawled with businessman Eric Watson outside a London hotel. British actor Ross Kemp separated the men and Crowe announced that he was stressed and would return to Australia to spend time with this father and girlfriend, Danielle Spencer.
36. Assault.. with a telephone?
After he threw a telephone at a Mercer Hotel employee in 2005, Crowe was arrested by NYP and charged with assault. He plead guilty and was conditionally discharged and settled out of court with the hapless hotel employee. Crowe seems to have stopped his public brawling after this event.
35. Acting also delivered his bride
Crowe met his future wife, Danielle Spencer,when the two filmed the movie The Crossing (1990). Their fellow co-star, Robert Mammone, served as one of their groomsmen at their wedding. Son-in-law of actor Don Spencer.
34. BFF #1
He is very good friends with actress Jodie Foster and actually wrote a song about her titled “Other Ways of Speaking” that he performed with his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts.
While training for a boxing scene in Cinderella Man (2005), Crowe dislocated his shoulder and filming had to be delayed for two months.
32. Coaching may not be his calling
Crowe owns his own professional football team – the South Sydney Rabbitohs of the Australian NRL – along with businessman Peer Holmes. He’s an active owner and regularly attends games. His involvement is controversial though. He famously blew up at star player Luke Keary at a team bonding session at Crowe’s farm in 2016, with the movie star accusing the player of not earning his keep. Keary walked out and eventually signed with another team going on to lead the season in try-assists while the Rabbitohs floundered.
31. Overpaid? Maybe.
Oscars aside, Crowe may not be earning his keep either. According to 2007 Forbes magazine story, his movies averaged $5 of gross income for every dollar the actor got paid. According to Forbes this makes him the most overpaid celebrity in the industry.
30. His BFF #2
Crowe is also good friends with Australian Nicole Kidman, and she gave him a nod during her Oscar acceptance speech for her role in The Hours (2002).
29. The big man
While researching his role as a Los Angeles police officer, Bud White, in LA Confidential (1997), Crowe discovered that White was considered to be the largest cop on the force. At just under 6ft., Crowe was concerned with how to carry off White’s extra-large presence. To get a feel for his character, Crowe lived in a tiny apartment in which he could barely fit through the doors. He says the experience made him feel like a giant on set.
28. No alcohol, thanks
When his wife, Danielle Spencer, became pregnant with his first child, he gave up drinking alcohol in solidarity with her.
27. The addiction he couldn’t shake
Crowe did not have the same dedication with cigarettes. He started smoking when he was ten but in June 2010 he announced he was quitting his 60 cigarettes a day habit. In a David Letterman interview just five months later, he admitted he was still smoking heavily.
26. And the roles he didn’t take
An incredibly successful actor, Crowe has also turned down some really juicy roles, including the role of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings (2001), the lead in About a Boy (2002), Sgt. Norm “Hoot” Hooten in Black Hawk Down (2001) and the lead in Collateral (2004).
25. Favourite character
His favourite role of all time is his role as James J. Braddock in Cinderella Man (2005).
24. Perhaps not as tough as you think
He originally turned down the lead role in L.A. Confidential (1997). He didn’t think he could pull off such a tough character.
23. The sports fan
He is a dedicated sports fan. In addition to owning his own rugby team, he is a huge fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and the English Football side Leeds United AFC.
22. All in the family
Acting may be in Crowe’s blood. His maternal grandfather, Stan Wemyss, earned an MBE for the footage he shot of WWII. He also produced the first film by well-known New Zealand actor Geoff Murphy, according to Crowe.
21. Oscar luck
Dreamworks pictures enjoyed a Best Picture Oscar, winning streak in the early 2000’s that lasted for three years. Crowe starred in two of the films.
20. And more Oscar luck
He is one of only three actors to have starred in back to back Best Picture Oscar winning films. The other two actors were Clark Gable from the 1930’s and Walter Pidgeon from the 1940’s.
19. Maybe it’s not luck after all?
In a seven year stretch, he starred in five movies that were all nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Gladiator (2000) and A Beautiful Mind (2001) both won. L.A. Confidential (1997), The Insider (1999) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) were also nominated.
18. And the star goes to…
Crowe earned his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 12, 2010.
17. And before he was a start..
Crowe managed to squeeze in a lot of real life experiences before he made it as an actor. He worked as an entertainment manager on a resort and as a waiter, bartender, DJ, horse wrangler, bingo caller and insurance salesman.
16. Brain matters
Perhaps inspired by what he learned about the human brain in A Beautiful Mind, Crowe announced plans to donate his brain to medical science when he dies.
15. What’s in a name
Crowe often jokes that the only reason he is successful in Australia is because of his nickname, Rusty. He hates it.
14. Always the action man
Even as a child… Crowe’s favourite toy when he was growing up was his Action Man doll.
13. Famous Family Redux
Crowe is the cousin of professional New Zealand cricket players Jeff and Martin Crowe.
12. Ultimate roady
After he completed shooting his role in Gladiator, Crowe and a few friends took a four-thousand-mile road trip around Australia on their motorcycles.
11. Horses over people
Crowe has a real affinity for horses. He says they are much like people, and he often has a hard time leaving them behind when he finishes a movie.
10. Early start
The movie industry was introduced to him at a young age. Crowe’s parents were both movie set caterers. When the family moved to Australia, he got his start as a child actor on a local television show.
9. A few stats
Some stats: Russell Crowe was born on April 7, 1964 in Wellington, New Zealand. And just in case you are wondering, his middle name is Ira.
8. Too old? Never!
Crowe was the oldest actor to ever play Robin Hood. He was 45 when filming took place and received a lot of criticism for his age. He actually crash-dieted prior to starting the role in response to the criticism.
7. Ranch diet
For his role in The Insider (1999), he had to gain 40 pounds. He lost every bit of it prior to starting his role a few months later in Gladiator (2000). Crowe says he didn’t do anything special other than doing normal work on the 560-acre farm he owns, 7.5 hours north-west of Sydney, Australia.
6. Ready, set, go!
All of the scenes shot for his lead role in the 2009 movie, Tenderness, were shot over a period of just nine days!
5. Team spirit
To create a bit of team spirit and bonding among his castmates in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), played rugby with them during downtime. He even had them wear shirts and name tags that echoed the rank and stature of their characters to encourage a bit of discipline.
4.Classical violin anyone?
Ever the musician, Crowe took violin lessons to prepare for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). The character he played, Captain Jack Aubrey, plays the violin several times during the movie.
3. Australia’s favourite son? Maybe.
Although he has spent most of his life in Australia, Crowe never became a citizen. Nevertheless, in 2001, Australia awarded him the Australian Centenary medal for his services to Australian society and Australian film production. Crowe is also the only non-Australian to be featured on an Australian stamp other than Queen Elizabeth II of England. He was featured twice, once as himself and once as his character in Gladiator. Weird because Crowe says that he has been rejected in his bid to become an Australian citizen twice.
2. Secret Service Protection
In 2001 Crowe received protection from both Secret Service agents and Scotland Yard after it was discovered he was the target of an Al-Qaeda plot. A few years later, Crowe revealed that the FBI had informed him when he arrived in Los Angeles for the 2001 Academy Awards.
Russell Crowe was relentlessly pranked for several years in the early 2000’s. In hotels he would get calls from someone pretending to be the hotel manager and charging him some extra fee or making him change rooms. Once he was annoyed the pranker would giggle and then admit, “Don’t worry Russell, it’s me, Michael.” Michael would also call up and ask for Mr. Wall or Mrs. Wall or any walls. When Russell would respond there were no Walls there, Michael would ask, “then what is holding the roof up?” The calls persisted for three years and Crowe eventually figured out that the caller was actually Michael Jackson. The two never actually met in person.