THE CROWE ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD,
from the June 24-30 issue of HEAT.
Associate Editor, Features, Julian Linley


1 Rocky Horror: Well everyone’s got to start somewhere. New Zealand-born Russell moved to Australia with his family, aged four and promptly found himself on TV and movie sets, where his parents worked as caterers. Child-extra parts followed, and Crowe Jr was soon on a course to showbiz success. Instant stardom eluded him, however, and he had to pay his dues in live-theatre staple: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing Frank N Furter 416 times.

2 Rock Star: Russell’s first love was music and he invented a rock star alter ego: Russ Le Roc. Two decades before Gladiator Russ the leader of band Roman Antix, who became 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts,” Most of the time we go by TOFOG-it saves money on the embroidery,” says Crowe. One of his more famous compositions was ‘I Want To Be Like Marlon Brando’ and, years later, the actor has been compared to the legend.

3 Neighbours: Just as the likes of Jonny Lee Miller have had a bit part in East Enders, so it is every Aussie actor’s duty to show up in Neighbours, as did Russell briefly.

4 Romper Stomper: Russell enjoyed an international profile in 1991’s Proof, playing a gentle kitchen porter who befriended an eccentric blind photographer. But it was a year later in Romper Stomper, as a neo-Nazi skinhead gang leader Hando, that he made his mark. It was the undercurrent of repressed vulnerability, rather than mere brutality, that made Crowe’s performance noteworthy

5 Playing Gay: While he was waiting for the world to discover him, Russell brought his manly charm to the part of Jeff, the gay pint-drinking Uber-bloke in The Sum Of Us. In this comedy, Russell has to endure the embarrassment of his nice widower Dad trying to fix him up with other men.

6 Hollywood beckons: The turning point in Crowe’s career came in 1994 when Sharon Stone plucked him from obscurity to star opposite her and Gene Hackman in the western The Quick And The Dead.” He is the sexiest guy working in movies,” said Stone. “He has grit and luminosity at the same time.” Hackman didn’t agree, which led to on-set tensions between the two men, though Russell bonded with his other co-star, young Leonardo DiCaprio. Crowe’s salary was one of the tiniest items in the films $35 million budget: “I got paid less than somebody who was an extra for the whole film.” The long shoot marked the end of Russell’s five-year relationship with Australian actress Danielle Spencer, but Stone took pity and invited him to spend Christmas morning with her, volunteering at a Salvation Army centre.

6 Oops: Crowe may have been near the top of every Hollywood insider’s Next Big Things list, but his wayward movie choices prevented him breaking through. Silly virtual-reality thriller Virtuosity, quirky road-movie Rough Magic, uninspired romcom Breaking Up, ice-hockey flick Mystery, Alaska- non of those took Russell any closer to stardom. Meanwhile the actor, born in April 1964 was slipping into his mid-thirties.

7 Salvation: Among this string of flops Crowe scooped one part that kept his name alive with those who mattered: bruiser cop Bud White in critically acclaimed L.A.Confidential. Russell had long specialised in roles where a tough exterior masked inner alluring fusion of good-cop-bad-cop proved a slam-dunk for the versatile actor. “He’s a racist self-righteous, foul –mouthed, a son of a bitch.” Said Crowe at the time. “However, in the course of the movie, you get an indication as to why. He doesn’t realise how much he’s looking for love and affection and confirmation of his good points, buried as they may be.

8 Oscar!; When legendary Hollywood director Michael Mann (Heat) needed a heavyweight actor to play 53-year-old tobacco exec. Jeffrey Wigand, the man who spills the beans on America’s cigarette industry, for The Insider, he turned to Crowe, then 35. The actor gorged on bourbon and cheeseburgers to gain 35 pounds and donned a grey wig. He was rewarded with a Best Actor Oscar nomination

9 Romance: When Crowe turned up at this year’s Golden Globes with Jodie Foster, Hollywood gossip-mongers went into overdrive, suggesting the father of Foster’s son had identified himself, “ We got on like a house on fire” says Crowe on Foster, “But, no, I’m not Charlie’s father.” Foster is directing Crowe in upcoming Flora Plum.

10 Ker-ching: Getting an Oscar nomination is all very well, but nothing has an impact on your career quite like a big hit. Gladiator, in which Crowe plays heroic General Maximus, has already grossed over $200 million world-wide and has catapulted him to the front ranks of action stars: the new Mel Gibson, the actor with the sexy charm and manly authority to play the muscular Hollywood hero. His fee has leapt to a dizzying 15 million per movie. Two new films, hostage drama Proof Of Life and Flora Plum, got lucky, signing him before Gladiator hit big, but whoever wants Russell next will have to open their chequebook wide. Favourite is Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind, choosing Crowe after his mate Tom Cruise passed on it. Shows just how big Crowe has now become.
~article typed by bryter layter