A Kiwi that we’ve claimed as our own, Russell Crowe quickly transitioned from Aussie indie films to the Hollywood big time and Oscar glory. With his new series, The Loudest Voice, now available on DVD, it’s time to chart the flight of the Crowe with a selection from his diverse filmography.
Intense performances in edgy indie films frequently create superstars, as was the case here. Russell Crowe’s breakout role as racist skinhead Hando in director Geoffrey Wright’s controversial cult movie won him the AFI (now AACTA) award in 1992 for Best Actor in a Lead Role and opened doors in Hollywood.
THE SUM OF US
Crowe teamed up with Aussie acting legend Jack Thompson for this heartwarming and often hilarious dramedy that boasted a refreshingly progressive attitude to LGTBQ issues in 1994. Crowe plays the gay son of a widower (Thompson) who’s completely comfortable with his boy’s sexuality, and over eager to help him find his Mr. Right.
Crowe’s performance in Romper Stomper convinced director Curtis Hanson to cast him as loose cannon cop Bud White in this critically acclaimed neo-noir thriller based on James Ellroy’s novel. White has a vendetta against those who abuse women, and Crowe has stated that he was drawn to the character’s “self-righteous moral crusade”.
“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” The 2001 Oscar for Best Actor went to Crowe for his fiery performance as the former Roman General.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND
Crowe scored his third Oscar nomination for his stellar portrayal of schizophrenic mathematics genius John Nash in director Ron Howard’s 2001 biopic. Although the actor was reluctant to meet the real John Nash for fear it might influence his interpretation, he had little option when Nash showed up on the film set one day.
MASTER AND COMMANDER
Crowe took the helm as British Navy Captain Jack Aubrey in director Peter Weir’s seafaring adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars. Wanting to form a sense of authority on the set, he had all the actors wear shirts according to their characters’ rank. He also learned to play the violin, and has admitted it was one of the toughest things he’d had to do for a film.
THE NICE GUYS
Crowe’s corpulent thug-for-hire and Ryan Gosling’s dimwit detective join forces to discover the whereabouts of a missing activist in director Shane Black’s 2016 buddy comedy. Perceiving the character Jackson Healy as a “stocky brawler type” and the physical juxtaposition of Gosling, the actor piled on some additional kilos for the role. Method!
Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, Joel Edgerton’s second film as a director is a searing indictment of church-supported gay conversion programs. In a reversal of the themes of The Sum of Us, Crowe plays the Baptist pastor father of 19-year-old Jared (Lucas Hedges), whom he enrols in conversion therapy with the belief it will cure his son of his homosexuality. The film marks the first time that Crowe and Nicole Kidman have appeared in a film together.