Seldom does a single actor change Hollywood’s perception1 of the perfect man. Yet Russell Crowe – a quiet, moody2, hard-bitten3 New Zealander – appears to have done exactly that.
Russell Ira Crowe was born on April 7th, 1964, in Strathmore Park, a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand (he has Maori blood from his mother’s side of the family). The cinema was in Russell’s blood. His mother’s father was an award-winning cinematographer during World War 2, while his parents were set caterers4.
Due to his parents’ profession and world-view5, Russell’s life has been fairly nomadic6. His family moved to Australia when he was just four. Precociously7 confident8 and fascinated9 by the film-sets his parents frequented, he began acting at the tender age of six. He played an orphan10 in the Australian TV series Spyforce, the first of his many small parts as a child actor.
His family returned to New Zealand in 1978, and Crowe began performing as a rock singer, named himself Russ Le Roc, and released a couple of singles. When this burst11 of fame died out12, he took on all manner of jobs to pay his way. He was entertainments manager on a resort13 island, as well as a waiter, a bartender, a fruit picker, a DJ, an insurance salesman etc.
Crowe returned to Australia in the early 1980s to pursue his acting career, winning a role in a production of the musical Grease in 1983. From 1986 to 1988, Crowe starred in a touring production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Though this combination of acting and music was fun, Crowe eventually found himself drawn towards more “serious” and challenging14 roles. First came Blood Oath (1990), then the drama The Crossing (1990), which marked his first leading role, and the comedy The Efficiency Expert (1991), with Anthony Hopkins.
His breakthrough roles showcased two very different sides of Crowe – in 1992’s Proof, he played a gentle, gullible15 dishwasher, earning an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor; he won the Best Actor statue the next year, for his turn as a brutal16 Nazi skinhead in the controversial film Romper Stomper. Beatings were frequent and exceptionally violent, and the film caused a major furore17, both in Australia and abroad.
In 1995, Crowe made his American film debut, appearing with Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, and Leonardo DiCaprio in the offbeat18 Western The Quick and the Dead, which met with a mediocre19 critical reception. From here on, Crowe’s star rose remorselessly20. Alongside Denzel Washington in Virtuosity (1995), he played a man possessed by the spirits of multiple murderers. He also played the romantic leads in the little-seen films Rough Magic (1995), opposite Bridget Fonda.
Though many insiders21 pegged22 him as “one to watch,” no one in America really paid attention to Crowe until L.A. Confidential, the highly acclaimed 1997 film that probed23 the dark underside24 of Los Angeles in the 1950s. Crowe’s simmering25 performance as brutal, forthright26 cop Bud White earned him rave27 reviews and a certain measure of recognition among American moviegoers28.
Crowe’s first starring role of 1999 came in Mystery, Alaska, a poorly received comedy co-starring Burt Reynolds. He had a good deal29 more success with his next film, The Insider (1999), based on the true story of an ex-tobacco company executive who is convinced30 by a TV news producer to blow the whistle31 on the powerful tobacco industry. The film, which also starred Al Pacino, garnered32 a huge amount of critical praise – including Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director.
In 2000, Crowe vaulted33 to A-list34 Hollywood stardom with his charismatic performance as a Roman general-turned-vengeful35 slave36 in Gladiator, the ambitious Roman epic37 and blockbuster summer hit directed by Ridley Scott and co-starring Joaquin Phoenix. The film collected 12 Academy Award nominations, including a second Best Actor for Crowe. On Oscar night in March 2001, Crowe beat out Hollywood stalwart38 Tom Hanks, among others, to take home the prize. Gladiator won in five categories, including the night’s biggest honour, Best Picture.
Crowe is very much his own man39. After Gladiator, he took off on a 4000-mile motorcycle tour of Australia, with a few friends. And he admits to occasionally being too much his own man.
While filming Proof Of Life (2000), he fell for40 co-star Meg Ryan, then involved in a hard divorce from Dennis Quaid. “We fell in love”, he said later, “It happens, thank God. She’s a magnificent41 person”. But Russell did not make time42 for her and they split.
Crowe was now one of the biggest stars alive, turning down43 the part of Wolverine44 in X-Men and receiving a hefty $15 million paycheck for his latest project, A Beautiful Mind (2001). Here he played John Nash, a real-life Nobel Prize-winning mathematician at Princeton during the Cold War. It was a heavy movie, for sure, but Crowe’s charisma and performance made it an $100 million hit and he won Golden Globe and BAFTA for his effort. He was also nominated for Oscar.
Then it was Master And Commander (2003) where Crowe played Captain Jack Aubrey, the brash45 but sensitive sea captain greedy46 for victory during the Napoleonic Wars. The same year would bring marriage at last. Crowe married Australian singer and soap47 star Danielle Spencer (they have two sons, Charles and Tennyson). Crowe’s next release would be 2005’s Cinderella Man which reunited him with A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard. This was the real-life tale of Jim Braddock, a boxer whose broken hand sees him struggling to feed his family during the Great Depression48.
Then Crowe would move on to 3:10 To Yuma (2007), a remake of the classic 1957 western, co-starring Christian Bale. With the clock ticking tensely, and Crowe and Bale superb in their verbal duelling, it would be a great western, the best in years.
Crowe’s other release of 2007 would also be impressive. This was American Gangster, a true life story that would see him directed yet again by Ridley Scott. Here former Virtuosity co-star Denzel Washington would star as a drug kingpin49 in 1970s New York, making a killing50 on pure, cheap heroin and running his outfit51 like a professional corporation.
2008 would see Crowe take a minor but crucial52 role in Tenderness. Following this would come another reunion with Ridley Scott, Body Of Lies. This would see Leonardo DiCaprio as an idealistic CIA53 agent who plans to eliminate54 a master terrorist by convincing al-Qaeda that he cannot be trusted.
Russell Crowe’s perfectionism seems to have paid off. He is a major Hollywood player of long standing. Yet he cannot abide55 Hollywood itself, preferring for years to spend his spare time either with his rock band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, or on his 560-acre farm. The farm is run in his absence by his parents and older brother Terry. When Russell came home, he used to live in a caravan56 nearby.
This “rough diamond” knows what he wants, works hard to get it and possesses the talent to pull it off57. He is unarguably58 a star.
Sources: www.tiscali.co.uk; www.biography.com
1 perception – представление (о чем-л.)
2 moody – угрюмый
3 hard-bitten – упорный
4 set caterer – поставщик продуктов питания на съёмки
5 world-view – мировоззрение
6 nomadic – кочевой
7 precociously – не по годам
8 confident – уверенный в себе
9 fascinated – очарованный
10 orphan – сирота
11 burst – (зд.) вспышка
12 to die out – затухать
13 resort – курорт
14 challenging – трудный, но интересный
15 gullible – доверчивый
16 brutal – жестокий
17 furore – фурор
18 offbeat – необычный
19 mediocre – посредственный
20 remorselessly – неумолимо
21 insider – носитель конфиденциальной информации
22 to peg – (разг.) классифицировать
23 to probe – (зд.) рассматривать
24 underside – оборотная сторона
25 simmering – (зд.) едва сдерживающий гнев
26 forthright – прямой
27 rave – (зд.) восторженный
28 moviegoer – кинолюбитель
29 a good deal – гораздо
30 to convince – убеждать
31 to blow the whistle – выдать кого-л.
32 to garner – собирать
33 to vault – перескакивать
34 A-list – (звёзды) первой величины
35 vengeful – мстительный
36 slave – раб
37 epic – (зд.) киноэпопея
38 stalwart – стойкий приверженец
39 one’s own man – своевольный
40 to fall for – (разг.) влюбиться
41 magnificent – изумительный
42 to make time – (зд.) находить время
43 to turn down – отвергать
44 wolverine – росомаха
45 brash – дерзкий
46 greedy – жадный
47 soap (opera) – мыльная опера (многосерийная телепостановка на семейные и бытовые темы обычно сентиментального характера)
48 Great Depression – Великая депрессия (крупнейший экономический кризис, охвативший США, начиная с 1929 г.)
49 kingpin – центральная фигура
50 to make a killing – сорвать куш
51 outfit – предприятие
52 crucial – ключевой
53 CIA – /Central Intelligence Agency/ ЦРУ (Центральное разведывательное управление)
54 to eliminate – устранять
55 to abide – выносить , терпеть
56 caravan – трейлер
57 to pull off – добиться успеха
58 unarguably – бесспорно
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