Russell Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand of Welsh,
Scottish, Norwegian and New Zealand Māori descent. When he was four years old,
his family moved to Australia where his parents pursued a career in filmset
catering. His maternal grandfather, Stan Wemyss, was a cinematographer whom
Crowe says produced the first film by New Zealander Geoff Murphy. The producer
of the Australian TV series Spyforce was his mother's godfather, and Crowe at
age 5 or 6 got hired for a line of dialogue in one episode, opposite series star
Jack Thompson, whom years later played Crowe's father in The Sum of Us.
Russell Crowe attended Sydney Boys High School. When he was 14, his family moved back to New Zealand, where he then attended the Auckland Grammar School. He did not complete secondary school, leaving early to help his family financially. Crowe returned to Australia at 21, intending to apply to the National Institute of Dramatic Art. "I was working in a theater show, and talked to a guy who was then the head of technical support at NIDA," Crowe recalled. "I asked him what he thought about me spending three years at NIDA. He told me it'd be a waste of time. He said, 'You already do the things you go there to learn, and you've been doing it for most of your life, so there's nothing to teach you but bad habits' " .
After appearing in the TV series Neighbours and Living with the Law, Crowe was cast in his first film, The Crossing (1990), a small-town love triangle directed by George Ogilvie. Before production started, a film-student protégé of Ogilvie's, Steve Wallace, hired Crowe for the film "Blood Oath," a.k.a. "Prisoners of the Sun" (1990), which though filmed later was released a month ealier.
After initial success in Australia, Crowe began acting in American films. A three-time Oscar nominee, he won the Academy Award as Best Actor in 2001 for Gladiator. Crowe wore his grandfather, Stan Wemyss's Member of the Order of the British Empire medal to the ceremony.
Crowe received three consecutive best actor Oscar nominations for The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. All three films were also nominated for best picture. Within the six year stretch from 1997-2003, he also starred in two other best picture nominees, LA Confidential and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, though he was nominated for neither.
On March 9, 2005, Crowe revealed to GQ magazine that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had approached him prior to the 73rd Academy Awards on March 25, 2001 and told him that the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda wanted to kidnap him. Crowe told the magazine that it was the first time he had ever heard of al-Qaeda (the September 11 attacks took place later that year) and was quoted as saying:
"You get this late-night call from the FBI when you arrive in Los Angeles, and they're, like, absolutely full-on. 'We’ve got to talk to you now before you do anything. We have to have a discussion with you, Mr. Crowe.'" Crowe recalled that "it was something to do with some recording picked up by a French policewoman, I think, in either Libya or Algiers...it was about taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization plan." Crowe was guarded by Secret Service agents for the next few months, both while shooting films and at award ceremonies (Scotland Yard also guarded Crowe while he was promoting Proof of Life in London in February 2001). Crowe said that he "never fully understood what the f--- was going on." The FBI confirmed Crowe's statement (which is uncharacteristic of the agency in that it usually does not comment to the media).
Russell Crowe has a reputation for bad temper and a predilection for brawling. This was parodied in an episode of the cartoon South Park titled The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer. In this episode, Crowe is the star of his own, fictional TV series "Russell Crowe – Fighting around the World" in which he travels the world in his tug boat "Tugger" to fight people of different nationalities. The show is somewhat made up like a nature documentary.
He won the Best Actor in the 2002 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards for his portrayal of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. During the presentation for his award, he planned to read a piece of poetry called Sanctity by Patrick Kavanagh but was cut short to fit in the BBC's tape-delayed broadcast. At the awards after party, he accosted producer Malcolm Gerrie.  Crowe later apologised for his actions, but many believe this incident was responsible for depriving Crowe of the Oscar for Best Actor that year. A Beautiful Mind won four of the eight awards for which it was nominated, with the lone and conspicuous exception being Crowe's nomination for Best Actor. During the filming of A Beautiful Mind on the campus of Princeton University, he made an obscene gesture to a Princeton student who he spotted photographing him, which raised a media stir. 
In the early hours of November 18, 1999, Crowe was involved in a scuffle at the Saloon Bar in Coffs Harbour, Australia. The altercation was caught by a security video, which three men unsuccessfully used to attempt to extort money from him.
In the early hours of November 14, 2002, Crowe, in London to attend the funeral of friend and Gladiator costar Richard Harris, ran into another New Zealander Eric Watson at the trendy London restaurant Zuma. According to eyewitness reports the scuffle broke-out in the restroom of the restaurant where Watson was found on top of the Oscar winner (who was on the floor), apparently giving him a good pounding. Crowe and Watson reportedly have a strained relationship, apparently dating back to a fight over a woman two years ago.
In the early morning of June 6, 2005, Crowe was arrested and charged with second degree assault by New York Police, in connection with an incident at the Mercer Hotel, SoHo, New York, in which Crowe violently threw a broken telephone at a hotel employee. He was further charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon (the telephone).
Crowe released a statement saying he was jet-lagged, missing his family in Australia and became frustrated after having repeated difficulties making a phone call to his wife in Australia. He was sentenced to conditional release on the basis that he not be arrested in the United States for a year and pay US$160 in court costs. He also paid about US$100,000 to settle the civil lawsuit to the concierge, Nestor "Josh" Estrada, who was treated for a facial laceration on his upper right cheek.
Russell Crowe has been vocal in his criticisms of other artists. He has stated that Robert De Niro has disappointed him many times over the years by making bad movies, and has remarked that he believes Laurence Olivier was extremely overrated. In 2005 Crowe got into a spat with George Clooney after he criticized the American actor and director for publicly donating money to charity, saying these things should be kept private. He also attacked De Niro, Clooney and Harrison Ford for advertising products, which Crowe maintains is an abuse of their celebrity status. Clooney responded that Crowe was using his own celebrity status to promote his band.
On April 7, 2003, his 39th birthday, Crowe married the Australian singer and actress Danielle Spencer. Their son, Charles Spencer Crowe, was born on December 21 of that year. Crowe met Spencer while filming "The Crossing" (1990). In January 2006, Crowe announced they were expecting their second child in July. Crowe previously dated the American film star Meg Ryan, after they met while filming Proof of Life (2000).
Two of Russell Crowe's cousins, Martin and Jeff Crowe are former New Zealand cricket captains.
Crowe currently resides in Australia at both his Sydney home (in Woolloomooloo, New South Wales) and his rural property near Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.
Russell Crowe has been a major supporter of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team for many years, appearing at many home games, and supporting the club during its time when they were forced from the NRL competition for two years, once paying $40,000 during an auction for a brass bell used to open the first Rugby League competition match in Australia in 1908, which he then returned to the club. In 2005, he made them the first club team in Australia to be sponsered by a film, when he negotiated a deal to advertise his movie Cinderella Man across the front of their jerseys throughout the latter half of the season.
He is friends with many current and former players of the club, and currently employs former South Sydney forward Mark Caroll as a bodyguard and personal trainer. He has been noted on several occasions to have tried to sway co-stars or friends in supporting the club. Some who have supported the club or have been seen at the clubs games along with Crowe are Tom Cruise and Burt Reynolds.
As of late 2005, Crowe has put in a bid to the South Sydney board and members, along with businessman Peter Holmes a Court to purchase a majority 75% controlling interest in the team, with the remaining 25% going to club members. The board have voted yes to move ahead and allow the club members to determine if the sale will go ahead, and as of yet, are still to vote on the subject.
Russell Crowe is also a singer and composer. He was the lead singer and guitarist of an Australian pub rock band, 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts, which formed in 1992. The band had found neither critical nor popular success but had several releases including 1998's Gaslight, 2001's Bastard Life or Clarity and 2003's Other Ways of Speaking, plus various CD releases now out of print. His early stage name was "Rus Le Roq" and he was billed as such while performing with the New Zealand production of Rocky Horror.
According to a message from Crowe on his band's web site, the group has "dissolved/evolved" and his music would take a new direction. He continued with a collaboration with Alan Doyle of the Canadian band, Great Big Sea, in early 2005. A new single, Raewyn, was released on April 19, 2005. Former members of his previous band have taken part in the new project. An album entitled My Hand, My Heart has been released for download on iTunes and includes a tribute song to the late actor, Richard Harris, who became a close friend when the two were making Gladiator.
According to Russell, there is no 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts without his longtime musical partner, Dean Cochran, who was absent for the recording of My Hand, My Heart. Though Dean was present for a mid-2000s show in Le Thor, France. and took part in the filming of a music video for the song Weight of a Man, the band was billed as Russell Crowe and Friends. Crowe has also been behind the camera: in 2002, he directed the music video clip (which starred former child actor Duy Nguyen) for his wife Danielle Spencer's single 'Tickle Me' from her 'White Monkey' album.
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