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  • Writer's pictureRyan Nevin

Actor of the Week: Russell Crowe

Black and white russell crowe close up

Actor of the Week is a fan favourite here at Life of Films, and that’s why we are excited to introduce this week’s holder - Russell Crowe. Russell Crowe is an Australian born actor, and is a massive success in Hollywood. I, for one, am a huge fan and here’s why…

Many Australian actors usually start off in one of the two most famous Australian TV shows - either Home & Away or Neighbours, and Crowe starred in Neighbours, back in 1987, where he played Kenny Larkin. This wasn’t a huge role, only starring in four episodes, but it was the start of his extremely successful career.

Crowe did many films leading up to his role in L.A. Confidential, which I would class as his big break, such as No Way Back and Virtuosity, where starred alongside Denzel Washington. But L.A Confidential was certainly the film that showed the world what Crowe was capable of. L.A Confidential starred many incredible actors such as Kevin Spacey and Guy Pearce, but this did not overshadow Crowe in any way, with him putting in a brilliant performance as Bud White, a cop renowned for his tough attitude towards wife-beaters.

Crowe continued building his name within the acting industry, working alongside Al Pacino in The Insider, but little did he know how big he was going to become when Ridley Scott casted him in one of the biggest roles in cinema history - Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator, for which he won an Oscar for his unbelievable performance. I am a huge fan of this film, and it is one of the main reasons for why I have picked Russell Crowe to be our AotW this week. Gladiator is an incredible film about vengeance, where a General (Russell Crowe) seeks revenge on a newly appointed leader of Rome who is responsible for ruining the General’s career and murdering his family. The General finds himself captured and turned into a slave forced to fight in the legendary roman Gladiator battles, which he then uses to build a name for himself, turning to his army skills to survive, and then using his stardom to get closer to the Roman leader, Comodus, played incredibly by Joaquin Phoenix. I think I will do a separate review on this film, as it truly is a masterpiece, and one of the last real decent films Ridley Scott has done to date. The scene below is one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history and really shows how incredible Crowe is as an actor.

With Crowe putting in an incredible performance as the lead in Gladiator, the film opportunities came flooding in, such as the Oscar awarding winning film Beautiful Mind, directed by Ron Howard, and for which Crowe was nominated for best leading role, but sadly did not win: eventually being beaten by his old co-star Denzel Washington for his role in Training Day. This wasn’t the last time Crowe starred in a Ron Howard film, as later on in his career he starred as a boxer struggling to fend for his family in Cinderella Man. He also reunited with Ridley Scott and Denzel Washington in the film American Gangster, again being well received critically. Honestly, the list goes on and on for Crowe, and I would love to speak about them all but his CV really does speak for itself.

One film I would like to mention is Man of Steel, where Crowe played the father of Superman himself, Jor-El. A role once played by Marlon Brando back in Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman, meaning Crowe had incredible shoes to fill, and I personally felt he did a great job doing so. I am aware the film itself had very mixed reviews but I don’t think Russell Crowe’s acting was in question. I for one really enjoyed the take on Jor-El in this film, making him seem like a real badass on Superman’s home planet Krypton.

I recently watched The Nice Guys, where Crowe stars alongside Ryan Gosling in a 70’s Crime film where two unlikely P.I.’s cross each other’s paths, and end up working together to solve a missing persons case. This film got mixed reviews, and I was more on the negative side, finding this film to be dull and trying too hard to be funny. This, however, did not take away anything from Crowe as he shown us that even in a film that isn’t particularly great, he can still shine, with him easily being the highlight of this movie.

What Crowe has accomplished in his career so far is nothing short of amazing, making him one of the best actors of my time. I am always pleased to hear when Crowe is cast in a film I am interested in, and become interested in a film if he is casted in it. Not bad for a guy who started off in only four episodes of Neighbours, hey!

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