After appearing in an episode of Spyforce aged eight in 1972, and a brief appearance in The Young Doctors five years later, Crowe landed a four episode stint in our favourite Australian neighbourhood – Erinsborough.
As Kenny, Crowe brings the beefy lug charm (ahem) in Neighbours , playing a small-time crook and buddy to Craig McLaghlan’s Henry Mitchell. We wonder if they’ve ever asked Crowe to return…
Little Or Large? The skinniest we’ve ever seen him! He had youth on his side back then, of course.
Blood Oath (1990)
Crowe considers this 1945-set war flick his training for the world of acting.
“I call that my apprenticeship,” he remembers. “Ten weeks of being an apprentice you know, working every day with Bryan [Brown].
"For me it was about how you conduct yourself with people on the set. At the end of that film I thought I was much better prepared, that I actually had an understanding what the medium was about.”
Little Or Large? Prim and fit for his part in the army.
The Crossing (1990)
Legend has it that when director George Ogilvie asked Crowe which role he fancied in this romantic drama, the big fella answered “All of them”. Naturally.
Instead he went for Johnny, one side of a messy love triangle that looks destined to end in tragedy. He admits that he in no way identified with the character, who he calls “a down-to-earth, primal and atavistic man”.
Director Ogilvie thinks Russ actually “reminds me of James Dean.” Yeah, okay.
Little Or Large? Slimmer than ever – or is that just because of the slimming effects of the tank top?
"It was a fantastic script," enthuses Crowe of Proof . "It was the best script I've ever read as far as its completeness is concerned. As soon as I read it I knew I wanted to do it.”
Starring opposite an also-then-unknown Hugo Weaving, Crowe plays Andy, a kitchen worker who befriends Weaving’s blind Martin. When Martin’s housekeeper grows jealous of the mens’ relationship, she sets out to destroy it.
“It's all about a search for truth and honesty," says Crowe. Ahhhh.
Little Or Large? The pounds are starting to add up, but he’s still a spring chicken.
Brides Of Christ (1991)
This six part mini-series also starred Australian up-and-comer Naomi Watts. Crowe shows up as Dominic Maloney in the story of Diane, a young woman in ‘60s Australia who ditches her fiancé when she receives ‘the call’.
But the Catholic Church is dealing with upheavals after the death of the Pope and the war in Vietnam. Crowe’s Dominic becomes a bone of contention when Catholic student Rosemary decides to explore her, um, blossoming sexuality. Crowe also gets to shows off his singing.
Little Or Large? Pounds holding firm. Nothing to report.
Russ takes on the small role of Kim, a “parody of ambition” who believes that he is the best thing since best of both bread, but really is a vacuous bottom feeder.
The Aussie actor worked alongside Anthony Hopkins on the flick, who found Russ to be “a very fine actor but very different”.
“I was impressed with his determination,” remembers Hopkins. “He reminded me of myself as a young actor. It was almost like watching my own reflection."
Little Or Large? Chiselled and, we don’t mind adding, looking really rather dapper in that suit.
Romper Stomper (1992)
Skinhead neo-Nazis take out their anger over the changing face of Melbourne by beating up the local Vietnamese people.
Russ and some of his fellow cast members were arrested near a Melbourne housing estate while parading about in their skinhead costumes.
“To me, it was a very important subject matter,” says Russ. “And one that should definitely be on the breakfast table for discussion, particularly in Australia and particularly, I felt at that time.”
Little Or Large? Lean and mean, say we. Cool tats, too (sort of).
The Quick And The Dead (1995)
"When there are only two good souls in the entire town, they're going to find each other,” says Crowe. We think he’s talking about his character Cort and Sharon Stone’s Ellen, rather than the actors themselves.
That said, Sharon Stone was responsible for hand picking Crowe for the role – and fought for him when the studio struggled over casting him thanks to his unknown status.
Little Or Large? Looking good, though couldn’t he have had a bath before filming?
No Way Back (1995)
Interesting factoid: this was the first film in which Russ played a dad.
As FBI Agent Zack Grant, he's an investigator looking to get to the bottom of his partner’s murder.
The flick’s villainous neo-Nazi Victor Serlano has almost identical tattoos on his body to those donned by Crowe in Romper Stomper. In the industry, that’s what we call an ‘in-joke’. Funny one, huh?
Little Or Large? Beefed up for the FBI role, no doubt about it.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Despite being (granted, respectably) 5' 11" in height, Crowe was worried that he didn’t quite have the right stature to play the imposing Bud White, whom James Ellroy described as “the biggest man in the Los Angeles Police Department”.
Director Curtis Hanson wasn’t concerned, convincing Crowe that he could bring out “the size of the man in other ways” for this crime drama. He did.
Little Or Large? Has Crowe put on weight, or is the close-cropped hair just creating an optical illusion?
The Insider (1999)
“He's not a hero in any easy sense,” says Crowe of his real life character Jeff Wigand. “He's not the man with a white hat, ain't got no silver bullets baby, you know. He's just a bloke, you know.
“But at the end of the day we gotta be judged by what we've done, what we've actually done. And I think he's a man who should be honoured.” Russ was nominated for an Oscar for his role in this biographical thriller.
Little Or Large? Check out that beer belly! Crowe put on 35 pounds for the part, and it shows.
"We have a massive fight sequence at the beginning of the film which leads to a series of massive fight sequences so we can end on a fight sequence that is what I would consider to be massive."
Crowe’s insight into Gladiator is obviously one of a kind. He finally bagged that Oscar for his first tango with director Ridley Scott. It was a surprisingly personal film, Maximus’ description of his home actually a description of Crowe’s own place.
Little Or Large? Built like a brick shithouse, Russ goes from Insider ’s podgy to massively muscle-y for his role.
Proof Of Life (2000)
"He's got a very good bedside manner,” natters Crowe about his character Terry Thorne. “He's very calm and reassuring to the client, but there is a distance.”
Terry’s an ex-military negotiator who Meg Ryan recruits to help get her kidnapped husband back. The flick was critically panned, despite Crowe’s best efforts.
Little Or Large? Still bulked up for a physically demanding role.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Ron Howard directs Russ as John Nash, the brilliant but socially constricted mathematician who went on to win a Nobel prize. Crowe narrowly missed out on his own prize after being nominated for another Oscar.
“I certainly take what I do really seriously,” the man himself says. “I really enjoy the sort of relationships that I have with Ron, where I'm working with a bloke who has mastered a very elusive medium, you know. He's very intellectual about it.”
Little Or Large? The Insider weight’s definitely gone by this point.
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World (2003)
Crowe was so keen on creating a sense of authority on the set of Peter Weir’s high seas adventure that he had all actors wear shirts in line with the rank of their character. Officers were in blue, marines in red and everybody else in white.
“You have to train your men," he says, "to respond to your being definite and not to question the moment." Whew. Some of the filming was done using the same tank built for Titanic .
Little Or Large? Maybe it’s just the costume, but he’s looking a bit podgy again…
Cinderella Man (2005)
"It was one of those great moments in history where the whole of the working class had a hero who fulfilled what they asked him to do."
Crowe’s talking about boxer Jim Braddock, an underdog shoved out of the ring for losing one too many fights, but who then returns during the Great Depression to rapturous applause.
Co-star Paul Giamatti remembers "the first thing [Russell] said was, 'I can just be a horrible, irascible guy, and I apologise ahead of time if I get that way.' But I loved working with him."
Little Or Large? Large, definitely large. But he’s a boxer, so it’s allowed.
A Good Year (2006)
Russ’ second film with Ridley Scott was a far more light-hearted one than their first.
“Ridley said that he believes that we’re both marginally grumpy men,” muses Russ. “But our mood significantly lightens in each other’s company. It’s an incredible privilege for me to be on a Ridley Scott film. If he keeps asking, I’m going to keep saying ‘yes’.”
Russ’ wardrobe in the film was mostly influenced on the actor’s uncle, David William Crowe.
Little Or Large? Those slimline suits are handy for hiding any leftover Cinderella Man padding…
3:10 To Yuma (2007)
It’s the Wild West again for Crowe, as he saddles up to play outlaw Ben Wade, captured after heisting a stage coach. Escorted by Christian Bale’s rancher Dan to his trial, the two men get close even as Ben’s gang scheme to rescue him.
Why’d Russ go for the flick? “The same as it’s always been: what’s the story, what’s the character, you know. That’s my primary focus when I read a script. I don’t think that I’ve become more selective over time. I think I came into it being selective.”
Little Or Large? Russ cuts a dashing figure as the outlaw. No flab here.
American Gangster (2007)
"He's the best. I mean, he and Denzel [Washington] are - I better say - two of the best, because I'll piss off everybody else."
Ridley Scott there, never lacking in praise for his regular collaborator. They discussed the project the previous year while working on A Good Year . Scott went on to film in a staggering 180 locations, around 60 of those in Harlem alone.
Little Or Large? Still looking trim. That gym must be getting sick of the sight of him.
Body Of Lies (2008)
It’s Ridley and Russ again (seriously, these guys need to get a room). “With the last three things we've done together it's basically, ‘Right, this is what we're doing,’ and I'm like, ‘Okay, cool,’” admits Russ. “I'll say yes first with him and then work out why I want to do it afterwards.”
Russ’ fourth film with the Brit director sees the Aussie teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio for a political thrill ride.
Little Or Large? “The first thing that I got was a phone call from Ridley saying, ‘How would you like to put on a large amount of weight?’” Russ remembers. “And that always appeals to me.” No kidding.
Crowe filmed this in just nine days, which could be why it’s a bit of a disappointment. He’s the bizarrely named Detective Cristofuoro, who investigates to find out if a volatile teen is the one responsible for the death of his family.
Crowe only took the role after it was expanded and he was given a voiceover narration. Probably wishes he hadn’t bothered now.
Little Or Large? Sort of in between, to be honest…
State Of Play (2009)
"I was not predisposed to do this film at all, in any way shape or form," says Crowe. "I was back in Australia. The sun was shining…” Then Brad Pitt dropped out of the film and Russ was sent the script.
“I have a rule that I've had ever since I was a kid: if I have a physical reaction, if I get goose-bumps, if a tear comes to my eye, then that's the project that I have to do. It's being respectful of the gods of film.” He made the film. It was rather good.
Little Or Large? You can hide behind those loose shirts all you want, we can see you’re not as slim as you once were, Russy…
Robin Hood (2010)
Yep, it’s R&R time again, as Ridley helms his version of the Robin Hood legend with his favourite Aussie in the lead role.
It’s opening this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and stars Cate Blanchett as Marian and Mark Strong as the villainous Godfrey. Read more about it here .
“The world doesn't need a mundane version of Robin Hood,” says Crowe. “If we're gonna do it, we've got to kick some serious butt.”
Little Or Large? Back to rude fitness for Hood, here.