With the impending release of the latest Robin Hood mash up, it seems about time to take a look at the current portrayer of the character and his career. Born in New Zealand but making a home for himself in Australia, it seemed only fitting that Russell Crowe would end up on one of two great Australian television institutions – Neighbours or Home & Away. He picked the former and the rest is history (though probably not far enough in the past for Crowe to be completely happy with it.)
In this, his fifth collaboration to date with Ridley Scott, Crowe plays Robin Longstride, an archer who assumes the role of Robert Loxley after he and King Richard are killed in France (pesky frogs!). In tandem with the worldwide release of the film Totally Dublin take a look at a few of the finer points of Crowe’s career, including rugby talk with Richard Harris. No, not really, but we did try…
Gladiator Crowe’s only Oscar so far, despite 3 nominations, and still his best collaboration with Scott, whose ability to film battle scenes is really quite extraordinary. It’s hard to believe this film is ten years old. From the beautifully filmed opening cornfield scenes to the gloriously menacing villainy of Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus, Gladiator portrays Crowe at his powerful best. And then of course, there’s the result of his “Unleash hell” line.
A Beautiful Mind The much under-loved biopic of Nobel Prize winner John Nash boasts probably the more Oscar-worthy performance of Crowe’s career (though one could argue that his role in The Insider was the best of the lot). Playing the paranoid schizophrenic Nash, Crowe excels as we see him descend deeper and deeper into the darker parts of his mind. He might possibly have won his second Oscar were it not for his outburst at the BAFTAs when he was cut off mid-speech.
LA Confidential One of Crowe’s earlier films before hitting stardom, he plays Bud White, a tough cop in 50s Los Angeles who falls for hooker Kim Basinger while trying to put aside his differences with Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) in order to uncover police corruption. A tight script oozing with 50s LA, the film weaves and twists to its conclusion, a neo-noir worthy of being mentioned a few breaths after that of Chinatown and the start of Crowe’s rise to fame.
State of Play A sceptical one this, the film is based on the BBC series of the same name which won every award it possibly could and one had to wonder how such a complex series would be done justice on the big screen. Originally a vehicle for Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, both actors pulled out leaving Crowe and Ben Affleck to step into the roles. Crowe plays Cal McCaffrey, a bit of a renegade journalist who’s overweight, drinks and smokes a bit too much and gets way in over his head when politician Affleck’s assistant is killed in unusual circumstances. Despite a good supporting cast (which included Helen Mirren) Crowe draws your attention from them every time he appears on screen.
Proof of Life Not the finest film ever made by anyone’s standards, but Crowe’s first film after Gladiator is actually quite watchable. Given a great boost at the time due to Crowe’s off-screen relationship with Meg Ryan. Remember the hype around Mr & Mrs Smith? Same thing applied here only in a smaller scale. As a hostage action thriller, it ticks all the boxes and is by no means outstanding. But Crowe gives another good, underwhelming performance on the back the powerhouse that was Gladiator. Cemented his ability as an action star.
Words: Anna Hayes