Russell Crowe

The burly Kiwi's family relocated to Sydney, Australia four years after he was born and raised with his elder brother Terry.

His parents' work in film set catering led to a natural interest in film work and Crowe found himself surrounded by actors from a very early age. The acting bug developed quickly and by the time he was six he'd bagged his first line of dialogue in the Aussie TV series 'Spyforce', which kick-started the determination to make himself a household name.

Crowe's views on his early acting days were: "I was never a child star - I was a child extra. My parents were location caterers, so I was the annoying little kid on the set."

Fancying himself as a bit of a musician, 16-year-old Crowe reinvented himself as 'Russ Le Roc', forming a rock group called Roman Antix in his spare time. 'I Want To Be Like Marlon Brando' was the title of the 1980 single Russ Le Roc recorded as a solo artist, (before forming Roman Antix), which eventually became the band 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts - the group he still plays in today.

Turning back to acting, fleeting thoughts of enrolling at the National Institute of Dramatic Art were abolished after seeking the advice of its head of technical support who told him: "It'd be a waste of your time. 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". So with his former acting experience behind him, he combined his musical skills to tour Australia in 'The Rocky Horror Show'.

By 25, Crowe had managed to gain small acclaim in the Australian films 'Prisoners of The Sun' (1990) and 'The Crossing', (also starring future wife Danielle Spencer, 1990) - which earned him his first award nomination from the Australian Film Institute for Actor of the Year, eventually winning the AFI Best Supporting Actor award for his role in 'Proof' (1991).

He finally caught the international critics' attention playing a neo-Nazi skinhead in 1993's controversial 'Romper Stomper'. Crowe dusted down the mantelpiece to make way for another AFI Award, this time for Best Actor. Not only did the part hurtle him into the ‘Best Actor’ lists but his performance impressed fellow thespian Sharon Stone enough to cast him in her production of 'The Quick and the Dead', a notable box-office flop yet an important catapult in spreading the Crowe hype in the United States. Following the small-scale American success of 'The Quick and the Dead', gossip soon spread that several A-list directors such as Ridley Scott and Michael Mann wasted no time in putting Crowe into their little black books for future projects.

Finally, the world had sat up and taken note of Crowe, setting in motion the meteoric rise in his career to the Oscar winning-heights he may only have dreamed of way back in the 'Spyforce' days. With America cracked, the casting doors began to fly open. Next came the sci-fi film 'Virtuosity' in 1995, playing a virtual serial killer opposite Denzel Washington, which was followed in 1997 by the acclaimed 'L.A Confidential'. '

'L.A Confidential' was an international hit, winning two Oscars (Best Actress for Kim Basinger and Best Screenplay) and gaining Crowe the worldwide fan base he'd long deserved. In preparation for his part as the racist thug Bud White, Crowe pumped some serious iron at the gym to gain the ideal physique for Bud's character, even suggesting that his suits be made one size too small to make Bud appear even more macho.

As a break away from playing the tough men, Crowe was signed to play a sheriff in the Disney film 'Mystery, Alaska' in 1999, learning to ice skate especially for the part. He followed this with a portrayal of real-life whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand in the drama 'The Insider', a part that earned him his first Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor.

You'd have had to have spent the year 2000 locked in a nuclear bunker to have missed Crowe’s performance as Maximus in the Oscar explosive 'Gladiator'. He had begun shooting for the film only a few months after wrapping on 'The Insider' but managed to shift the 40 pounds of extra weight he’d gained in time to play the svelte Roman. He may have had broken bones in his foot and his hip during the shoot but the hard work and multiple injuries paid off when he was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor.

Interest in his personal-life rather than his acting talents hit the headlines later that year when he set tongues wagging over his relationship with 'Proof of Life' co-star Meg Ryan. Due to the impact of Gladiator, Crowe was no longer the anonymous Aussie actor he'd previously thrived on and his private life was suddenly up for grabs.

Crowe's role as schizophrenic mathematician John Nash in 'A Beautiful Mind' secured him a record Oscar nomination hat trick in 2001. He missed out on the gong but made history by being nominated three years in a row.

Sticking with his tried and tested work pals, he continued his on-screen relations with his 'Beautiful Mind' co-star Paul Bettany on 'Master and Commander: Far Side of The World' in 2003 and was later reunited with 'Beautiful Mind' director, Ron Howard in 'Cinderella Man' (2005).

Playing the role of comeback boxer Jim Braddock, 'Cinderella Man' was widely tipped to be another Oscar nod for Crowe after notching a Best Actor nomination at the Golden Globes the same year, but the gossips were wrong and Crowe was overlooked for 2006's line-up. 'A Good Year', a British romantic comedy set in London and Provence and co-starring Marion Cotillard, was also released in the same year, but did not attract any awards.

Crowe went on to step into the American west with 2007 film '3:10 to Yuma', a remake of a 1957 movie with a similar title. Co-starring Christian Bale, the movie received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and received mostly positive reviews.

Further recognition came in the same year when another Screen Actors Guild Award for the cast of 'American Gangster' came Crowe's way. His portrayal of real life former detective Richie Roberts in the film directed by Ridley Scott also earned him a nomination for the Australian Film Institute Award for Best International Actor. As well as receiving positive reviews, the film was a commercial success.

Next came 2008 movies 'Tenderness', a crime film, and 'Body of Lies', which saw Crowe and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio play the characters of CIA operatives on the trail of a fictional jihadist terrorist. 'State of Play' (2009) was a political thriller and earned Crowe an Australian Film Institute Award for Best International Actor, while 2010's 'Robin Hood' led to a nomination for a Teen Choice Award for Action Adventure Actor. The same year also saw the release of thriller film 'The Next Three Days'.

His latest high-profile roles include 'Les Miserables' (2012), 'Man Of Steel' (2013) and 'Noah' (2014).

Crowe has also added director to his CV by converting the Australian book, 'The Long Green Shore' to the big screens.