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Wanted: Russell Crowe

Ellen Costa | Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yes, Russell has returned. Fully recovered from his series of setbacks in recent years, Russell Crowe revisits the big screen in Lions Gate Films’ “3:10 to Yuma.”

Let’s go back about five years. Crowe stood among Hollywood’s greatest; he was coming off three consecutive Best Actor nominations, including his Oscar win for “Gladiator” in 2000. In “Gladiator,” Crowe played Maximus, who climbs up the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to retaliate against those who murdered his family and his emperor.

Russell Crowe found another great role in “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” where his coarse charm could shine. Here, Crowe played Lucky Jack, who mans the HMS Surprise on its mission to destroy a French privateer. In 2001, Crowe took on a very different in role in “A Beautiful Mind.” In the film, he played professor John Nash, a brilliant mathematician with schizophrenia, in an almost frighteningly convincing manner. Russell Crowe’s career seemed unstoppable. Great role after great role was falling into his hands, and in each role he succeeded tremendously. Then the tides began to turn.

In 2005, Russell Crowe starred as boxer Jim Braddock in “Cinderella Man.” The film received excellent reviews but completely bombed in theaters. Last year, Crowe starred in the romantic comedy “A Good Year.” It was anything but good.

Crowe is not known for a lovable personality – quite the opposite. Two incidents tainted the actor’s reputation. First, there was the quarrel with a producer after the BAFTA Awards in London. BBC had cut out a portion of his acceptance speech, and Crowe was not pleased. “In the moment,” he told media outlets, “I’m a very passionate man.”

But that was not the end of the violent allegations against Crowe. In June 2005, Crowe was arrested for chucking a cell phone at a hotel employee’s face. The hotel employee needed facial surgery. Though Crowe publicly apologized and paid his dues, this widely covered story still follows his name.

Somewhere between great films, lousy films and violent disputes, he found time to join a rock band. He is the lead singer and guitarist for the Australian band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. Though the band has a primarily Australian fan base, its music is available online, and it plans to continue releasing albums.

Crowe’s career is looking up. Coming off a great job in “3:10 To Yuma,” Crowe has four movies set to be released over the next two years, according to IMDb. Perhaps most anticipated is Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster,” a film about a drug lord who uses the coffins of deceased American soldiers in the Vietnam War to smuggle heroin into Harlem. Crowe, who plays Detective Richie Roberts, stars along with Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Despite the obvious ups and downs of Russell Crowe’s career, his inexhaustibly gruff handsomeness and charm will always allow him to remain a key player in Hollywood. And with better films falling into his hands – like the now-playing “3:10 to Yuma” – we will surely be able to go back to enjoying the acting we loved in “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind” once more.