Russell Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand on April 7, 1964. When he was a child, his family moved to Australia where he would grow up and still resides. He started out as a child actor on Australian television. His Australian movie debut came in Prisoners of the Sun in 1990. His next three films garnered him critical attention, as he earned an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Best Actor Nomination in 1990 for The Crossing. He followed that with AFI Best Actor Awards for Proof, which also starred Hugo Weaving of The Matrix fame and as a neo-Nazi skinhead in Romper Stomper in 1991 and 1992.
Crowe's performance in Romper Stomper gained him international attention and Sharon Stone decided that she wanted him in her movie, The Quick and the Dead, even postponing production until he was done filming the Australian film The Sum of Us. Crowe followed up with a leading role in No Way Back, a mostly forgettable Hollywood fair. His third film of 1995 was Virtuosity, in which he portrayed a psychopathic virtual serial killer opposite Denzel Washington.
In 1997, the ensemble film L.A. Confidential became the year's surprise hit and launched Crowe toward Hollywood superstardom. His next film Mystery, Alaska was a dud. He starred with Burt Reynolds as a small town Alaska sheriff in this Disney sports-themed comedy whose release was delayed for nearly a year. That delay was fortunate, because Crowe's other film of 1999, The Insider, hit theaters only weeks after and his growing 'bankability' was not hurt.
In The Insider Crowe portayed former tabacco company executive Jeffrey Wigand, who had famously gone to 60 Minutes to blow the whistle on the tobacco industry. On this film, Crowe got to work with Al Pacino, but it was Crowe who garnered the critical acclaim with his first Best Actor Oscar Nomination. He followed The Insider with a role that gave him a chance to work with Director Ridley Scott. The film was Gladiator, which became a summer blockbuster and earned Crowe his second consecutive Best Actor Oscar Nomination and his first win as the reluctant Roman general turned gladiator, Maximus.
Crowe next starred as a corporate hostage negotiator in Proof of Life. Unfortunately, that film made more news for what happened behind the scenes. A stunt double for costar David Morse was killed in a car crash en route to one of the film's remote locations in South American. The gossip columns had a field day with rumors of romance between Crowe and his costar Meg Ryan, especially after her marriage to Dennis Quaid ended not long after filming ended.