My Name is CroweApril 15, 2014

Darren Aronoksky's "Noah" opened recently, a box-office hit for a filmmaker who have enjoyed critical success for years. It is his take on Noah's Ark, and for those who are familiar with his works, they can expect some madness. Russell Crowe played the titular role, and there was no other actor who could do what the role demanded.

"There were these rain towers in the sky that could flood eight football fields in 30 seconds, and it was constant rain. We had 36 days of it."

"It gets to the point where it’s like Chinese water torture. You can’t take it any more."

It's too early to tell if many will remember his performance during the end of the year, when the awards season begins. Crowe won an Academy Award in 2001 for his role as Maximus Decimus Meridius in Ridley Scott's "Gladiator". It was a belated recognition for the New Zealand-born actor, as he had a good career in Australia before Hollywood noticed him. His early films showed his incredible acting range, which could match the likes of Marlon Brando.

"Proof", released in 1991, was his third feature. It revolved around Martin, a mistrustful blind photographer, Cecilia, his love-hungry housekeeper, and Andy, a misguided dishwasher whom Martin befriended, and what happened when the three were under one roof. Andy was easygoing and honest, made appealing by Crowe's bloke-next-door charm. As Martin, Hugo Weaving was impressive, but the young Crowe easily stood out, showing what he was capable of. Those who followed him got a pleasant surprise, when "Romper Stomper" was released the following year. Geoffrey Wright took great pains in depicting the skinhead culture, which was interesting and disturbing. Crowe was Hando, leader of a neo-Nazi group in blue-collar suburban Melbourne. This was his finest hour, as his Hando was ruthless and relentless. But viewers were drawn to his cold-eyed glares. This was Crowe's fifth feature, which earned him a Best Actor Award from the Australian Film Institute.

Many Australian flicks that were shown during the 1990s were acclaimed, even raved after they were shown in other parts of the world. It was the Golden Age of Australian Cinema, as films like "Muriel's Wedding", "Strictly Ballroom", and "Babe: the Gallant Pig" would earn a following. This was the decade when Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, and Heath Ledger were lured by Hollywood. More followed, which would speak of the depth of talent in Australia. Crowe was one of those, but before making it big in America, he would demonstrate his versatility one more time, in "The Sum of Us", a father-and-son story that was tender and unusual.

His first features in Hollywood were universally praised. Curtis Hanson's “L.A. Confidential”. Michael Mann's “The Insider”, where Crowe's portrayal of Jeffrey Wigand earned him his first Oscar nomination. Ron Howard's “A Beautiful Mind”, where the Aussie earned another nomination for his role as John Nash. Peter Weir's adaptation of Patrick O'Brien's “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”. Expect more titles in the near future.

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