Fatherhood has led australian actor Russell Crowe to turn his back on his hell-raising days as he seeks to be a good role model to his two sons, Charlie and Tennyson.
The old fashioned aussie is a hard-drinking, hard-playing sports fan and for the first decade of his career, Russell Crowe seemed determined to live up to that label.
In 1999, he was involved in a scuffle at the Plantation Hotel in Coffs Harbour on the Queensland coast, which was caught on security video. Two men were later acquitted of using the video in an attempt to blackmail Crowe.
Then when part of Crowe’s speech at the 2002 BAFTA awards was cut out to fit into the BBC’s delayed broadcast, he became involved in a heated argument with producer Malcolm Gerrie. The part cut was a poem in tribute to actor Richard Harris who was then terminally ill. Crowe later apologised, saying “What I said to him may have been a little bit more passionate than now, in the cold light of day, I would have liked it to have been.”
Later that year, Crowe was alleged to have been involved in a “brawl” inside trendy Japanese restaurant, Zuma, in London. The fight was broken up by British television actor Ross Kemp.
It’s fair to assume that drink had probably been taken on all of these occasions but he chances of any more incidents of this type are a lot lower nowadays. “The drinking thing has taken a different place in my life since I had kids,” Crowe admits. “There are a lot of things I don’t do anymore because it affects my level of patience.” The father of two adds, “I don’t want to be exasperated with these beautiful children.”
As well as cutting back on the booze, he’s kicked his smoking habit as he cleans up his act for his children’s sake.
“Do the maths – I have been smoking for 36 years, I would continuously lie to myself about how much I smoked. [I was] smoking 40 on an easy day, but on a day when I would be up at 4am and still up at midnight, then it was 60- plus and it just got to the point where my body was telling me I had to stop.
“The reality break was that my kids never saw me smoke and Charlie is a little older at six and is in that phase where he is sneaking up on me all the time. I was in my office… and I thought I heard my office door open and I looked around and couldn’t see anything, so I had my cigarette.
“Later on I leant over to put my cigarette out and he was lying between the couch and the table and he very definitely saw me having a smoke. And that was my very last one.”
Crowe also says his family – sons Charlie, Tennyson and wife Danielle – are his focus this year after spending much of 2009 overseas. “I’m trying to find as many different reasons as possible to stay in Australia,” he says. “It’s good to put some normal rhythm back into the kids’ lives.”
And Crowe clearly thinks there will be more on the way: “I want 17 or so kids. I say to my wife, “Imagine having a daughter! A little you running around!” She just smiles and nods and says “Yeah, yeah… no.” ”
The 44-year-old admits that, like any Dad, he finds difficulties explaining the difference between right and wrong to his four-year-old.
Speaking on US TV show “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, Russell revealed: “I said, “Bad boys become bad men, and you are going to be a good man Charlie Crowe. You’re a part of me, you’re from me, you are of me and you will be a good man.”
Crowe married his wife Danielle Spencer, a singer and actress on 7 April 2003, his 39th birthday. They met while filming The Crossing back in 1990. Previously the actor had been in a relationship with another of his co- stars, Meg Ryan. But Spencer doesn’t want to be seen as the reason for the new clean cut image.
“I don’t think I’ve tamed Russell, I just think there’s a natural progression when you become a parent – you’re relaxed and happier,” she says. “There’s a pretty big shift in your focus when you have children. You can’t be selfish any more. Having children is grounding and very humbling. But I’m the tough one with them – he’s the softie.”
Danielle also said they are committed to staying together as a family, which means that when Russell goes on location, so do she and the kids.
“Generally we try to stick together so there’s usually a period of the year where we might be away for three to four months. When we came over to the UK last summer for the filming of Robin Hood we put Charlie in a lovely school in Surrey. I worried about it being disruptive for him but he was fine.”
Mrs Crowe probably won’t have to worry about Russell wanting to spend much time away from their two homes in Australia, he has places in Sydney and Coffs Harbour, this coming winter (their summer) as he is a big cricket fan – Crowe played cricket in school and his cousins, Martin and Jeff, are both former New Zealand test skippers – and England will be Down Under contesting the Ashes from November through to January.