Russell Crowe has been hard to miss since breaking out as the tough-yet-likable Bud White in 1997's "L.A. Confidential."
In the years following, the international star has racked up countless achievements, most notably his Oscar-winning performance in Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" (2000), and has cemented his status as one of Hollywood's top leading men. The actor steps back into antiquity again this Friday, as he teams up with Darren Aronofsky to portray Biblical patriarch Noah in, well, "Noah," a film already shrouded in controversy.
From his days as "Russ le Roq," to his jaw-dropping smoking habits, here are 19 things you probably don't know about Russell Crowe.
1. Contrary to popular belief, the actor was born in New Zealand, not Australia. Crowe did move to Australia as a young boy, however.
2. Both of his parents were movie-set caterers, and his father also managed a hotel. Crowe's maternal grandfather was a cinematographer, who received a British Honours medal (MBE) for filming footage of World War II.
3. Crowe was proudly wearing his grandfather's MBE medal during his Best Actor acceptance speech in 2001.
4. Crowe and some friends took a several-thousand-mile motorcycle trip around Australia after shooting wrapped on "Gladiator" (2000).
5. Crowe turned down the part of Wolverine in "X-Men" (2000), a role that eventually went to Australian Hugh Jackman.
6. The actor's on and off relationship with Australian actress and singer Danielle Spencer began in 1989, when the two co-starred in "The Crossing" (1990). After reconciling in 2001, the couple married in 2003 at Crowe's property in New South Wales. In Fall 2012, it was reported that Crowe and Spencer had separated.
7. Crowe has a special love of horses, which he says are just like people, and often has a difficult time parting from his horse "co-stars" when shooting finishes.
8. He lost a front tooth playing rugby when he was 10. It wasn't until he was set to star in "The Crossing" that the actor fixed the tooth and, even then, only at the urging of the director who personally took care of the cost.
9. He was the target of an Al-Qaeda plot. In 2005, Crowe revealed that the FBI talked to him when he arrived in Los Angeles for the 2001 Academy Awards. Apparently, the Bureau had overheard Al-Qaeda members talk about Crowe in relation to taking out iconographic Americans. After the incident, US Secret Service agents guarded the actor for several months.
10. During a brief hiatus from smoking, the actor admitted to David Letterman that he started smoking when he was 10 and had smoked more than 60 cigarettes a day for the past 36 years of his life. Yikes.
11. Crowe and businessman Peter Holmes à Court are the majority owners of the National Rugby League team the South Sydney Rabbitohs after buying $3 million worth of shares in 2006.
12. In June 2005, Crowe was arrested and charged with second-degree assault after throwing a telephone at a Mercer Hotel employee in New York City. The actor pleaded guilty and was conditionally discharged.
13. In the 1980s, the actor recorded a song titled "I Want To Be Like Marlon Brando." Crowe performed the song under the name "Russ le Roq," complete with a large pompadour hairdo. I'd pay good money to see that.
14. Crowe is the cousin of Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe, former New Zealand national cricket captains.
15. The actor was nominated for three straight Best Actor Oscars from 2000-2002 for "The Insider," "Gladiator," and "A Beautiful Mind," respectively.
16. In 2001, Crowe's band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, performed on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." The band formed in 1992 and had a sold-out US tour in 2001, but the group has since dissolved.
17. The actor reportedly plans to donate his brain to medical science when he passes away.
18. Crowe was offered the role of Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and was intrigued to film a movie in his native country, New Zealand, for an extended time. He had to turn down the role, however, because it conflicted with "A Beautiful Mind."
19. To mentally prepare himself for his role as Bud White in "L.A. Confidential" (1997), Crowe lived in a tiny apartment where he could barely fit through the doors. His character is the largest cop on the police force, and Crowe isn't even six feet tall, so the actor said the small quarters made him feel like a giant when he arrived on set.
[Sources: Wikipedia, IMDb]