Though perhaps best-known internationally for playing tough-guy roles in Romper Stomper (1993), L.A. Confidential (1997), and Gladiator (2000), New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe has proven himself equally capable of playing gentler roles in films such as Proof (1991) and The Sum of Us (1992). No matter what kind of characters he plays, Crowe's weather-beaten handsomeness and gruff charisma combine to make him constantly watchable: his one-time Hollywood mentor Sharon Stone has called him "the sexiest guy working in movies today."
Born in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 7, 1964, Crowe was raised in Australia from the age of four. His parents made their living by catering movie shoots, and often brought Crowe with them to work; it was while hanging around the various sets that he developed a passion for acting. After making his professional debut in an episode of the television series Spyforce when he was six, Crowe took a 12-year break from professional acting, netting his next gig when he was 18. In film, he had his first major roles in such dramas as The Crossing (1990) and Jocelyn Moorhouse's widely praised Proof (1991) (for which he won an Australian Film Institute award). He then went on to gain international recognition for his intense, multi-layered portrayal of a Melbourne skinhead in Geoffrey Wright's controversial Romper Stomper (1992), winning another AFI award, as well as an Australian Film Critics award.