Russell Crowe’s Short Temper Once Landed Him With a Felony Charge

Everything that celebrities do grabs more attention than it would if someone who wasn’t famous did it. Throwing their friend a baby shower? That’s headline-worthy news. Breaking up with a significant other? Fans are going to be talking about it for months — sometimes years — to come. Basically, every decision a celebrity makes or action a celebrity takes becomes noteworthy, so you can imagine the drama when a star does something that’s actually out of the ordinary and headline-grabbing. 

That was the case when Russell Crowe’s hot temper landed him with a felony charge. 

Russell Crowe smiling in front of a white background
Russell Crowe | Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

Russell Crowe is a celebrated actor 

Born in New Zealand in 1964, Russell Crowe has earned his status as an A-lister with impressive acting roles over the years. According to Biography, he got his start on the stage, and a theatrical performance of Blood Brothers led to his first feature film when the production was brought to the big screen in 1990. It wouldn’t take long before Crowe’s breakthrough performances had his star on the rise. In Proof (1992), he portrayed a gentle dishwasher and earned himself an Australian Film Institute Award. The very next year, he once again earned recognition for a very different performance when he played a Nazi in Romper Stomper

Having shown his wide range of talents, Crowe made his American film debut in 1995, starring in The Quick and the Dead alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Sharon Stone. By 1997 — when he took on a part for L.A. Confidential — Crowe had officially gained the attention of American audiences. That status was solidified when his starring role in Gladiator in 2000 helped the film pick up several Oscars. Serious films with critical acclaim continued to punctuate Crowe’s career as he took on the main character in A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Cinderella Man (2005). Crowe has continued to put out steady, well-received work throughout his long tenure in Hollywood. 

Russell Crowe has a reputation for being hot headed

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Crowe may be a celebrated actor whose talents on the screen are undeniable, but he also has a reputation for being something of a loose cannon who has trouble controlling his temper. He’s certainly not the only Hollywood big shot who has trouble keeping a lid on his anger, but Crowe’s behavior runs the risk of upstaging his work. 

Crowe’s tendency to take things a little too far extends to his backstage demeanor. He’s earned a reputation as an actor who is difficult to work with, and stories about his time on the set of Gladiator have definitely provided a counterbalance to the praise he received for the final product. At one point, Crowe allegedly made a late-night phone call to the film’s producer and threatened to kill him with his bare hands if he didn’t take care of Crowe’s on-set demands. 

Russell Crowe was found guilty of assault

This reputation for hot-headedness boiled over in one particularly unpleasant incident. Reports of Crowe’s rowdy behavior dot his career, but in 2005, things got completely out of hand. After getting riled up in a hotel lobby — apparently frustrated with paparazzi — Crowe got into a heated dispute with the hotel clerk behind the desk and went so far as to throw a telephone when he could not get a call through to his wife. The clerk was injured by the thrown phone with a cut below his eye that required hospital treatment. 

As CBS News reports, Crowe called the incident “minor” and defended himself: “You’re a traveling man. You’ve been overseas a lot. Is there a place in your memory bank where you as a traveling businessman have lost your temper in the foyer of a hotel? I’m sure there is.”

The court didn’t see it that way, however, and Crowe eventually pled guilty to avoid a felony conviction. As The New York Times reports, Crowe’s guilty plea reduced the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, and the court looked at Crowe’s clean criminal history as a reason to let him off without having to serve any time — which could have been as much as seven years in prison.