'Gay' Russell Rides Into Controversy

by Darren Devlyn

Romper Stomper led to a run-in with the law and the versatile actor expects more misunderstanding with his new role. Russell Crowe, and AFI award-winner for his portrayal of a neo-Nazi skinhead in Romper Stomper, is set to tackle another contentious role. RC will play a homosexual in the new movie The Sum of Us. The script is based on the play by David Stephens and revolves around the relationship of a gay man and his father(to be played by Jack Thompson).

RC, who despises the way society judges people by their sexuality, believes many will assume he's gay when they see the film. But he's accustomed to dealing with such misguided reactions. When RC was making Romper Stomper, he had a serious run-in with the law. He was arrested, allegedly assaulted by the police and locked in a cell for four hours. He claims the altercation arose simply because he had a shaved head. RC, 29, also stars in the new Australian move, The Silver Brumby. And while his performance as a stockman who rides rugged high country trails in search of a magical horse is unlikely to cause much rancor, he insists the role is another radical departure from his own lifestyle.

'The truth is, I'm a product of urban decay,' he says laughing. 'I feel my background is an advantage in doing this films because it makes me appreciate how fulfilling such a life would have been...rather than spending my time in a pinball parlor as a kid.' Born in New Zealand, RC was six years old when he won his first acting role in the series Spyforce. His parents, Alex and Jocelyn, were film location caterers on the production. After school he was a disc jockey with ambitions. On releasing his second single, he came to Australia in 1986 and won a role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He went on to do TV roles (Brides of Christ) and film (Spotswood, Love in Limbo). With this background, it's not surprising RC had limited horseriding abilities. But by the time filming began on The Silver Brumby, he had improved.

'An experience I had as a kid helped me a bit with the riding,' RC admits. 'When I was young I was sent to a Christian youth camp. It was a ranch where we rode around on horses and sang songs in the praise of God, though IÕm not particularly religious. I told them(the producers of the film) I wanted to do all my own riding. For me to feel good about the role in 20 years' time then I feel you've got to do all the s@#$. It's a magical story. I'd love some 25-year-old to come up to me one day and say: 'I saw you in that film when I was kid.' I think kids will see it and be really taken by the film'.

TV Week, 9/25/93