Upset he couldn't make a late-night call, Russell Crowe allegedly pitches a fit–and a phone

By People Staff
June 20, 2005 12:00 PM

Angry Actor On Line One


On June 3 Russell Crowe showed up six hours late for an interview session with foreign journalists in New York. “Well, I kind of needed to get my head into the right space to be able to communicate,” was the excuse he offered Sonia Kruger, a reporter for Australian television. She sensed he was lonely. “He was actually quite sensitive, and he talked a lot about [his son] Charlie and missing [his wife] Danielle and Charlie and how hard it was to be away from them,” she recalls. At about 4 a.m. on June 6, Crowe attempted to call his wife from his $3,000-a-night suite at New York’s posh Mercer Hotel. When the phone wouldn’t work, and getting no help from the desk, Crowe unplugged the phone, walked to the lobby and, according to police, hurled the phone and a metal plate toward desk clerk Nestor Estrada, causing a one-inch cut on the clerk’s cheek. Soon, police arrived and offered Crowe new accommodations. Although the 41-year-old actor is no stranger to flare-ups (see box), it was his first arrest in the U.S. After spending eight hours in custody, Crowe was released without bail and charged with second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon (the telephone). Crowe did not talk to the press, but his rep explained in a statement that the actor was “frustrated by a clerk’s unwillingness to help him put through a phone call to his family in Australia….After asking several times to replace a faulty phone in his room—and getting only attitude from the clerk on duty—Crowe brought the phone down in an effort to address the situation in person.” Unanswered question: Didn’t he have a global cell phone? Crowe, says a source, was “very cooperative” with authorities and admitted throwing the phone. Estrada, who was treated and released from a nearby hospital following the incident, could not be reached; a Mercer Hotel rep had no comment.

Crowe is concerned about how this blow-up may affect his career. If found guilty, he could face jail time, though legal experts doubt it. “He was worried that the judge could revoke his visa,” says a police source. Crowe’s high-profile lawyer is Gerald Lefcourt, who has represented clients as diverse as Black Panthers and the late real estate mogul Harry Helmsley; his next court date is Sept. 14. “There’s no question he will appear to deal with this,” says Lefcourt. Adds Crowe’s rep: “He regrets that he lost his temper.”


JULY 2004

Crowe got into a fist—and biting—fight with his bodyguard on the Toronto set of Cinderella Man when his guard told him that talking to a female extra might be interpreted as flirting.


At a release party for Master and Commander Crowe got into a shouting match with a waitress who offered him a snack.


British police were called to a posh London restaurant after Crowe tussled with a fellow diner.


After winning a BAFTA award for A Beautiful Mind (right), Crowe shoved BBC producer Malcolm Gerrie and berated him for cutting his acceptance speech short.


Crowe got into a bar brawl in Australia, which was caught on tape.

  • Happy Anniversary: Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony
  • To mark their first anniversary June 5, Jennifer Lopez treated hubby Marc Anthony to a $5,000 shopping spree in Malibu at Lisa Kline Men. “She had so much fun dressing him up,” said an observer. Gifts included a $900 backpack, khaki pants and jewelry. “They were really laid-back, not all over each other, but just being a cute couple,” said the onlooker. Which, after the Bennifer media circus that surrounded Lopez’s engagement to Ben Affleck, typifies the low-key life the pair crave. There’s a new addition to the family—Lennox, a Mastiff puppy. But while Lopez remains busy (she’ll shoot the thriller Bordertown this month), “if her goal was to disappear, then it’s working,” says a source familiar with the star. “The press is less interested in her.”


A silver ring ($200) and a bracelet with sapphires ($2,320).

  • Simpsons Snubbed?
  • Lindsay Lohan may have taken her Mean Girls attitude offscreen. After winning two MTV Movie Awards June 4 for the teen comedy, Lohan hosted an exclusive party at L.A.’s Standard hotel. Banned from the bash, apparently, were Jessica and Ashlee Simpson. “Lindsay was like, ‘Hell, no! They’re not coming in,’ ” says a source at the party. Could a May 30 smooch between Ashlee and Lohan’s ex Wilmer Valderrama at Spider Club be blamed? “Lindsay has an issue with it even though she and Wilmer haven’t been together for months,” says a Lohan pal. (Valderrama’s rep says they are “friends.”) Jessica Simpson denies a rift. “I guess people got tired of making up stories about me and Nick and decided to create some other kind of drama,” she says.

Purloined Potter

J.K. Rowling’s upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is stirring up adventure beyond its pages. On June 3 the British tabloid The Sunwas told it could obtain a stolen copy of the book—not due out until July 16—for $90,000. When a Sun reporter tried to grab the book at a British flat and leave without paying, a scuffle ensued and a shot was fired. No one was hurt, and two would-be sellers were arrested. The book is being held under lock and key as evidence.


On May 18, Barbara Walters said on The View that sitting in the same row as a nursing mother on a plane made her uncomfortable. The response? Nearly 200 women, called lactivists, staged a “nurse-in” in front of ABC’s Manhattan headquarters June 6 to support breast-feeding in public. (Says La Leche League spokeswoman Mary Lofton: “It’s always appropriate ate to feed your baby when your baby is hungry.”) Has Walters reconsidered? “Nobody here is against breast-feeding,” she says, adding that her words were misunderstood. On June 7 Walters took the public nursing defense to a new level. Asked by cohost Joy Behar if she would breast-feed a monkey, Walters responded, “If it were an adorable little monkey and I loved it, I probably would.”

Petra’s Return to Thailand

Supermodel Petra Nemcova returned to Thailand recently to thank the medical staff at the hospital where she spent two weeks recuperating from the broken pelvis she suffered during December’s deadly tsunami. Her boyfriend, British photographer Simon Atlee, perished in the devastating waves, and his body wasn’t found until March. Nemcova now plans to raise money for the survivors and says the tsunami is always on her mind. A fellow survivor gave the Czech beauty, on the way to the hospital, a necklace with an amulet. “I have worn it till this day,” she said.

heart monitor


The actor and the Hawaiian model-turned-Fear Factor-star have quietly been dating since August.


She calls her Australian beau, a musician and student she met at an airport, an “academic.” Other praise: “He’s not famous, but he’s amazing.”


Britain’s Mail on Sunday reports the cult film director got down on his knees in Times Square to propose to the English actress.


Last month Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney

surprised everyone with their sudden marriage. Last week Zellweger’s ex, White Stripes guitarist Jack White, followed suit, marrying British model Karen Elson in a canoe in Brazil’s Amazon basin after a brief courtship. To some, the speedy nuptials—just days before the release of the Stripes’ new CD—suggested a publicity stunt. Skeptics point out that White has at times said that the band’s drummer Meg White—the maid of honor—was his sister, while printed reports say she’s his ex-wife (his rep says she’s his sister). His family members say White’s marriage to Elson is legit.


Beauty and the Geek‘s

Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher, the TV mogul (MTV’s Punk’d), just helped launch Beauty and the Geek, a WB reality series pairing attractive women with nerdy guys for a series of challenges. Scoop spoke with Kutcher, 27, about the project.

Is the show mean?

We have no malicious intention whatsoever. We’re not out to make anyone look like anything that they’re not.

What are you aiming for?

Ultimately, all that matters is that people are seen as people. That plays into the final challenge, which involves what [the contestants are] learning about each other. It’s interesting: We found after two episodes that the girls really caught on to the game much faster than the guys.

How did you pick the women?

We asked a series of questions, and the people who came up with the most entertaining answers got on the show. Like, “How much is a silver dollar worth?” “Fifty cents.”

Do you prefer producing or acting?

Producing is a backup career. I’m constantly certain that I’m going to fail as an actor, so I better have something else to do.

Are you satisfied with the film roles you’re offered?

No, never. The things that you get offered are not the things that you necessarily want to do. I’ve got to go fight for the ones that I want to do, but I like that position. I have ownership when I finally get a role.

How do you feel about leaving That ’70s Show?

If I don’t step outside of my comfort zone, there’s no room for me to grow. Stepping away from the show is stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Were you ever a geek?

I still am.



PRICE: $10.4 million

PLACE: Miami Beach

Heartthrob Ricky Martin sold this 1937, six-bedroom Mediterranean villa last month, four years after buying it for $6.4 million. He said adios to a recording studio, a media den with a drop-down screen, a pool and a dock on 120 feet of waterfront. Martin will continue to live la vida luxurious at a mansion in the same neighborhood.