Russell Crowe Recalls How He Made Sure His Dying Uncle Saw Gladiator Before Its Release

Russell Crowe was able to screen his Oscar-winning film Gladiator to his dying uncle before its release

Russell Crowe Gladiator - 2000
Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Photo: Jaap Buitendijk/Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

Before Russell Crowe's Gladiator made him a household name, one special person saw the actor star in the 2000 film.

Crowe, 56, opened up about showing the Ridley Scott-directed film to his uncle, New Zealand cricket player Dave Crowe, before his death in May 2000 at the age of 66.

In the film's 20th anniversary 4K/Blu-Ray release, Crowe tells the story during a Q&A included in the release's bonus features saying his uncle was his hero and calling him a "great man," according to CheatSheet.

"We got the opportunity, and Dreamworks did this actually because we were doing press stuff," Crowe said. "His daughter, Debbie, rang. She said, 'He's really, really sick.' New Zealand didn't release Gladiator 'til months later."

"I said if they would give me a print that I could screen for my uncle in New Zealand, then I would fly to Australia and do press in Australia," Crowe recalled at the time. "So we did the deal and Dreamworks and Universal got together and that's what we did."

Connie Nielsen - Gladiator
Connie Nielson and Russell Crowe in Gladiator. DreamWorks/ Everett

Dave got to experience the film before his death, with the actor saying, "I got to go to Auckland and he hadn't spent more than like an hour and a half or two hours awake for about 10 days by then."

"I got to go to Auckland and screen the film and he'd come to Malta while we were shooting so he had a real personal connection to it," Crowe said. "I got to screen the movie for him and he stayed awake like 14 hours that day. Everybody in the family was just amazed."

The Oscar winner also shared what his uncle thought of the film, saying, "To prove what a cheeky bastard he is, I'm sitting next to him, I'm telling him I love him and stuff. My grandmother's name is Lois. She died a long, long time ago. I'm sitting next to him and he goes, 'That was a good movie. I'm going to tell Lois. Do you know where she lives?' And I'm like, 'Oh!' I went to talk and he goes, 'No, I'll see her before you do.'"

"He was a cracker," Crowe said. "An absolute cracker."

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