Maximum Russell Crowe

Love in Limbo: In Print

(Working title "The Great Pretender")

Extra-special mischief with superstar Russell
by Linda Steelyard
Leicestershire Mercury (March 2001)

He may be an Oscar-winner now, but 10 years ago Russell Crowe was a cheeky unknown with a taste for mischief.

His unpredictable antics kept film extra Angela Roberts in stitches when they made The Great Pretender together in 1991.

The New Zealander enjoyed bounding over during takes to peck her cheek ö something which would now make many women green with envy.

She had no idea the joker would eventually become one of the world's biggest movie stars.

Angela and husband Geoffrey, from Wigston, both appeared in The Great Pretender while they were living in Perth. She played Russell's mother.

The 55-year-old said: "Russell had the lead role, but was totally unknown.

"He was a great guy and made us laugh by acting silly and ad-libbing.

"In the middle of a scene he would spot someone and say ÎOh! You're in it too!', and he was supposed to fall in a bush in one scene but kept falling on us instead".

Now best known as the mighty Maximus in Gladiator, Russell's role in The Great Pretender was a far cry from his Oscar-winning portrayal of a vengeful former Roman general.

Crowe played a 21-year-old, raised by a strict Baptist family, exploring the forbidden world of drink and dancing.

Angela said: "During a party scene when I was playing his mother, I had to look very stern and keep my eye on him, but he kept running over between dances and kissing me. He wasn't supposed to.

"His antics were totally out of the blue.

"He was like that with everyone. It was all good fun, and he made the cast feel at ease."

Mr Roberts, 71, who appeared in the film as a party guest, said the couple had not yet seen Gladiator.

He added: "He was just a normal person.

"You wouldn't have thought he was a star in the making."

(Thanks to Frances)

Many faces of Crowe

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