On this day in 2001, A Beautiful Mind, starring the actor Russell Crowe as John Forbes Nash, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and mathematician who develops schizophrenia, opens in limited release in the U.S. Directed by Ron Howard and co-starring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Paul Bettany, A Beautiful Mind opened in wide release on January 4, 2002, and went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations, including Crowe’s third consecutive nomination for Best Actor, and collect four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Connelly). A Beautiful Mind, a critical and box-office success, was based on a best-selling 1998 biography of the same name by Sylvia Nasar that explored Nash’s personal and professional life, including his work at Princeton University, MIT, the RAND (Research and Development) Corporation and his struggle with mental illness.
Crowe was born on April 7, 1964, in Wellington, New Zealand, and raised in Australia. He first received acclaim for his performances in various Australian movies in the early 1990s before gaining notice in Hollywood with 1995’s The Quick and the Dead, co-starring Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman. Crowe received accolades for his performance as a volatile police officer in 1997’s L.A. Confidential, with Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger, and earned his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for 1999’s The Insider, in which he played the real-life research scientist Jeffrey Wigand, who became a whistle-blower and reported on the tobacco’s industry’s unethical business practices. The Insider, which co-starred Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer, collected seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. With his performance as the Roman hero Maximus in 2000’s big-budget epic Gladiator, Crowe become a Hollywood A-lister. and won his first Best Actor Oscar. Directed by Ridley Scott and co-starring Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen and Richard Harris, Gladiator received 12 Academy Award nominations and won five Oscars, including Best Picture.
Crowe’s next film, the forgettable Proof of Life (2000), generated most of its headlines over the actor’s on-set affair with co-star Meg Ryan, who was married at the time to Dennis Quaid. Following the success of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, Crowe starred in 2003’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. He went on to co-star with Renee Zellweger in 2005’s Cinderella Man, which reunited him with Gladiator director Ridley Scott. Among Crowe’s other recent credits are 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and American Gangster (2007), with Denzel Washington.
The talented Crowe is also known for his temper. In 2005, he was arrested and charged with second-degree assault after throwing a phone at a New York City hotel employee. Crowe later paid a fine to settle a civil lawsuit out of court.