1. Noah in “Noah” (2014) – I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t comment, but the preview looks crazy and Emma Watson is in it (so hot). I cannot wait to see Russell build the ark and save all the animals (except the unicorn, damn it).
2. Maximus Decimus Meridius in “Gladiator” (2000) – If this isn’t one of your favorite movies, we probably wouldn’t be friends. Any man who is both wise and humble enough to reject being emperor in favor of going home to the family farm… well that’s just the stuff of legends.
3. John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) – So he went from Gladiator, hubris-lacking champion of the universe to an insane genius. That is quite the role switch, one that Russell pulls off seamlessly.
4. Captain Jack Aubrey in “Master and Commander” (2003) – One of my personal favorites, perhaps this gave him some background for Noah with all that wave crashing, etc. He played the great captain with serious panache, class, and a freaking ponytail. He was close to being out-acted by the ever-great Paul Bettany as Darwin, though.
5. Robin Longstride in “Robin Hood” (2010) – I love this movie. SO. Much. He was just so surprisingly perfect as Robin Hood. He starts as kinda smarmy, but ends up being almost as great a hero as Maximus. On a scale of 1 to epic, this one is an 11.
6. Jor-El in “Man of Steel” (2013) – As a huuuuuuuuge comic reader and fan, I’m going to say that Snyder’s realization of Krypton was only second in mind-blowing awesomeness to Russell as Jor-El. He was perfect. He actually kind of made Henry Cavill look like a pansy, and made me buy into that age old “father becomes the son” chanting, and that Kal-El needs to rise to become Jor-El. You just can’t beat him. You think he has played the most epic of roles, and then you turn around and he’s Jor-El. Keep em coming, Russ.
7. Javert in “Les Miserables” (2013) – Initially, not my fave, but by the scene on the bridge, my heart ached for him, and it’s not just because Les Mis is a heart ache in and of itself. Not only did he sing masterfully, Russell brought out raw emotion and made it possible to sympathize with Javert, this lawman who was only seeking to do his job. Maybe not epic in a fight-scene, Krypton, sword-clashing way, but it proved Russell has the chops to play a formidable and sympathetic foe. More than once, I found myself rooting for Javert.
8. Pearly Soames in “Winter’s Tale” (2014) – This film itself is beyond epic, and will make you feel all the feels in the universe, but it’s actually a new turn in epic roles for Russell in that he is the most terrifying villain maybe ever. He was terrifying. I read the book so I knew who Pearly was going in, and he still scared the piss out of me. Russell Crowe can play one hell of a demon, which isn’t his usual suit. Not to mention, his Irish accent was phenomenal. This film is a must-see, if only for you to see and believe that this man can play a monster. I mean, he’s intentionally trying to thwart love and goodness for gods sake!
9. Honorable mentions: 3:10 to Yuma, Cinderella Man, & American Gangster are some other greats.
So thank you, Russell Crowe, for never letting us down in these most epic of roles. He has proven that he can do it all; Biblical hero, gladiator, steal from the rich and give to the poor, captain a ship, report to Lucifer, and be father to one of the most American symbols of strength. He’s an incredible actor and I personally appreciate how much “epic” he brings to the screen and the world, and no one can quite swing it all like he can. It’s too often that we don’t thank and appreciate great actors while they’re still alive, practicing their craft and making great films. So here’s to you, Russell Crowe. Now I hope you surprise me and somehow save the unicorns from the flood. That would be truly… well, epic.