‘Bonkers’ donation: Long-time benefactor, film star Russell Crowe, just keeps on giving

Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe has done it again.

Just when we thought the Gladiator star was distracted by the post-production and promotion of his three latest films or prepping for a masterclass to young filmmakers at Rome’s Auditorium della Conciliazione this weekend, Crowe proved he has still got a beautiful mind for others.

Alerted on social media of a crowdfunding appeal by the struggling owners of British children’s bookshop, Bookbugs and Dragon Tales in Norwich, a donation suddenly appeared in the name of Russell Ira Crowe.

Hours after the launch, as dozens of £5 ($8.80) and £10 ($17.60) donations appeared, a pledge of £5000 ($8818) from the star and producer of the 2010 blockbuster Robin Hood appeared.

The overwhelmed and grateful owner Leanne Fridd told the BBC: “One of our daughters had to go to work early the next day, and she woke up to us chanting ‘Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe’.

“It’s bonkers. It’s going to have a huge impact.

“I have heard that this is what he is like – he is really supportive and just wants to make a difference.

“Every donation makes us really hopeful for the future and the message is really clear – we are valued – and to have a celebrity has added that bit of sparkle.”

After exceeding the £15,000 ($23,930) request – the crowdfunding page clocked in at £20,383 ($32,520) on Tuesday – Ms Fridd plans to use the money to boost the shop’s Reader Awards, offer subsidised places in classes and workshops, and deliver more free outreach activities to the city of Norwich.

Not the first time he’s taken on ‘godfather’ duties

In recent years, Crowe has hit the headlines for similar acts of kindness, donating to a young star desperate to pay drama college bills, through to restaurants, charities, zoos, frontline emergency services and even a Celebrity Apprentice buddy.

English stand-up comedian Ross Noble was one of last year’s contestants on the Nine show and was hoping to raise big bucks for the Red Cross.

He lost out in the June finale to interior designer Shaynna Blaze but told Sydney radio station Nova he got a big cash injection from his good friend Crowe.

“I’ll tell you what didn’t make the cut actually, which I should probably say: $10,000 of that money came from Russell … the money came from him,” he said.

“He’s an incredibly generous man who doesn’t necessarily shout about it.

“He helped me out a treat and he didn’t get the recognition he deserves, so I’m doing it now.”

Then there’s the Beirut front-of-house host of Le Chef, who opened his doors to diners after the business was blown away when an ammunitions storage facility exploded in the Lebanese capital in 2020.

“I would like to say thank you to our godfather Russell Crowe,” he told reporters, after Crowe donated £3830 in memory of Anthony Bourdain, who featured the restaurant in his Parts Unknown documentary series.

North Yorkshire student Harry Pritchard was also a recipient of Crowe’s kindness.

Pritchard was desperate to go to drama college but couldn’t afford the £14,000 ($22,330) tuition fees, so he set up a GoFundMe page to get him there.

Within days of the page going live, it happened again.

Pritchard was offered a place at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art after Crowe donated £2741 ($4373) to cover the deposit of course fees, which attract no government funding.

“I started to put it out on Twitter, hoping somebody would see it and retweet it … it got a bit of buzz, then all of a sudden I see a tweet tagging Russell Crowe… I couldn’t believe it,” he told the BBC.

russell crowe cap bushfires

Crowe with neighbours after the Nana Glen bushfires. Photo: Twitter/Russell Crowe

Closer to home, Crowe put one of his much-loved Rabbitohs caps up for auction on Twitter to raise money for the NSW Rural Fire Service after deadly bushfires in 2019 affected his 400-hectare Nana Glen home near Coffs Harbour.

Crowe matched a $100,000 donation from Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, which was quickly followed by another $100,000 from Atlassian’s other co-founder, Scott Farquhar.

All up the soiled cap, found while cleaning up Crowe’s property, fetched $400,000 for RFS stations across the state.

Good work, Rusty.

And let’s not forget his old conservation friends at Australia Zoo.

Dubbed the “bird benefactor”, Crowe made a big difference to a small kookaburra after donating an undisclosed amount to the zoo’s charity Wildlife Warriors to purchase an endoscope.

Owner Terri Irwin later thanked Crowe, “for donating the funds to purchase this life-saving endoscope … Archie really appreciated it”.

Acts of kindness, even in divorce

Who could forget the Sotheby’s Australia auction in 2018 of Crowe’s extensive film memorabilia and personal treasures collected over the decades.

He dubbed his megabucks garage sale ‘The Art of Divorce’ after finalising his split from Danielle Spencer.

The auction raised more than $3.7 million, and Crowe’s charity of choice, the Australian Children’s Music Foundation was a recipient of funds raised from an earlier gala dinner.

Back to the big business of movie making, and Crowe is enjoying positive reviews of his Vietnam War biopic The Greatest Beer Run Ever and has just wrapped filming thriller The Pope’s Exorcist.

Filmed amid COVID-19 lockdowns in NSW last year, Crowe’s Poker Face is being shown as part of the Rome Film Festival’s independently run Alice in the City section.

And quite rightly, he will be a guest of honour.

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