Russell Crowe is arrested for assault. The ''Cinderella Man'' star allegedly threw a phone at a New York hotel employee, striking him in the face

By Gary Susman
June 06, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
Russell Crowe: Jennifer Graylock/AP

Maybe Russell Crowe was upset that Cinderella Man opened in a disappointing fourth place this weekend. Or maybe he’s having trouble abandoning his character, boxer Jim Braddock. Either way, he allowed his temper to flare into violence, according to New York City police, who arrested him early Monday morning on a second-degree assault charge. The arrest came, police told CNN, after the Gladiator star allegedly threw a phone at a hotel employee, with the phone striking the man in the face and sending him to the hospital.

A guest at the posh Mercer Hotel in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, Crowe was trying to make a phone call around 4:20 a.m. when the incident occurred, according to Sgt. Michael Wysokowski. ”He was upset because he couldn’t get a call out to Australia,” Sgt. Wysokowski told CNN. At that point, Crowe allegedly left his room and went to the front desk, where the confrontation with the concierge allegedly took place. ”He threw a phone at the employee, hitting him in the face and causing a minor laceration,” the sergeant said. The concierge was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he required stitches, People cites the police report as saying. Crowe was taken to a police station and charged.

At noon on Monday, Crowe was taken to Manhattan Criminal Court, where he was arraigned on charges of second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon (the telephone). He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on Sept. 14. If convicted on the assault charge, he could face four years in prison.

In a statement to the TV show Extra, Robin Baum, a publicist for Crowe, says: ”Frustrated by a clerk’s unwillingness to help him put through a phone call to his family in Australia, Russell Crowe was involved in a minor altercation at the Mercer Hotel earlier this morning. After asking the front desk several times to replace a faulty phone in his room — and getting only attitude from the clerk on duty — Crowe brought the phone down to the front desk in an effort to address the situation in person. Words were exchanged, and Crowe wound up throwing the phone against the wall. He regrets that he lost his temper, but at no time did he assault anyone or touch any hotel employee.”

Crowe’s history of off-screen tantrums is well-documented, but he said in an interview last week that playing a boxer has made him want to change his ways. ”During the course of this film, I learned why fighting is not a good thing,” he told London’s Daily Mirror. ”I don’t want to get myself into a violent situation ever again. I’ve seen its effect. I’ve felt its effect. What I took away from filming Cinderella Man is realizing that getting punched in the head is stupid. It’s not something I ever want to do again.” He also said, ”I am not going to live Jim Braddock for the rest of my life. The moment I walk off the set, it’s done.” Uh, maybe not.