Crowe apologizes for phone-toss incident. Maximus tells David Letterman he feels ''spectacularly stupid,'' while injured concierge talks to a lawyer
Russell Crowe
Credit: Russell Crowe: Louis Lanzano/AP

As Russell Crowe sat down for his Late Show interview on Wednesday, David Letterman made a point of removing the phone from his desk and carrying it offstage. Crowe grinned at the gag but said he’s taking seriously his bad behavior at New York’s Mercer Hotel on Monday, and he apologized for losing his temper and hurling a phone that struck and lacerated the face of concierge Nestor Estrada. ”This is possibly the most shameful situation I’ve ever gotten myself in in my life, and I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life,” said the Gladiator star, who has a well-documented reputation as an off-screen brawler. ”So to actually make a new number one is spectacularly stupid.” Of the tantrum that led to his arrest on an assault charge, he said, ”I’m extremely sorry for this whole incident and I regret everything that took place.”

Around 4 a.m. ET on Monday, Crowe had been trying to phone wife Danielle and son Charlie at home in Australia but couldn’t place a call. He brought the phone from his room to the Mercer’s front desk, leading to the confrontation with Estrada that ended with the actor throwing the phone. He said he’d had phone problems in nine rooms at the hotel over the course of seven days, but he blamed his actions on lack of sleep, jet lag (he’d just flown to England and back for a 20-hour trip to see a friend’s prizefight), and loneliness at being away from his wife and 17-month-old son. ”I’m just getting used to being a husband and a father away from home, and that’s a level of abject loneliness I’m not used to at all.” Asked if he had an anger problem, Crowe hesitated, then said, ”Yeah, I do.” Still, when asked how he would avoid losing his temper over a similar situation in the future, he joked, ”You switch to the Ritz-Carlton and you get a better telephone system.”

What was supposed to be a promotional tour for Crowe’s boxing movie Cinderella Man has turned into a contrition tour over the incident, for which he must return to court in September and which could lead to seven years in prison. In addition to Late Show, he’s taped an interview for MSNBC’s Hardball, to air Thursday, in which he adds a mea culpa for the unwanted media attention he’s forced on Estrada and his family. He also gave an interview to an Australian paper, the Daily Telegraph, in which he said he hadn’t been aiming at Estrada but had ”no excuses” for injuring him. ”I’m at the bottom of a well. I can’t communicate how dark my life is right now. I’m in a lot of trouble. I’ll do my best to solve the situation in an honorable way,” he said of his legal troubles. Worst of all, he said, he’s disappointed Danielle. ”I will spend the rest of my life if it takes it, trying to make it up with my wife.”

Talking to Letterman, Crowe apologized on the air to Estrada, adding, ”Hopefully at some stage, I’ll be able to apologize directly to Nestor but at the moment, he’s not answering his phone.” Maybe he’s afraid to go near a phone. Estrada, 28, showed the stitched-up cut below his right eye to a photographer from the New York Daily News, which published a photograph of the injured concierge’s face as he stood outside the office of his lawyer. Estrada did not discuss the incident, and his lawyer declined to comment.