With his infamous phone-throwing episode behind him, Russell Crowe is ready to unleash hell—on the U.S. legal system.
In an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes airing Sunday, the Oscar winner opens up as never before about the June 2005 incident, for which he was arrested. He eventually pleaded guilty to assault charges for lobbing a phone at a Manhattan hotel concierge.
Crowe, 42, claims it would have been a vastly different story had the skirmish taken place Down Under.
"Your legal system is very open to misuse," the Gladiator star tells 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft. "Where I come from, a confrontation like that, as basic and simple as that, would have been satisfied with a handshake and an apology."
Crowe admits to the meltdown, which he blames on being unable to complete a call to his wife in Australia while doing publicity rounds for Cinderella Man. He says he "absolutely" regrets letting the Mercer Hotel desk clerk have it, calling the phone flinging an "unreasonable" response.
"Oh, hell, yeah, absolutely I have a temper. You got to have [a temper]," Crowe says during the sitdown. "You know what happens when you don't have one? One day, you're walking down the street, and you just pop. You're lying there on the pavement because you've been holding, suppressing all this bulls---."
The actor's lack of restraint ended up costing him both PR points and cold cash.
Following his arrest, Crowe was handcuffed and forced to do a perp walk through a horde of paparazzi on his way to the local police precinct—not the kind of prerelease buzz producers of the pugilistic feel-good flick were looking for.
Days later, he turned up on the Late Show with David Letterman and publicly apologized for the tantrum, calling it a "shameful situation"—which is something, considering Crowe's brawl-filled history.
Crowe headed off a lawsuit by forking over a reported $100,000 to the concierge, Nestor Estrada.
He also struck a deal with prosecutors—pleading guilty to third-degree assault, paying a small fine and agreeing to say out of trouble for a year—to avoid going to trial on the more serious charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon (i.e., the phone). If convicted on the original charges, Crowe could have been sentenced to a maximum seven years in prison and barred from working in the United States.
Crowe's family life has seemed to have mellowed him, and his career has suffered no long-term effects.
"There should be some understanding between me and the audience that...if I've [played the role], one, I've put a lot of effort into it. And two, there's something about it that'll touch their heart," he says of his art.
Crowe's latest flick, A Good Year, which reunites him with Gladiator director Ridley Scott, unspools on Nov. 10.