Crowe is facing assault charges

Special to The Times

Getting locked up wasn’t supposed to be part of this Cinderella story.

Russell Crowe was arrested early Monday morning when he allegedly threw a telephone at an employee of the New York hotel where he was staying, police said. Led from the scene handcuffed and wearing a promotional jacket for his new film, “Cinderella Man,” the actor was booked on second-degree assault charges and arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court.

A publicist denies that Crowe assaulted anyone.

The Australian actor, who portrays a Depression-era heavyweight boxer in the Universal film, is accused of throwing a phone at a 28-year-old clerk working at SoHo’s trendy Mercer Hotel. The clerk was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he was treated for a cut on his cheek and later released. Crowe, 41, who won a best actor Oscar in 2001 for his performance in “Gladiator,” was brought to Manhattan’s 1st Precinct.

The incident occurred at 4:20 a.m. after Crowe grew frustrated about not being able to place a call to Australia, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said.


“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,” Crowe’s publicist Robin Baum said in a written statement. “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.”

A publicist for the Mercer Hotel declined to comment.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Australian actor, in New York for a spate of appearances to promote “Cinderella Man” this week, has publicly blown his top. In a widely reported incident in 2002, he pinned producer Malcolm Gerrie to the wall after Gerrie edited part of Crowe’s British Academy Film Awards acceptance speech out of a TV broadcast, reportedly threatening, “I’ll make sure you never work in Hollywood again.” (The actor later apologized, according to Gerrie.) Later that year, police detained Crowe after he allegedly scuffled with a businessman in a London restaurant. No charges were filed.

“Cinderella Man’s” director, Ron Howard, with whom the actor also collaborated on “A Beautiful Mind,” has said Crowe can be a mercurial presence. “Directing Russell is like shooting on a tropical island,” he was quoted as saying last month in Newsweek. “The weather is going to change several times a day, but you’re shooting there for a reason. Sometimes those dark clouds are just what you need. And sometimes ... you wish it would stop raining so you can do the sunny scene.”

The $88-million boxing film -- and Crowe’s performance in particular -- is already generating Oscar buzz. It took in $18.3 million its first weekend, slightly less than the studio had hoped.

A source close to the production said Crowe’s arrest would not alter his promotional schedule. The actor is due to appear on CBS’ “The Late Show With David Letterman” on Wednesday and NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” on Friday.

Crowe was released from Criminal Court on his own recognizance shortly after noon Monday and ordered to return to court Sept. 14, a representative of the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.