Russell Crowe Explains All of His On-Set Injuries From Gladiator to Mystery, Alaska

Russell Crowe, survivor. Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images

For all of the attendant excitement of starring in a big-budget action film, there’s the possibility of, well, getting hurt. That has been especially true for Russell Crowe, star of such bone-crunching films as Gladiator, Robin Hood, and Cinderella Man. “When you see the film and there’s the take up on the screen, the other 19 where the horse ran you over or the guy smacked you in the head or whatever are not in the movie,” Crowe told Vulture at a Peggy Siegal–hosted screening of his new film with Ryan Gosling, The Nice Guys. And what are all of those ways he’s abused his body in the name of cinema, you ask? Behold, an itemized list of Crowe’s movie-related injuries and how he got them:

He doesn’t have cartilage in his toes.
“Well, the cartilage [missing] in the toes is really all about the lateral movement you do in fight sequences,” explained Crowe, who played heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock in the Ron Howard film, Cinderella Man. “And sometimes you have to stop abruptly, because if you don’t, either you stop or you die. You get run over or something. So that’s where that one comes from.”

He has grade four tears in both Achilles tendons.
Crowe said the tears in his Achilles tendons started back in 1999 because of David E. Kelley’s hockey dramedy, Mystery, Alaska. “I was wearing ice skates 12, 14 hours a day and my feet just didn’t grow up that way,” said Crowe. “But it also relates to the first period in Gladiator where the costume designer decided that nobody was allowed to have any heels in their shoes because she couldn’t see any evidence of shoes in the pictures that she had from the period.” Crowe explains that the problem just got worse over time. “So yeah, those two things begin the problem, but it probably gets fully up to grade four by the time I’m doing Cinderella Man.”

He has a disintegrating hip and bone marrow edemas in his knees.
“The disintegrating hip goes back to a fall that I had on Gladiator,” said Crowe. “The edemas come from an injury I got jumping off of a portcullis in Robin Hood, where they were supposed to prep the ground. It’s a 14-foot jump, but I don’t have the flexibility in my Achilles anymore to actually absorb the hit, so I have to hit flat-footed, and they didn’t prep the ground. So I hit flat-footed on rock-solid dirt. It was terrible.”

He has had two operations on his left shoulder. 
“The first operation was something that happened in pre-production on a film I didn’t end up doing, but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back really,” said Crowe. “I was doing a thing where I was lifting a girl up doing some gymnastics stuff, and I was listening to the trainer talking and I had my hands up where she was supposed to put her feet, but I wasn’t ready and she stepped on my arms both at the same time and pulled and just tore the labrum tissue.”  

Crowe continued, “The second time I injured it was on pre-production on Cinderella Man, when I was in the middle of an actual boxing fight and this Canadian former-Olympic-level boxer took my elbow out which subluxated my shoulder, which exacerbated a problem that was already there.”

So there you have it: Russell Crowe, still standing somehow.