Russell Crowe's career was questioned when he decided to make Gladiator.

The New Zealand-born actor was landing small roles in Australia and Hollywood before finally breaking through in the mid ‘90s. It was his casting in L.A. Confidential that really got people talking, before he stunned in an Oscar-winning performance in 2000’s Gladiator. Not everyone thought the Roman epic would be a success though.

“It’s unbelievable the legs that film has,” he marvelled to America’s OK! magazine. “When I decided to make it, I was getting the death knell on a career that hadn’t even begun yet. I would be in meetings and people would be going, ‘That thing with (director) Ridley Scott… but, hey, L.A. Confidential, if a career has one movie like that you’ve got to think yourself lucky’. And it would be going through my mind, ‘They have no idea what they’re talking about’.

“I knew that with Ridley, every time we walked in to a quagmire, we worked it out. If anything smelled like s**t to us, we’d just look at each other and go, ‘Come on, that’s not good enough,’ and we’d keep going until we got it.”

The role was a career defining one, and cemented Russell’s status as leading man material. He has since gone on to star in countless box office draws, with the 52-year-old favouring dramatic movies. However in a change to the usual films he picks, Russell’s latest project is comedy The Nice Guys, opposite Ryan Gosling.

The Shane Black-directed feature tells the story of two unlikely private eyes, who team up in ‘70s California to solve a porn industry crime.

“If you take the 26 years of making lead roles in feature films prior to The Nice Guys, the amount of times I will have corpsed (laughed) on camera in that whole time, 49, 50 films, whatever, would be less than any given week making The Nice Guys,” he smiled to Cover Media.