Hollywood star Russell Crowe on his favourite spots in the Peak District

Russell receives the 2,404th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood

Russell receives the 2,404th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

He's visited some of the world's most exotic locations, but for Hollywood star Russell Crowe, there's nothing quite like the beauty of Derbyshire

Russell Crowe loves motorbikes and life in the fast line and has faced all kinds of dangers - as a ship's captain, a much-famed gladiator and even as a middle-aged outlaw to name but a few.  

So just why does this Hollywood A-lister enjoy peaceful Derbyshire so very much?  

‘Because it is peaceful and so very beautiful in many different ways,’ says the actor, who has visited the county numerous times and filmed here too. 

‘When you are filming on location you don't always get to see much of where you are, it could be almost anywhere.  

‘However, when I have been filming for a movie in Derbyshire I have always been fascinated by the county and made a conscious effort of seeing as much of it as time would allow.’ 

Russell Crowe needs no real introduction. Born in beautiful New Zealand and growing up mostly in Australia, he knows a thing or two about amazing surroundings and areas of outstanding beauty.  

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He has also starred in such blockbuster successes as Gladiator, Robin Hood, Master and Commander and the musical hit Les Miserables, but he also knows a thing or two about spectacular scenery. 

‘The Peak District is definitely very visually appealing,’ he adds.  

‘I would go as far as to say it is breath-taking. We shot some of Robin Hood by the River Dove and it was amazing to see the famous stepping stones. It is all so picturesque. I wanted to take in as much as I could so we travelled around a bit to see more of the area, fantastic.’ 

As a huge international star who has also directed and produced films, it’s great to hear Russell has such an affinity to Derbyshire, but surely he’d rather spend his time in Los Angeles – home to the stars – than our rural county? 

‘No way,’ says Russell emphatically. ‘You work in LA, you don’t live there. I wouldn’t move to LA for anything other than the need to survive if everywhere else was made impossible.  

Dovedale is one of Russell's favourite Peak District locations

Dovedale is one of Russell's favourite Peak District locations - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘I don’t like to live in a goldfish bowl the whole time. Quite the opposite, in fact, and that is why places like the Peak District are so appealing. It is not just the countryside but the people as well. 

‘Everyone is very friendly and respectful and they don't just stare at you as if you are something that has just landed.  

‘My experiences of the times I have spent in Derbyshire and the Peak District was that everyone treated you as a normal human being.  

As an example, a group of us went to a pub after filming one day in Ashbourne and, as I remember, it was called The Green Man.  

‘When we walked in we were greeted as if we were all locals and that was great, no awkward silence, we just mucked in and we were even taken behind the scenes to see the pub's micro-brewery, which was a fantastic experience and one I have never forgotten, even though it was a few years ago now.’ 

Russell recalls enjoying a pint with locals at the Green Man in Ashbourne

Russell recalls enjoying a pint with locals at the Green Man in Ashbourne - Credit: Gary Wallis

Russell Crowe is a very down-to-earth kind of bloke. It is hard to remember that he is so internationally famous and, of course, an Oscar winner. 

‘I don't honestly think about being a famous face,’ he reveals.  

‘I'm just Russell. I have quite a few famous friends. If I start to name them it will sound like I am name dropping but some of us are like-minded and we hang out together now and then.  

‘I am not into image making, I just enjoy being myself and my friends all feel the same way. We don’t try to impress each other with our work or successes; we are just mates. 

‘Winning an Oscar meant a lot to me but perhaps not for the reasons people might think. One of my proudest possessions is an MBE, which belonged to my grandfather. I always wanted something like that of my own.  

‘Winning an Oscar is not the same as showing bravery but it meant a great amount to me. Most actors are not truly confident that they are getting it right so when you get an award to tell you have got it exactly right that really means something.’ 

And through talking with Russell, who achieved his Academy Award for Best Actor for his gripping portrayal of Roman general Maximus in the epic historical drama Gladiator which grossed around £350 million at the box office, it is clear he has a burning passion for his art. 

Russell played the lead in the 2000 hit Gladiator

Russell played the lead in the 2000 hit Gladiator - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

‘I just enjoy my work and I often get asked if I have a favourite role. I find that a really tough question.   

‘The truth is I have enjoyed almost all of them. Gladiator was good for me of course but I also liked Master and Commander. I like anything in which I get the chance to really act. That is when I know I am doing my job properly. 

‘I also really enjoyed Robin Hood because it brought me to Derbyshire and introduced me to one of my favourite places on the whole planet. 

‘I have seen magnificent buildings, mountains, oceans, waterfalls and everything but the Peak District is right up there and you will have to go a very long way to find a building and grounds anywhere near as nice as Chatsworth House. It is magnificent.  

‘I made sure I had time to take a look at it and I was not disappointed, it is a fantastic place and I have told many people about it.’ 

Through roles such as Maximus in Gladiator, Russell Crowe has developed an international reputation in some quarters as something of a ‘hard man’.  

Given his obvious love of peace, tranquillity and stunning scenery that has clearly seen him take Derbyshire to his heart, it begs the question: Is this really the rough, tough Russell Crowe speaking?  

Russell describes Chatsworth as 'magnificent'

Russell describes Chatsworth as 'magnificent' - Credit: Gary Wallis

‘I might be a bit rough but not as tough as the movies make out, although at times it is great to have such an image,’ he laughs.  

‘I am an actor so if I think looking tough will keep people at bay then so be it, I’ll maybe scowl a little from time to time but the trouble is that when you have that kind of image and you are not really like that, you worry that you are not living up to people’s expectations. 

‘The truth is I'm not really like that, not at all - although, naturally, that's just my opinion,’ adds Russell – who is also a passionate sports fan and a cousin of former New Zealand cricket greats Martin and Jeff Crowe.  

‘I have my moments of course and they always hit the media if I get annoyed with someone or something but anyone who really knows me will tell you that I am just a fun guy really. I have a sense of humour which gets me into trouble sometimes but I don’t have a problem with that. 

‘I have a liking for art and other beautiful things and that's probably why I like Derbyshire so much - it is a place of beauty.

'You can't take it home with you but you can keep coming back to take another look. It's well worth the journey.’