Cinema: The Star: Becoming The Insider

Time for a cigarette break, mate," says Russell Crowe, settling down with a pack of Benson & Hedges Milds to talk about his role in The Insider. Wait a minute. A cigarette break? Isn't Crowe playing Jeffrey Wigand, the tobacco-industry executive who blew the whistle on his bosses, helped spark a billion-dollar court battle, and now teaches the evils of cigarettes to kids? Crowe smiles apologetically. "I love irony, lovey," he says in his Aussie accent and lights up another cigarette.

Fact is, Crowe has been smoking--and acting--since childhood. At age six he did his first TV gig. His parents,...

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