What's Russell Worth?

04/09/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

Remember Russell Crowe's sour reaction to Steve Martin's jokes at the Oscars? Well, the best actor's surly attitude may cost him money when it comes to setting his movie fee, reports the Wall Street Journal. Even with his win for "Gladiator," says the paper, Crowe, 37, may have a hard time entering the elite $20-million-per-picture club, already occupied by such friendly film folk as Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise . . . all of whom smile for fans, appear on talk shows and sign autographs. The Aussie actor, meanwhile, reportedly flipped the bird to a student at Princeton while on campus to film a scene for his current movie, "A Beautiful Mind," for which Crowe is receiving $15 million. (The picture's director, Ron Howard, confirmed that his leading man made the hand gesture, but termed it uncharacteristic.) The Journal, in its analysis of Crowe's future financial prospects, also suggests that the box office performance of his last film, "Proof of Life," was hurt because many ticket buyers found the off-screen romance between the picture's stars, Crowe and Meg Ryan, distasteful.

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