‘Australian’ movie icon Russell Crowe says his efforts to become an Aussie citizen have been denied twice.
In an interview with the BBC’s Radio Times to promote the UK release of his much lauded Aussie film the Water Diviner, the 50 year old New Zealand born actor says he would dearly love to be naturalised as an Australian citizen, but obscure qualifying rules have prevented him from doing so.
“They changed the law for New Zealanders,” Crowe said.
“No matter how long you’d been in the country, if you weren’t in Australia for the majority of 2000 to 2002 — when I was particularly busy filming overseas — you can’t become a citizen.”
Most people in Australia and around the world think of the Oscar winning actor as a true blue, dinky-di, rough and tumble Aussie. But the fact is he was born in New Zealand and moved across the Tasman with his parents when he was 4 years old.
Despite growing up in Australia, residing in the country and even owning the current champion NRL team, Crowe is technically still a Kiwi.
He told Radio Times that he applied for Australian citizenship twice – in 2006 and 2013 – but was rejected on both occasions, despite being married to an Australian and being the father of Australian children.
According to current immigration law, for a Kiwi citizen to gain Australian citizenship they must have been in Australia on 26 February 2001, with a Special Class Visa (SCV) which allows New Zealanders to work in the country.
Alternatively, they must have spent at least 12 months in Australia on an SCV in the two years prior to that date.
It so happens that this period was probably the busiest and most important of Russell Crowe’s cinema career, when he spent most of his time living in the USA while filming his most celebrated roles in Gladiator, The Insider and A Beautiful Mind.
“I’ve been voted one of Australia’s 50 national treasures. I’ve even had my face on an Australian stamp, the only non-Australian to do so, apart from the Queen, of course. It’s so, so…unreasonable,” he told Radio Times.