Crowe, Spencer split amid actor's hectic filming schedule

Oscar-winner Russell Crowe has split from his wife of nine years, Danielle Spencer.

The actor and his musician wife have separated, with Crowe throwing himself into work as a result of the devastating break-up.

Crowe and Spencer have two children together, Charles and Tennyson, aged eight and six. The decision is said to have been amicable with Crowe and Spencer committed to protecting their boys at this tough time. Crowe is in the US filming the biblical epic Noah, while Spencer remains in Sydney with their sons.

The pair were married in a purpose-built chapel at Crowe's farm in Nana Glen, near Coffs Harbour in April, 2003. But they have been based in Sydney ever since.

They spent many years living in Woolloomooloo, with Crowe famously kayaking on the harbour nearby, but the family moved into a $10 million Rose Bay home at the start of this year after extensive renovations were completed.

Spencer, quiet and unassuming, was the woman who tamed the "Gladiator" with her calm and steady nature.

She has tried to pursue her own music career and was always matter-of-fact about Crowe's fame and fortune.

"All that stuff has nothing to do with me as a person," she has said.

The couple, considered one of the more solid partnerships in Australian showbiz, faced rumours about their relationship in June when Spencer was pictured on a night out with Damian Whitewood, her dance partner from Seven's Dancing With the Stars, at The Star casino in Sydney.

Crowe later met his wife at the airport, showing a rare display of affection in front of cameras by kissing her publicly. It was dubbed as "damage control" by some commentators.

Crowe had also surprised Spencer on the set of Dancing With the Stars earlier in the year, when he and his boys dressed in tuxedos to make an appearance on the show.

But apart from that – and his quick return trip home for the Souths rugby league semi-final - Crowe has been mostly overseas this year, working on films. Spencer has been in Australia, caring for her sons, who attend school in Sydney.

The actor has had one of the busiest periods of his filming career, though, making back-to-back movies overseas. He has seven films coming out in the next year: Man with the Iron Fist, Les Miserables, Broken City, Superman, Noah and his next project The Winter's Tale, with Colin Farrell and Will Smith.

Crowe and Spencer first met 22 years ago on the set of the film The Crossing. They enjoyed a relationship before splitting up when Crowe headed overseas to pursue fame.

Crowe had a much-publicised romance with actress Meg Ryan before returning to Australia and realising Spencer was the woman he wanted to marry.

Crowe proposed to Spencer in a Sydney restaurant in December 2002, after asking her father Don Spencer for permission to marry his daughter.

When the pair were married five months later, Crowe said he wasn't nervous about the ceremony because he was certain about his love for Spencer.

"I've been thinking about it for a long time so I don't have any second thoughts," he said. "The thought [of marrying her] crossed my mind the first time I met her."

Crowe said he and Spencer had a "deep respect" and "mutual understanding" for each other from the first time they met on set.

Spencer has long been a patient and calming influence on Crowe, who gained notoriety for a volatile temper after a phone-throwing incident seven years ago in New York, because he couldn't get through to his wife in Australia.

Spencer refused to mollycoddle her husband and said at the time: "I'm not condoning his behaviour. I don't want to make excuses for him, because I'm certainly not.

"But I do understand when you're apart the loneliness kicks in," she said.

As parents, both Crowe and Spencer have been committed to giving their sons as normal a childhood as possible, despite their father's worldwide fame.

Five years ago Crowe wrote a letter to his sons, as part of a National Trust time capsule, which said: "I know I will have brought you up to love your mother above all.

"You have no idea how much our lives have been blessed by you," Crowe wrote.

It is believed both Crowe and Spencer are determined to protect their sons' privacy, with both boys continuing to attend school in Sydney.

The Sydney Morning Herald tried to contact Crowe and Spencer for comment.

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