Russell Crowe Visits Durham University

Oscar winner Russell Crowe has flown thousands of miles to give his first acting class to a group of students in Durham.

He fulfilled a long-standing promise to his friend Bill Bryson, the American author and chancellor of Durham University.

When Crowe heard Bryson was leaving his post this year he decided he had to make good on the promise.

The 47-year-old flew from LA to the UK to take the session which had been agreed over a Chinese meal in London's Dorchester hotel around five years ago.

Crowe led a session with members of Durham Student Theatre at St Chad's College, in the shadow of the city's majestic Norman cathedral.

Afterwards, Crowe, who won an Oscar in 2001 for the film Gladiator, admitted he had been "really nervous''.

He said: "I've never done this before, I called back on the things people said to me as a young actor.

We started off with a few games and went into a long session of interpretation. It was enjoyable, really nice.''

Invited members of the group revealed Crowe asked them to perform, and some ended up singing opera or trying out Australian and Chinese accents and making up a scene about an apple.

But the main message they received was to fall in love with acting, and face up to the fact that "99.9% of actors will be unemployed at any given time''.