Melbourne: Danielle Spencer, who recently split from her husband of nine years, Russell Crowe, realised that they were vastly different people who wanted different things from life.
It seems the fabric of their celebrity union started fraying years earlier - perhaps 17 years earlier - when their first attempt at romance foundered after he packed his bags and quit Australia and her, for Hollywood, a leading daily has reported.
They parted as friends, they said at the time, yet her friends claimed Crowe had been “insensitive” to Spencer.
From the set of her soap Pacific Drive rumours circulated that they had been having rows.
With the success of 1992’s ‘Romper Stomper’ behind him, the determined and impatient Crowe struck out in search of fame, wealth and its considerable trappings - which would include romances with co-stars including Sharon Stone and Kim Basinger.
When the actor finally ricocheted back into Spencer’s life in 2001, his relationship with Meg Ryan, his ‘Proof Of Life’ co-star, was smouldering at his feet.
The actor, by then a two-time Oscar nominee, was suffering untold damage to his public image after being labelled the home-wrecker who ended Ryan’s 10-year marriage to actor Dennis Quaid.
What he needed was a public relations miracle to move on from the scandal that was engulfing him.
What he got was the restoration of his image through his reunion with his former sweetheart, Spencer. After five years apart, the soulmates were back together and the actor, by then also known for his angry outbursts, was immediately grounded.
In April 2003 they married at his Nana Glen farm. Eight months later their first son, Charlie, was born. The marriage largely restored him but only time would tell if it could sustain his huge appetite for conquest and stardom.
The great thaw between Crowe and Spencer is said to have started in earnest two years ago as Spencer realised that despite her love for her career-obsessed film star husband, he would never be completely satisfied with a humble life in Sydney’s suburbs.
Having put her career on hold for the best part of a decade to raise Charlie, now 8, and brother Tennyson, 6, Spencer, too, itched to return to her music career.
She also wanted to move her family out of the 14-million-dollar seven-bedroom, six-bathroom, three-kitchen, glass-fronted Woolloomooloo apartment that had been their home since April 2003 and into a traditional freestanding home in Sydney’s burbs.
From 2007 to 2010 the couple searched, with a large and increasingly frustrated team of real-estate experts, for a family home in the eastern suburbs that would meet their privacy requirements. From day one, Crowe didn’t share his wife’s enthusiasm for the quest. Each time Spencer found what she thought to be a suitable home, Crowe would mount a stiff argument against buying.
As the list of rejected properties grew, it became clear to Spencer (and a dozen Sydney real-estate agents) that Crowe was in no hurry to compromise his own values for hers.
“The reality was, he didn’t want a family home. He wanted to stay in his bachelor pad living his jetset lifestyle,” an observer said this week.
Having lived apart for 12 months, they are said to have formally separated in July after she and the boys flew to LA for one last show of solidarity. Crowe is said to have been blindsided by her determination to separate and reluctant to accept it.
“Don’t be surprised when he mounts a campaign to win her back. He knows he will never replace her,” a friend said.