As Terri Irwin broke down on national TV last week during an interview with Anh Do, while he painted her portrait on Brush With Fame, the first person to rush to comfort her was close pal Russell Crowe.
Sources close to the actor tell New Idea that watching Terri break down on TV really affected Russell.
‘Obviously they’ve been very close for years and he’s been by her side through all the highs and lows since Steve died, but watching her become so emotional made him realise that he needs to do more for her,’ the source reveals.
During the interview, Terri, who also revealed that Steve predicted his life would be ‘cut short’, was visibly distressed as she admitted it was very hard to tell her children Robert, 14, and Bindi, 20, who were just two and eight at the time, that their father had died.
‘I think Bindi grasped it. She understood,’ she revealed. ‘But it was harder with Robert. He just wasn’t connecting.’
When Anh asked her to clarify, Terri, 53, began to cry as she said: ‘He would sit in the bathtub and cry, “I just want my dad.”’
She also talked about what extreme lengths she went to, to keep the kids out of the spotlight after their father’s death.
‘I’ve literally got them rolled up in blankets on the back seats of vehicles to keep them from being photographed at their most vulnerable,’ she wept.
Terri also recalled the happy moment when Steve proposed at Australia Zoo, eight months after they began dating when she was 27. She admitted she could think of a ‘million reasons’ why she should say no, but something inside her said yes.
It’s not the first time Terri has opened up about her heartbreak following the death of her husband of 14 years.
Earlier this year she told People magazine: ‘No matter what the circumstances are that you lose someone, nobody’s truly prepared. Steve’s accident was so unexpected, it was extremely challenging.’
According to sources, she is still raw from Steve’s death and Russell, 54, has made it his mission to help Terri.
‘He has always felt a real connection with Terri and the kids, and knows he’s always going to be in their lives. But after seeing her so upset on TV, he wants to be more to her – he wants them to spend even more time together and for him to be her rock. Watching Terri break down was the moment that everything changed for Russell.
‘Russell loves Terri, but he just has to follow her cues and be the best friend and support he can be.’
In fact, so close is Russell to the family, that Bindi often exchanges messages with him on Twitter. Last week she wrote on a birthday tribute from the Zoo: ‘I can’t believe the first time we met I was in Mummy’s tummy. Sending hugs.’
Russell promptly replied: ‘Crazy right? What a privilege to watch you and Robert grow.’
Russell has spoken about his relationship with the Irwin family, admitting to Newscorp: ‘I was great friends with Steve and his wife and his kids are really important to me. They’re beautiful people.
‘Terri is one of the greatest women I’ve ever met in my life, without there being implication of intimacy or whatever. You know I do love Terri Irwin, I love her kids and I love how she’s kept the memory of Steve alive, and respected the work that the two of them had begun and she’s an absolute champion, but we’re not in a relationship.’
Terri has also spoken in the past of her relationship with the Gladiator star, saying: ‘In all honesty, he and Steve became friends many years ago, and after Steve passed, you find out who your true friends are. And Russell has been very loyal as a great friend.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.