The Oscar-winning actor, who was born in New Zealand, made the comments in an interview promoting his new movie, The Water Diviner, which was the top grossing local film of 2014 in Australia, where he is based.
Crowe stars in and directed the film. He told the Australian Women's Weekly:
"The best thing about the industry I'm in — movies — is that there are roles for people in all different stages of life. To be honest, I think you'll find that the woman who is saying that [roles have dried up] is the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingénue, and can’t understand why she's not being cast as the 21-year-old.
"Meryl Streep will give you 10,000 examples and arguments as to why that's bulls**t, so will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be. If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend that you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work.
"The point is, you do have to be prepared to accept that there are stages in life. So I can’t be the Gladiator forever."
Crowe makes no mention of male actors in his rant.
While Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren have found success in their age category, the reality for most actresses is far less glamorous.
Internet does not agree with him
TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey insists it's not for a lack of trying. Festival programmers make a concerted effort to bring female stories to screen.
"We've been paying a lot of attention to how women are represented and how women filmmakers represent their own stories — the stories they want to tell — in the last few years," he said. "[But] we have noticed despite all the efforts that were made in past years . . . there hasn't been a significant amount of change."
In a recent interview with Glamour, Oscar-nominee Jessica Chastain argued for more roles for older women in Hollywood.
"I love Meryl Streep. She's such an incredible actress. But I feel like she's the only one in her age group who gets those parts," Chastain told the magazine. "I'd like to see Jessica Lange in a movie again, you know? Or Susan Sarandon. Why isn't Viola Davis a lead in a film? She's one of the greatest actresses alive. And where are the Asian actors and actresses?"
Even Streep herself has been quoted as saying there are not enough women in Hollywood.
"We are very familiar with these dreadful statistics that detail the shocking under-representation of women in our business," she told Vanity Fair in 2012.
Not surprisingly, Crowe's advice was not well received online.
Feminist blogs and some mainstream media published articles detailing just how wrong they believe Crowe's statements to be. And twitter users slammed his remarks.
"As we enter the bright potential of a new year, let us hope that Russell Crowe has finally resolved to shut up," read one tweet.
"Jerk say jerkish things. Russell Crowe being sexist with #WhiteMalePrivilege What else is new?" said another.
On mobile? See the tweets here and here.