Crowe returned to Australia at age 21, intending to apply to the National Institute of Dramatic Art. "I was working in a theatre show, and talked to a guy who was then the head of technical support at NIDA", Crowe has recalled. "I asked him what he thought about me spending three years at NIDA. He told me it'd be a waste of time. He said, 'You already do the things you go there to learn, and you've been doing it for most of your life, so there's nothing to teach you but bad habits. '" From 1986 to 1988, he was given his first professional role by director Daniel Abineri, in a New Zealand production of The Rocky Horror Show. He played the role of Eddie/Dr Scott. He repeated this performance in a further Australian production of the show, which also toured New Zealand. In 1987, Crowe spent six months busking when he could not find other work. In the 1988 Australian production of Blood Brothers, Crowe played the role of Mickey. He was also cast again by Daniel Abineri in the role of Johnny, in the stage musical Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom in 1989.
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