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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 09:41 GMT
Crowe and Ryan romance 'damaged film'
Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe has an Oscar and Bafta nomination
The short-lived romance between film stars Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan destroyed the chances of their first film together at the box office, according to the movie's director.

Taylor Hackford, director of Proof of Life, said: "It had an indelible and very destructive effect on the release of the film in the US because the real life story overpowered the film."

Mr Hackford was speaking before the UK premiere of the film in London on Wednesday night.

Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan has ended her relationship with Dennis Quaid
The two stars began their high-profile romance while filming Proof of Life in Ecuador last year, before Ryan ended her nine-year relationship with actor Dennis Quaid.

Crowe, however, said: "The end of her prior relationship had nothing to do with me. Meg Ryan is a beautiful and courageous woman and I grieve the loss of her companionship, but I've not lost her friendship."

In the action adventure, Crowe plays kidnap expert Terry Thorne who negotiates the release of hostage Peter Bowman, played by David Morse.

'Smart idea'

The actor was in London to attend the premiere of the film, where he met up with Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell, whom he met at the Golden Globe awards at the beginning of this month.

Russell Crowe and Jamie Bell
Russell Crowe renewed his friendship with Jamie Bell
On Sunday, Crowe will learn if he has won the Bafta award for best actor,for his performance in Gladiator.

"I'm from the Antipodes... getting a nomination from the British Academy is to me of equal importance as the American Academy," he said.

Crowe has also earned a best actor nomination for the Academy Awards, also for Gladiator, to be held in Los Angeles at the end of March.

He added: "I think it's a really smart idea to put the Baftas on before the Oscars. If in the last few years its level of importance has dropped, its repositioning will bring it back the place it should be."

Of his Oscar nomination and a possible winner's speech, he said: "There's more than the one awards ceremony so I just get out the old ones and have them on stand-by.

"I thought Michael Douglas would win. I'm just very pleased I got a nomination."

'Puritanical streak'

The backlash, especially against Meg, was astounding

Taylor Hackford
Mr Hackford said a "puritanical" streak in the American audience had hurt the film.

"The backlash, especially against Meg, was astounding," he said.

He said working with Crowe was a challenging experience.

"Russell is a very complicated and challenging actor. I don't expect people to just say yes and certainly Russell didn't.

"If he didn't have good ideas, I wouldn't have any time for him but he does."

Other stars who attended the premiere included Hackman's wife Helen Mirren, EastEnders stars Natalie Cassidy and James Alexandrou, former England rugby captain Will Carling, Holby City stars Lisa Faulkner and Angela Griffin and TV presenter Nell McAndrew.

See also:

29 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Meg and Dennis split up
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Awards flow for Billy Elliot
13 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Picture gallery: Best film nominees
08 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Gladiator DVD cuts Hillsborough photo
31 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Billy Elliot star's Bafta tonic
13 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Quaid files for divorce
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