Crowe Defends Movie & Meg

Oscar-nominated actor Russell Crowe fought back against critics who have blamed the poor box office returns of “Proof of Life” on his romance with the film’s co-star, Meg Ryan.

At Wednesday’s London premiere of “Proof,” director Taylor Hackford fueled the fire by announcing that their romance had left “an indelible and very destructive effect” on the U.S. release and overpowered the film.

“I think Taylor is being impolite, impolitic and imbecilic by saying that,” Crowe told reporters during a promotional tour on Saturday. “What we know, personally, is that we put as much effort into the process as possible and are pleased with the outcome.”

Surprisingly, Crowe admitted that the action movie was good, but not great. “I think it’s a good movie. Is it a great film and is it going to change your life? No. But not all of them can be,” he said.

Crowe, 37, and Ryan, 38, began a highly publicized affair during the filming of “Proof” in Ecuador last year. The controversy surrounding the affair swirled due to the fact that Ryan was still married to actor Dennis Quaid. Ryan ended her nine-year marriage to Quaid because of the ongoing affair, but eventually broke up with Crowe earlier this year.

Crowe has been nominated for Best Actor by both the American and British Academy Awards for his role in the blockbuster “Gladiator.” Sunday’s British Academy Award for Best Actor went to young star Jamie Bell from “Billy Elliot,” but Crowe is still optimistic for the American awards at the end of March.

“The Academy is the ultimate in terms of what I do for a job,” he said. “It’s a peer vote acknowledging that I put a bit of effort in.”