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Russell Crowe's near death cop experience

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May 28, 2012 | 9:15am EDT

Actor Russell Crowe was almost caught in the cross hairs of a hit on the life of police officer-turned-criminal Mark Standen after meeting him in secret as research for a movie.

The Gladiator star arranged a low-key chat with New South Wales Crime Commission assistant director Standen in his native Sydney, Australia back in 2008 to help him develop a film character.

They met in an alleyway, but Crowe had a sneaking suspicion something wasn't right when they had a run-in with a group of what appeared to be construction workers.

He says, "I met him (Standen) out on the street and we were walking down this alleyway between these buildings and there were these guys dressed as workmen, but there wasn't like a building site anywhere. They sort of turned and came toward us and if they wanted they could have very easily stopped us in that alleyway. There was quite a large group of them and one of them looked at me and kind of nodded his head and said, 'Hey Crowey, how are ya mate?' And then they stepped aside and allowed the two of us to pass. We walked a few steps (away) and I said to him (Standen), 'F**k that felt like a hit'. And he said, 'It did, didn't it?'. I just thought, 'What the f**k was all that about?'."

Little did Crowe know that several months later, Standen would be arrested for conspiring to import and supply chemicals to produce the street drug ice - and the actor realised he had put his life at risk by associating with the crooked cop.

The star relayed his experience to journalist Charles Miranda, who included the piece in his new non-fiction crime book Deception, which is set to be released next week (begs04Jun12).

Standen was sentenced to 22 years in prison last year (11).

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