It's safe to say that Russell Crowe isn't the most loved guy out there, but the Gladiator star really made enemies with the wrong person.
Namely, Osama bin Laden.
In an interview with GQ in its new March edition, Crowe for the first time talks about a kidnapping plot against him, which he says was hatched by al Qaeda in a bid to "culturally destabilize" the United States.
Crowe says he was tipped off to the snatching scheme by the FBI.
"That was the first conversation in my life that I'd ever heard the phrase al Qaeda," Crowe told GQ, adding that the threat was picked up in a recording by a French policewoman in either Libya or Algiers.
Britain's Sunday People originally reported that Crowe had beefed up his security crew and was working with Scotland Yard to shield him from "mystery gangsters" at the London premiere of Proof of Life (a film, ironically, about kidnapping) in December 2000. The newspaper quoted an anonymous police source saying the would-be kidnappers were going to demand "a ransom of millions if they succeeded" and reported that Crowe and Scotland Yard had worked out "an elaborate plot to fake his exit" if the situation so required.
The FBI later confirmed that its agents--clad in tuxedoes to blend in with the glitterati--were shadowing Crowe during the 2001 Golden Globes and Academy Awards, where he won Best Actor for Gladiator.
In GQ, Crowe says that wasn't the full story; the FBI began monitoring him during the filming of 2000's A Beautiful Mind and continued of offer protection up through 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
"I never fully understood what the f--k was going on," he said. "Suddenly, it looks like I think I'm f--king Elvis Presley, because everywhere I go there are all these FBI guys.
"I don't think that I was the only person. But it was about--and here's another little touch of irony--it was about taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization plan," Crowe said.
Apparently, al Qaeda hadn't read Crowe's bio. He was born in New Zealand and spends the bulk of his time on a ranch in Eastern Australia.
Crowe said he first thought the scheme was part of some elaborate Oscar publicity stunt hatched by studio executives to help sway judges to his corner, but agents soon convinced him the threat was legitimate.
Eventually, Crowe was informed that the FBI "thought the threat had probably, or had possibly been overstated, and then they started to question their sources."
Crowe's publicist was not available for comment on the story; the FBI declined to address the report.
The actor will next be seen in director Ron Howard's Depression-era boxing drama Cinderella Man, due out in June.