Hey, Jude Law, do be afraid!

Because that guy thinks you're stealing his car.

In a bizarre incident Thursday in Romania, the British thespian almost wound up on the receiving end of a beatdown when a high-ranking government official thought the Oscar-nominated Law was trying to swipe an SUV.

Law, in Romania to shoot the film Cold Mountain, was accosted by Dinu Patriciu, a leading senator of the opposition Liberal Party and one of the country's richest entrepreneurs, after the politico spotted the actor and his bodyguard getting into a Land Rover at Bucharest's Otopeni Airport. Patriciu believed the two men were stealing the vehicle, which he recognized as belonging to his brother.

What Patriciu didn't recognize was Law. The star of A.I, The Talented Mr. Ripley and the just-released Road to Perdition is currently sporting a thick beard for his role as a wounded Confederate soldier in Cold Mountain.

The politician approached Law and told him to stop. A heated argument ensued over who owned the car. As tempers flared, Patriciu lashed out at Law, according to local media reports. Law's bodyguard immediately stepped in and separated the two men.

After the dust settled, Law produced papers showing that Castel Films, one of the producers of Cold Mountain, had rented the SUV from a mechanic--who indeed had purchased the vehicle from Patriciu's brother, unbeknownst to Patriciu.

"It was just a case of mistaken car identity," Law's publicist, Simon Halls, tells E! Halls describes the dispute as "not that big of a deal" and says no one was hurt in the dispute and no charges were filed.

While the embarrassed Patriciu apologized for the trouble he caused, he did express some resentment over the way in which Law handled the situation.

"I was very unhappy because he started swearing," Patriciu told the Associated Press. "I am not a native English speaker, but I understood what he was saying. He kept telling me that he had come to bring money to the country. Later, I was told he was a Hollywood star."

In fact, Law was arriving from New York City, where he had attended the glitzy premiere of Road to Perdition, director Sam Mendes' 1930s gangster drama costarring Tom Hanks. Law plays a creepy photographer/hit man in the film, which has been generating rave reviews and early Oscar buzz.

If its pedigree means anything, Cold Mountain could also be a force at the Academy Awards. Directed by Oscar winner Anthony Mingella, the film adapts Charles Frazier's best-selling, award-winning Civil War novel. The whiskered Law stars as Inman, an AWOL rebel soldier on a perilous quest home to his wife, played by Nicole Kidman. The cast also includes Donald Sutherland, Renée Zellweger, Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Giovanni Ribisi, Charlie Hunnam, Jena Malone, Ray Winstone and Brendan Gleeson.

The film, which just began principal photography in Romania (the production moves to North Carolina later this year), is expected to hit theaters sometime in 2003.

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