Director Ron Howard has risen to the defense of his leading man, Oscar winner Russell Crowe, after the two were shooting a scene at Princeton University this week, according to the local newspaper, the Trentonian, and other reports. It seems that as they were filming their new movie, "A Beautiful Mind" on campus on Tuesday, Crowe, 36, gave his middle finger to a 21-year-old student who snapped his photo. The student was later identified as Meredith Moroney, who allegedly snapped the picture from a friend's dorm room. "He's not a bad guy," Howard told the Trentonian. "It was out of character for him. He was signing a lot more autographs than giving middle fingers." Other students found Crowe to be gentlemanly. "He was walking by and some people asked for autographs," freshman Ann-Marie McGintee was quoted as saying. "He let people take pictures, and he cracked a joke about the pronunciation of my last name." On Oscar night, the host of the event, Steve Martin, cracked a joke about Crowe's reputation as a Romeo. When the camera panned to Crowe, he all but sneered at Martin. Only later, as he accepted his Oscar for "Gladiator," did the actor come across as warm and approachable.
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