Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

No pope meeting for Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe stars in biblical epic Noah

Russell Crowe and the makers of his film Noah attended Pope Francis' general audience but didn't get what they most wanted: a papal meeting.

The actor had lobbied for a papal thumbs up for his biblical epic and the ensuing publicity a Francis blessing would bring.

The film has been banned in much of the Muslim world because of its depiction of the prophet, while US conservatives have complained it took liberties with the Biblical account of the flood.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said the request from Noah's producers for a private audience was immediately turned down.

In an email to The Associated Press, Lombardi said there was similarly no scheduled "meet and greet" after the general audience, when VIPs can often get a quick word with the pope.

"They could have been at the audience like anyone else," Lombardi said.

It had been reported that the Noah delegation, including Russell, director Darren Aronofsky, producer Scott Franklin, and the vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, Rob Moore, had met with the pope.

But in an email to AP, Paramount merely said the delegation "went to hear" Francis' address at the audience.

Russell was spotted in the VIP section of St Peter's Square, but was too far back to reach the pope.

After the audience, the star tweeted: "Thank you holy father @Pontifex for the blessing," and "What a privilege, attended the Udienza with the holy father @Pontifex."

Russell had avidly sought Francis' blessing for the film, tweeting in recent weeks: "Holy Father @pontifex, it would be my deepest pleasure to bring the @darrenAronofsky film to you to screen. That this may happen Inshallah."

Despite his general aversion to papal publicity, Francis did make an exception and greeted Philomena Lee and the makers of the Oscar-nominated film Philomena during a recent general audience. The film is based on Lee's story of being sent to a Catholic-run boarding house in Ireland where she was forced to give up her son for adoption.

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