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Universal Wants to Assure Everyone That Russell Crowe Dropped the Weight Before Shooting Robin Hood

Hey, have you heard the news? Russell Crowe is fat! Or, at least, that's what was written in the Paper of Record over the weekend, which sent everyone affiliated with Team Crowe into crisis damage-control mode. It would be one thing if Crowe's box-office drawing power were growing at the same rate as his waistline, but outside of 2007's American Gangster, Crowe's last $100 million hit was 2001's A Beautiful Mind. Sensing that they could find themselves embroiled in yet another buzz-destroying PR snafu, Universal decided to head the naysayers off at the pass by releasing a still of a considerably slimmer Crowe in character on the set of Robin Hood to USA Today. In an interview with the LAT's Patrick Goldstein, they claim that the timing is purely coincidental, but come on now, we all know better.

After all, this isn't the first time that the production of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood has courted controversy. Last summer, production of Nottingham, as it was formerly titled, shut down just weeks before the film was scheduled to begin shooting with stars Crowe and Sienna Miller. The delay was chalked up to script issues, but if the rumor mill is to be believed, the real reason for the delay was due to the difficulty that Crowe was having dropping the weight he put on for Body of Lies. Then, when production surprisingly resumed back in January, the previously cast Sienna Miller dropped out of the project amidst rumors that she was too young and pretty to be a believable conquest for Crowe.

So it makes perfect sense that the porcupine-coiffed producer Brian Grazer wanted to get ahead of the rumors this time around, and, by releasing photos of Crowe looking very Gladiator-esque, it seems he has succeeded in turning people's opinions on this project around. That is, at least until people start seeing footage. But by then, we're pretty sure that the celebrity weeklies will be running "Russell Crowe's Dieting Secrets Revealed!" cover stories, and the whole cycle will begin anew.

New photo of a sleeker Russell Crowe: Damage control for 'Robin Hood'? [Big Picture/LAT]

Photo: Courtesy of Universal