Actor Paul Giamatti got a harsh taste of what life is like for a superstar when he teamed up with Russell Crowe in new boxing drama THE CINDERELLA MAN - and he can't understand how his new pal can handle it.

The PLANET OF THE APES star admits the media intrusion and exaggeration would drive him mad, but Crowe took it all in his stride.

Giamatti admits Crowe's bad press about him being an unruly and difficult star made him initially fear the experience of working with him was going to be unbearable.

He says, "He didn't hurt me. He was actually very, very kind to me. I actually really loved working with him. He's a complicated man but he did not bite me or hurt me.

"It's interesting because I did see things that happened (on the set) and I then saw, in print, things that had nothing to do with what I saw happen.

"Things do get really exaggerated and it must drive him crazy because he's constantly being watched for bad behaviour."

And he's keen to blast one rumour about his pal's smoking habits: "He had boxing gloves on the whole time and he smokes a lot, and his wardrobe guy was sticking cigarettes in his mouth and lighting them. Somehow it became this whole thing about how he had this lackey who had to light his cigarettes for him. That's not what it was."

18/10/2004 21:04