Russell Crowe has shrugged off controversy over his new film Noah, insisting he fully expected Muslim nations to ban the religious epic.
The Gladiator star plays the ark-building hero in Darren Aronofsky's big screen adaptation of the Bible story of the Great Flood, which hit headlines earlier this month (Mar14) when it was banned from cinemas in a number of countries throughout the Middle East.
However, Crowe is adamant the snub is not a major setback for the film, as he expected Muslim nations to reject the big budget blockbuster.
He tells Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, "This story is contained in every religious text. Noah is in the Quran (Islam's holy book). People from all over the world outside of religion have flood mythology... To be frank, given that it is a tenet of the Muslim religion that you can't make stories or render images about the Prophet, it was not unexpected that some Islamic nations would ban the film."
Noah will not be released in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and Crowe concedes the countries which banned the film are missing out on "stimulation and discussion" in a religious context, adding, "It's the primary issue of this film, whether you have faith or you don't have faith, you talk about it."