“Pure imagination,” wrote Russell Crowe this morning in response to a book excerpt published months ago which had likely just come to the Oscar-winner’s attention.

In the excerpt from Scott Meslow’s From Hollywood With Love, which was posted online by Vulture in February, My Best Friend’s Wedding director P.J. Hogan says he originally tried to cast Crowe as the film’s titular best friend opposite soon-to-be-Oscar winner Julia Roberts. But first, said the director, Crowe had to be ok’d by Roberts, who had casting approval. So he allegedly set up a table read.

Hogan said, according to From Hollywood With Love:

It was one of the worst table reads I’ve ever experienced. Russell was seated opposite Julia. He gripped that script, and he stared at that script, and he didn’t look at her once. He read every line in a monotone. At one point, Julia was literally leaning over the table, staring, like, inches from Russell’s face, trying to make eye contact. And he wouldn’t look at her. At the end of the reading, Russell came up to me and said, ‘I thought that went pretty well.’ And then I knew: Russell was not going to be in My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Crowe does not remember it that way. In fact, he doesn’t remember it at all.

“Pure imagination on behalf of this director,” wrote the actor on Twitter this morning. “I did not audition for this film. I have never done a table read with the actress mentioned. Would be funny if it wasn’t so pointless.”

Deadline has reached out to Roberts, Meslow and Hogan for comment and will add any we receive.

Crowe, meanwhile, has been busy in Rome today, where the Gladiator star met with Mayor Roberto Gualtieri and accepted a plaque indicating he is an “ambassador” for Rome in the world.

AP reported the actor responded in Italian with a line reminiscent of the Oscar-winning film itself: “I am always at the service of Rome.”


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