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Russell Crowe has caused controversy after making a joke about an accidental sex act with his female co-star.

He made the comment on stage as a means to highlight the need for “sensitivity” in the film industry at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts awards, in Sydney.

However, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein and other harassment and abuse scandals, his joke was made to a room of stunned silence.

The 53-year-old apparently laughed as he told the joke, and said: “I was sodomising Jacqueline McKenzie (female co-star) on the set of Romper Stomper. I didn’t actually intend to do that.

“I was trying to keep my bits away from her bits, and she’s been given one of those pieces of elastic that the girls get when you do those scenes, which protects them from all things, and my bits and pieces were in a little canvas sack with a drawstring.

 

“And it was actually my desire to keep the bits apart. It wasn’t until the opening night of the film that it was pointed out by none other than Jackie McKenzie’s beautiful late mother that we were in fact, in her mind, engaged in sodomy.

“Anyway that was just a story about sensitivity!”

His comments were met with a muted response from the audience, and Australian outlets reported that it was seen as inappropriate after the #MeToo scandal.

Just days before his joke, Jacqueline McKenzie, who starred with him in the 1991 film, claimed she was the victim of “grubby behaviour’ and “sexual harassment and groping” in a Facebook post.

In it, she claimed a blind eye was turned to the abuse she allegedly faced.

 

However, after Mr Crowe’s  remarks came to light, she defended her former co-star.

She wrote on Facebook: “The very important conversation of sexual harassment in the workplace bares no relevance to this. There were no blurry lines on that awkward day back in 1991. As there should never be.

“Over the eons, he and I have often laughed at the awkwardness we felt shooting that scene. How we were trying to be as protective of our modesties as we could, as ‘sensitive’ to each other’s feelings as we could BUT when the director called ‘action’, the scripted action was violent and explicit.”

Russell Crowe said in a statement: “Actors and actresses by the nature of our jobs get thrown into some embarrassing, bizarre and extreme circumstances.

“It’s an ironic combination that the sensitivity required for the job has to be coupled with the ability to put aside your embarrassment and fears and cope with the humiliation.

“Jacquie and I survived that moment in our young careers because we looked after each other. Our friendship has only strengthened with the years and it’s a story we both cringe and laugh over.

“The way I told that story was to elicit that half cringe/half laugh reaction.

“Obviously I was only intending to make people laugh, especially Jacquie, and she did.

“I didn’t mean any offence to anyone and it wasn’t a comment on other issues.”

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