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It was a case of life imitating art last week when Russell Crowe dipped into his own pocket to help out a damsel in distress.

The New Zealand-born star is currently in the UK filming a new big screen version of Robin Hood, and turned the role into reality when he paid for a new car for a crew member whose old car went up in flames.

Denise Yarde – a boom operator on the film – was driving to the set when her car caught fire and was completely written off. When told about the accident, Crowe immediately gave her £5,000 for a new car.

“Denise’s job involves dressing like an extra and getting right in the middle of the action to pick up the dialogue, so without her there was no filming for a few hours,” a film insider told the Mirror newspaper. "By the time she got to work everyone knew what had happened and she came in for a bit of mickey-taking for driving an old banger. Russell joined in with some of it and she took it in good heart. But at one point, after she said about him never having to worry about buying a new car, Russell went quiet and everyone thought that was the end of it.

“Then later in the afternoon he sought Denise out and gave her the five grand. It was a lovely gesture by Russell, who is known on the set for his generosity.”

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