Russell Crowe helped save a friend from a deadly snake attack recently when he calmly walked away from danger before she saw the slithering creature.
The 52-year-old Gladiator star was treating his unnamed visitor to a tour of his farm in Australia when she started talking about her fear of snakes.
Assuring her there was nothing to fear, as he rarely saw killer reptiles in the wild, Russell turned a corner and came face to face with a snake about to attack.
Thinking quickly, he decided not to worry his guest and simply made a hasty retreat.
He tells People, "(It was) a mature red-bellied black snake... I was walking through a paddock with this girl who had been talking to me for 20 minutes about how terrified of snakes she was. I said, 'I know it's Australia, but you hardly ever see them', and I looked down at this snake.
"It was rearing up, its head is flattened out, it's a split second from striking. It was the 12 fastest reverse steps I've ever taken in my life. One minute I was there, the next minute I wasn't."
His puzzled visitor followed him, wondering why Crowe was acting strangely.
"She said, 'What are you doing?'," he recalls. "I said, 'Nothing', and walked the other way and she followed me. Then later on I said, 'By the way..."'
Crowe admits he'll always be baffled by the fact his native New Zealand is largely creature less, while nearby Australia, which is where he lives, is populated by killer spiders, snakes and other dangerous animals: "Isn't that weird? They're physically close, geographically close, but Australia was one of the first land masses above the water and New Zealand is one of the last, so maybe it has something to do with that."