Noah star Russell Crowe says his new movie has been getting an unfair rap.
"We have endured 12 to 14 months of irrational criticism and now people are starting to see it and to realize how respectful it is, and how true to the source material it is and how intense of an experience it is in the movie theater, you know, so that's cool," Crowe told the Associated Press in an interview published Thursday.
Some religious groups have decried Noah as an inaccurate and disrespectful portrayal of events in the Bible. The film was also banned in a number of Islamic countries. Given the criticism, Paramount Pictures has added a disclaimer to its marketing material to note that "artistic license has been taken."
Emma Watson, who plays Noah's daughter in the film, said that she, unlike her onscreen dad, wasn't surprised by the controversy. "To be honest, I expected there to be controversy, I think all Biblical adaptations carry the weight of that because it is something that is so personal to people," she said. "Everyone interprets it differently, but so far, the response has been really positive, and I think the film, when people see it, [they] will realize that it is very sensitive and inclusive. ... I'm really proud of the movie."
Noah, which opens Friday, has gotten positive reviews from many critics, including TIME's Richard Corliss. Many religious leaders are now urging their congregations to see the film. And the movie's projected to have a massive $40 million opening weekend. So even though Crowe didn't get his one-on-one with the Pope, he still may come out on top.