The movie stars who believe in UFOs

Close encounters of the A-List kind.

Russell Crowe nearly broke the internet when he posted a homemade video on YouTube, apparently showing a UFO.

The Oscar winning actor claimed he had been filming fruit bats over Sydney’s Botanical Gardens (as you

do), when his time-lapse camera captured an unidentified red light hovering above the tree line.

[Related story: Russell Crowe captures a UFO on camera?]

Explanations range from reflections of reversing cars to passing aircraft, and even the odd accusations of photoshopery by old Rusty himself.

Regardless, Crowe isn’t the first movie star to delve into the odd bit UFOlogy, and his story certainly isn’t the strangest. Welcome to the weird world of celebrity close encounters…

[Related story: Hollywood's most bizarre conspiracy theories]

Whilst doing press for alien action ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ in 2001, Aaron Eckhart told Jay Leno’s ‘The Tonight Show’: “I actually have seen an Unidentified Flying Object, there’s no doubt about it.” The ‘Thank You For Smoking’ star went on to reveal how one night he and a group of friends had witnessed a strange red and green light travel across the New Mexico sky “at speeds that were not human”. At least Eckhart could joke about it though.

Tom Cruise
, on the other hand, possibly took his alien battering performance in ‘War Of The Worlds’ a bit too serious. In 2007 several reports emerged that planet’s favourite Scientologist had ordered the construction a £7 million bunker to protect him from an alien attack. "Are you really so arrogant as to believe we are alone in this universe?” he told several papers at the time, "There are many things out there, we just don't know.”

Dan Aykroyd prefers a more proactive approach to alien contact, as the ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Blues Brothers’ star doesn’t just reserve his bustin’ skills for the undead. He’s the official “Hollywood Consultant” for MUFON - America’s amateur UFO investigator network.

Whilst living in upstate New York in the 80s, Aykroyd claims to have once woken in the middle of the night and told his wife “They’re calling me. I want to go outside”. Although he was convinced to go back to sleep, the next day people all over the area reported having the same urge to leave their beds. Those that did venture outside claim to have witnessed a large pink spiral hovering in the sky. Weird.

In 2005, Aykroyd produced a DVD called ‘Dan Aykroyd: Unplugged On UFOs’. An 80 minute staged interview in which he reveals that little green men, are in fact blue.

You can watch the full thing here. You have been warned.

Way before Aykroyd’s antics, Jackie Gleason, star of ‘The Hustler’ and ‘Smokey And The Bandit’, was widely known to have an interest in the paranormal himself - regularly appearing on John Nebel’s cult offbeat radio show to discuss his bizarre beliefs.

One night in 1973, Gleason claimed to have had a close encounter of his own, after he came home late looking badly shaken. According the actor’s then wife Beverley McKittrick, Gleason (who happened to be mates with Richard Nixon) told her his presidential pal had taken him to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. Once there, Nixon reportedly unveiled a collection of captured aliens to the actor, all dead and apparently quite small. Well, it’s a conversation starter isn’t it?

Despite Gleason’s public persona, when his wife went public with the story it upset him so much that he swiftly divorced her. Maybe he was just worried the Men in Black would come after him?

Finally, speaking of those gentlemen in suits and shades, we come to our last case study: Will Smith.

Although Big Willie once claimed to have witnessed a UFO whilst out driving with friends, the actor has had a far wider effect on the world of UFOlogy: the affectionately named “Will Smith Effect”.

It’s a genuinely noted phenomenon that whenever a Smith starring sci-fi movie come out, UFO reports significantly increase in areas where it’s screened. For example, 1996 - when ‘Independence Day’ came out - almost holds the record for the number of times the UK has been visited by UFOs, with 609 cases. The only year with more sightings is 1978 - just a few months after ‘Close Encounters’ and ‘Star Wars’ were released.