Oscar-winning director Ron Howard has compared Russell Crowe's fiery temper with the confrontational manner of Tom Hanks, because he handles the two stars in a similar way.

The GLADIATOR star - who has courted controversy after throwing a phone at a New York City hotel employee earlier this year (05) - has twice worked for the acclaimed movie-maker, firstly in A Beautiful Mind in 2001 and in this year's (05) boxing blockbuster Cinderella Man.

And the former HAPPY DAYS star teamed up with Hanks for new film The Da Vinci Code, and has learned to recognise the early warning signs in the actor's temper, because he reacts in a similar way to Crowe.

He says, "In his own way, Tom Hanks is as intense as Russell.

"He's easy-going, he's not confrontational in a quicksilver sort of way, but, if there's a problem, it's urgent and the alarms go off as clearly with Tom Hanks as they do with Russell Crowe."