The actor says he explored the religion years ago, but is not a member
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He’s not a Scientologist, but Russell Crowe says he did explore the much-publicized religion years ago – and sought some insight from a very famous friend.

“From a young kid, I was quite interested in religion,” the Oscar-winning actor, whose parents chose not to baptize him so that he could explore his own beliefs, tells PEOPLE. “When I met Tom Cruise when he was married to [fellow Aussie] Nicole [Kidman], we were spending a bit of time together so I thought I’d find out a little bit about what he was into.”

So Crowe set about to learn more.

“I found a video in the video store about Scientology and I watched it,” the 51-year-old actor says. “It wasn’t that informative. But I brought it up with Tom and I thought he was really cool. He didn’t try to sell me a pair of shoes. He just said, ‘If it’s something that interests you, you’ll pursue it.’ And I think that happens with any kind of religion if you come to it by your own discovery.”

Crowe, who is starring in The Water Diviner – a film he also directed, out April 24 – says he never became a member of the church, despite a recent report that named him a member. “I never ended up putting my two cents down on anybody’s table,” says Crowe. “I’ve never graced [Scientology’s] doorway.”

For more from Crowe, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday