CULTURE

Ancient heroes inspire Hollywood

Actor Peter O’Toole was not just boasting when he turned down the Oscar for lifetime achievement recently (though he subsequently decided to accept the honor) on the grounds that he was still active. According to a recent announcement, he will play the part of Priamus in Wolfgang Petersen’s film version of «Troy,» a performance which may even make him a candidate for a proper Oscar. Other cast members had already been announced, namely Brad Pitt in the role of Achilles, Eric Bana («the Hulk») as Hector and Orlando Bloom («Lord of the Rings») as Paris. Petersen’s ambition is for «Troy» to become a big epic movie, in the tradition of «Lawrence of Arabia.» «The conditions are ideal for an epic movie, because we can work on a very large scale, meaning one thousand ships and 75,000 people in big battles,» explained Petersen. «The focus, however, is on human feelings, something which Homer handled magnificently on a human scale.» The cast also includes Julie Christie as Thetis, Brendan Gleeson as Menelaus, Brian Cox as Agamemnon and Saffron Burrows as Andromache. The only major part on which no agreement has yet been reached is that of Helen of Troy, since, according to Petersen, «she must be so beautiful as to convince that the Greeks set out against Troy with a thousand ships for her sake.» Filming is due to start on April 22 in London, and it will continue in Morocco and Malta. The premiere will take place on May 21, 2004, in the hope that «Troy» will be the first big hit of the summer box office in the United States. Petersen firmly denied that filming in Morocco could be delayed because of the threat of war. «Filming will first take place in London and Malta,» he said. «We will not film any of the big battle scenes, which will be set in Morocco, before July or August. If, due to an unexpected turn of events, we are unable to do any filming in Morocco, we have examined the possibilities of either Mexico or Spain.» Quite a few big cinema productions are currently facing the same problem, and most of them happen to have a Greek theme. Both productions of «Alexander the Great,» one by Baz Lurhmann with Leonardo DiCaprio and the other by Oliver Stone with Colin Farrell, have arranged to do their filming in Morocco. So has Ridley Scott’s «Tripoli,» another epic movie with Russell Crowe. All four productions have alternative plans, to avoid slipping away from their time schedule.