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Source: Sunday Herald

Brian Cox ditches Greyfriars Bobby for Trojan epic
By Toby McDonald

SCOTTISH actor Brian Cox has effectively killed off a Scottish film
of the famous Greyfriars Bobby tale by pulling out to star in a
£100m Greek epic alongside Brad Pitt.

Dundee-born Cox, 56, has been signed to play Agamemnon, the warrior
king who launched the Trojan Wars in a bid to win back his sister-in-
law, Helen, who had been stolen away by Prince Paris.

Hollywood actor Eric Bana, who starred with Ewan McGregor in Black
Hawk Down and who has just finished filming The Hulk, is to play the
prince, while Pitt has been cast as the Greeks' champion, Achilles.

But Cox's new role as the Greeks' leader at Troy may now signal the
death knell for Greyfriars Bobby.

The story, which was first brought to life by a Disney dramatisation
in the 1960s, was to have retold the tale of the Skye terrier and
constant companion to his owner, Jock Gray, who regularly dined at
the inn in the Grassmarket, near Greyfriars churchyard.

When Jock died in 1858, his faithful dog visited his grave every day
for 14 years and was fed by locals. After the terrier died in 1872
he was interred in the kirkyard next to his master and a bronze
statue was later erected in his memory.

Cox was to have played the part of the innkeeper in Greyfriars
Bobby's tale. The film, which has already been given £500,000 in
Lottery cash, was launched in a blaze of publicity last year but has
been beset by funding problems.

Last year, Noel Gay Productions launched a nationwide talent hunt
for a 10-year-old boy to star in the film. But shortly afterwards
the start date for shooting -- originally scheduled to begin in
December -- was cancelled.

Yesterday, no-one at Noel Gay Productions was available to comment,
but a Scottish Screen spokeswoman admitted it would be a 'big job'
to find another actor of Cox's calibre for the film. She said: 'Production
of Greyfriars Bobby seems to be in limbo. They were due to start
shooting before Christmas, but it looks uncertain now.

'Brian has been in Los Angeles for the past four weeks, and it will
be a big job for the company to find an actor to fill his shoes. It
may well make it difficult to find financing.'

Karen Greco, Cox's New York publicist, said: 'Brian has been in
negotiations to play Agamemnon in the film Troy. He is currently in
Los Angeles discussing the final details.

'We haven't heard anything about Greyfriars. There seems to be some
delay or problem with the finance. It's a wonderful role and he is
very excited to be in such a major movie.'

Troy, which will be directed by Wolfgang Petersen, is based on
Homer's The Iliad. It tells the story of Helen's kidnap, the siege
of Troy and its fall when the Greeks smuggled their fighters into
the city in a wooden horse.

The £100m film was to have begun filming in Morocco next month, but
amid fears of a looming war, production is now being transferred to
Mexico. Warner Brothers, which is behind the film, has warned the
cast and crew that it cannot guarantee their safety in the Muslim
country.

Dawn Taubin, president of Warner Brothers domestic marketing,
said: 'The safety and welfare of the cast and crew is of utmost
importance to us, and we will bear this in mind as we make
production decisions.'

Petersen will return to the director's chair for the first time
since shooting the hit movie The Perfect Storm in 1999.

The supporting cast for Troy includes Orlando Bloom, who plays
Hector's brother Paris, and Sean Bean, although movie bosses have
refused to announce the name of the actress to play the beautiful
Helen of Troy.

There has been a great deal of speculation and anticipation about
who will be given the role, said by the casting director to be 'a 20
on a scale of one to 10'.

For Cox, his success in the role is a final confirmation of his star
status in Hollywood. After first coming to fame as the original
Hannibal Lecter in the cult classic, Manhunter, Cox has played
Scotsmen in the films Rob Roy and Braveheart.

He has become one of Britain's leading stage performers, taking
roles such as Shakespeare's King Lear, and has spent some time as a
visiting lecturer in the US, passing on his skills to students at
Harvard and through his training video, Acting And Tragedy.

More recently, however, he has appeared in The Long Kiss Goodnight,
Rushmore, X-Men 2 and The Bourne Identity.

He has also earned an Emmy nomination for his role as Daphne's
father in American TV comedy Frasier. He lives with his second wife,
the German actress, Nicole Ansari, and his one-year-old son, Orson.

 

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