Van Damme joins French Big Brother
April 30, 2003
Jean-Claude Van Damme is being lined up to star in a film version of Swan Lake. The heavyweight Belgian actor, whose credits include Bloodsport, Universal Soldier and Double Impact, is one of a number of box-office stars being tipped to take up non-dancing roles in a screen version of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet.
The English National Ballet film is aimed at introducing dance to a new audience by using the special effects team behind the Harry Potter films and Lord of the Rings. 'The audience will literally be taken up between the lines of ballet dancers and will be able to touch their pointe shoes,' said English National Ballet's MD Christopher Nourfe. Celebrated ballerina Agnes Oaks is likely to star in the role of Odette. It is hoped that some of the biggest names in acting will fill the non-dancing roles. Impresario Jonathan Shalit, who is behind the film, said: 'For Swan Lake I have been thinking of: Von Rothbart - Jean-Claude Van Damme or Ewan MacGregor; The Prince's Mother - Dame Judi Dench, Angela Lansbury, Glenn Close, Jane Seymour. As director, l have in mind the likes of Stephen Daldry, Sam Mendes or Nicholas Hynter.'
The film will make use of dazzling film effects already familiar to the millions who have been captivated by the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings blockbusters. Filming is due to start next spring and the movie is expected to be screened later next year. By jumping at the chance to make the movie, the ENB has beaten its rival, The Royal Ballet, which is also aiming to make a film version of Swan Lake, with Darcey Bussell as its potential star.
As far as the cash-strapped ENB is concerned, it is a 'no risk project', with the Ј300,000 it will be spending being guaranteed by Shalit as producer. By being more fleet-footed than the Royal Ballet, the ENB has stoked up a fascinating head to head. The two biggest ballet companies are now planning to bring out rival feature length movies of Swan Lake. There have been previous films of the ballet, but these have been merely films of stage shows and this project, said Nourfe, aims to 'shatter the conventions' by freeing dancers from the constraints of the stage.
Shalit, famous as manager for singer Charlotte Church, went to the Royal Ballet with the idea of featuring its lead ballerina Darcey Bussell and the rest of the troupe in a ballet movie. 'The Royal Ballet's executives were keen on the idea but negotiations stalled because they insisted on handing television rights to the BBC and the Royal Ballet could not film it for at least two and a half years,' said Shalit. The ENB said they could film it much quicker and plan to do so next spring. But the Royal Ballet has decided to go ahead with the plans - with or without Shalit.
'I will be furious if they go ahead with their plans,' said Shalit. 'It was my idea and I would have loved to have done it with the Royal Ballet. 'I am now doing it with the ENB and it will be brilliant.'
Sourced from Guardian Unlimitid