Actors Weigh in on the Movie

CS Lewis story to roar on big screen
Oscar winner will play leading role

By Eddie McIlwaine

29 July 2004
Oscar winner will play leading role

CS Lewis story to roar on big screen

By Eddie McIlwaine

OSCAR winning actor Jim Broadbent is putting on his scholarly look today as he plays the Professor in the blockbuster movie of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the CS Lewis classic fairytale which is being shot for the big screen on location in New Zealand.

The big budget movie is being filmed 54 years after it was written by the Belfast-born theologian and author – and is being tipped as the next Lord of the Rings-style hit.

“I spent an absorbing week re-reading the yarn,” said the star who won his best support Academy Award for his role as John Bayley in Iris.

“Smashing stuff and I’ve got a great part as the Prof – just ask any little boy or girl who has had the story read to them at bedtime.”

Broadbent, who was also in Moulin Rouge and Bullets over Broadway, is joined in the cast of the £70m Walt Disney film by the Vicar of Dibley Dawn French as the voice of Mrs Beaver, Rupert Everett who is in Shrek 2, as the Voice of the Fox and Scottish actress Tilda Swinton as The White Witch.

“The Lewis story is for all generations,” said Miss Swinton who won awards for her role in Adaptation with Nicholas Cage.

“Imagine, this story by theologian Lewis which he dreamed up first as a little boy in Belfast has sold 65 million copies around the world in 30 languages.

“I’m going to make a realistic evil witch, just the way CS wanted her to be.”

And for James Cosmo, seen recently on Belfast cinemas as Glaucus in Troy starring Brad Pitt, the film will be a second chance to play a role he loves – Father Christmas.

Cosmo had the part of Santa in Santa Claws, but will be best remembered as the grizzled warrior Campbell in Braveheart opposite Mel Gibson.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Chronicles of Narnia first took shape in the family home at Circular Road in east Belfast where CS Lewis played hide and seek with his brother in an old wardrobe in the attic – a piece of furniture which is now a collector’s item in Chicago.

And in later life he would go walking at Craigantlet and dream up the fairytale that was to thrill several generations of children.

Former Belfast Lord Mayor Dr Ian Adamson, an authority on Lewis, said today: “It’s about time this film was shot. The Chronicles, and in particular the wardrobe story, rival anything in the Potter yarns and in The Lord of the Rings saga.”

This story was originally published at The Belfast Telegraph