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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jolie Shy About Beowulf Body

Angelina Jolie's head peers out from luminous, turquoise water in a dark cavern littered with decaying bodies and skeletons.

She is moving slowly toward her prey. Trailing Jolie is a long, thin, twisting gold tail.

"I love my tail," Jolie laughs during an interview in Los Angeles recently. The water scene is the first time audiences of her new, ground-breaking digitally-enhanced live action film, Beowulf, see Jolie's face.

The other lead actors in Beowulf, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, John Malkovich and Robin Wright Penn, are not so easily recognisable, thanks to new generation motion capture technology Beowulf director Robert Zemeckis used to make the film.

Zemeckis believed Jolie's exotic beauty, except for the tail, did not need touching up to play the demonic, lizard-like mother of Grendel, a half-decaying monster who also lives in the cavern.

Winstone, the East London-born actor with a booming Cockney accent, was not so fortunate.

Zemeckis, who used similar Hollywood technical magic to create 2004's The Polar Express with Tom Hanks, cast Winstone to play the movie's hero, Beowulf, a Viking warrior with legendary, dragon-slaying fighting skills.

In a traditional Hollywood action adventure film, the casting decision would be deemed ridiculous.

Beowulf stands almost two metres tall, has blond, flowing hair and a muscular body similar to a professional wrestler.

Winstone is just 178cm tall, has black hair, a pot belly and chubby arms used to lifting pints in a pub.

Beowulf is in in the physical prime of his life, aged in his latest 20s. Winstone celebrated his 50th birthday this year.

When Zemeckis first contacted Winstone about playing Beowulf, a story set in Denmark in the 6th century and based on the oldest known English language poem, believed to have been written in the 7th century, the English actor thought the director was kidding.

When they met and Zemeckis showed Winstone images of what Beowulf would look like in the film, he thought the director was insane.

Zemeckis, however, was convinced the portly Pom was the man for the job.

He was blown away by Winstone's performance as Henry VIII in a 2003 TV movie about the British monarch, but not by the actor's physical appearance.

It was Winstone's voice.

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