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LET'S MAKE IT FOR MARLON; Bid to re-shoot doomed Brando film.

Byline: LYNNE KELLEHER

THE HOLLYWOOD producer of an infamous Marlon Brando film, which collapsed in Ireland, wants to re-make the miracle movie in memory of the screen legend.

A new RTE documentary, Ballybrando, which shines the spotlight on the doomed Divine Rapture, tells of the extraordinary friendship which grew up between the Oscar-winner and his Irish cook during his brief stay in Ballycotton in east Cork.

In 1995, Johnny Depp, Debra Winger, John Hurt and Marlon Brando rolled into town to make the black comedy which promised to become a landmark Irish movie alongside The Quiet Man.

But less than two weeks into the shoot, the production crashed to an abrupt halt due to financial problems - leaving a devastated village and a heartbroken producer.

Movie legend John Hurt, who appeared in the 20 minutes of footage, tells of the eccentricities and fun behind the elusive film star.

Cork woman, Pat Swanwick, reveals the lasting friendship that grew between her and the cinematic giant while she cooked for him at the Georgian mansion where he stayed during the shoot.

She said: "He stood at the kitchen door and put his hands up and said 'Patricia, I'm Marlon Brando'. "He came and gave me a big hug and said he was delighted to be there and I cooked his breakfast and felt so at ease.

"He said it was always his dream to come to Ireland and had the film never happened he would have come to Ireland before he died."

The actor fell in love with Ballycotton and even started house-hunting, but the canning of the film cut short his idyllic stay.

The young producer, Barry Navidi, said he was heartbroken at the shutdown of his dream movie after backers failed to produce any money. An address given for the office where the fees for the movie's stars were to be banked in secure accounts called Eskro accounts turned out to fake and was in fact a parking lot in Los Angeles.

"I'll never forget the phone call from Debra Winger's lawyer," said the producer. "He told me Debra hadn't been paid. I had 24 hours to rescue it. I had a dream and it became a Hollywood nightmare."

But the producer, who went on to work with Al Pacino on the Merchant of Venice, said he would love to return and bring Hollywood back to Ballycotton.

In the documentary, star struck locals tell of the excitement which rippled through the village when the movie circus of sets and lights and cameras started rigging up.

Local fixer, Coleman Dunne, said Ballycotton residents had never seen anything like the scale of the EUR10 million movie.

He said: "It was like some sort of a miracle had arrived."

Director Thom Eberhardt said he was devastated for the young producer who had spent year painstakingly put together the movie when the finances failed to materialise.

Local cook, Pat Swanwick, who also works with troubled teenagers, said the movie star opened his heart to her about his grief over the suicide of his daughter Cheyenne two months before the movie started.

She said: "When I told him I was working with boys with drugs addictions he was very, very interested. "He told me all about his own family and the drug problems he had and the drug problems he had himself as a young boy, a teenager."

She said the tortured late actor, who was widely regarded as the greatest big screen star of our times, felt too ashamed to sign autographs for the local people in the Cork village.

She added: "He said 'Who am I, the big Marlon Brando, the big star who allowed my daughter to go out my living room door and crash her car at 100 miles an hour?" "He said he wouldn't sign autographs because the people out there were a million times better than I him."

While the Godfather star poured his heart out to the warm-hearted Irish cook at night, Oscar winner John Hurt said Brando and Johnny Depp spent their time getting up to pranks during the day.

He said: "They were both children. It was very sweet. They both had farting machines."

Ballybrando will be shown on RTE One on Tuesday, December 29 at 10.35pm.

CAPTION(S):

Star pranksters... Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp Stars... Debra Winger and John Hurt
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 20, 2009
Words:726
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