Copyright 2004

[ July 28th 2004 ]

Stars of film and TV are expected to attend the Welsh premiere of King Arthur in Wales on Wednesday. The big-budget movie, which features Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd as heroic Sir Lancelot, is expected to net millions of pounds at the box office. But the tiny village of Llandduesant in the Brecon Beacons has been cashing in, too. Some scenes were shot there, so more than 100 members of the production crew moved in temporarily. They took over the village hall and all available accommodation.

Film-makers arrived in April, saying they would like to shoot some parts on the mountain above the village. Soon, all beds in the local pub were booked, and an army of locals hired to provide services. Farmers used their quad bikes to carry equipment up the mountain, and children and their ponies were recruited as extras. The Brecon Beacons were transformed into the Russian Steppes and land around Hadrian's Wall. Parts of the American-financed production were also filmed at Painscastle, near Builth Wells, but the majority of the footage was shot in Ireland. It was estimated that more than 300,000 was spent in the area as the crew went about its work.

Filming is now big business in Wales, adding 8m to the Welsh economy last year. King Arthur has a mainly British cast, with Clive Owen in the title role and Keira Knightley as Queen Guinevere. Big-name movie stars are becoming a frequent sight in Wales as the country gains popularity as a location for film and TV productions.

Back in March, Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp was in Crickhowell, near Abergavenny, to shoot scenes for his latest film - and joined pub regulars for a drink. Hundreds of people from neighbouring towns and villages were drafted in as extras for The Libertine, in which Depp plays a 17th Century earl. Tretower Court - a restored courtyard house with its origins in the 14th Century - was used for much of the filming.

Tomb Raider star Angelina Jolie has visited Snowdonia in north Wales twice in recent years - firstly when the area doubled as rural China in Tomb Raider II, and again when she co-starred with Vanessa Redgrave in The Fever. The latest Bond movie, Die Another Day had a sequence shot on Penbryn beach near Cardigan, and the producer later returned to scout around the Millennium Stadium and the Cardiff Bay barrage for potential locations.

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