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  Earl McRae
Sue Dewar
Max Haines
Greg Weston

Mon, October 27, 2003

Zorro sequel unmasked
Banderas agrees to encore as filmmakers woo Catherine Zeta-Jones
By LOUIS B. HOBSON, Calgary Sun

HOLLYWOOD -- Antonio Banderas has been unmasked for too long. He's agreed to suit up again to play the masked avenger in Mask of Zorro 2.

"We're in the final stages of negotiations with Antonio and Catherine Zeta-Jones. If they are both available and everything goes as planned, we could begin shooting in Mexico in April or May for a 2005 release," says Martin Campbell, who directed the 1998 hit The Mask of Zorro.

"We've rejected several scripts over the past four years but have a great one now, which is why the project has been green-lit."

Campbell says "it's a great role for Catherine. Her character will definitely be on a par with Antonio's this time."

He also promises "this one is much more than your typical sequel. It's a full-out new film that uses the same two central characters."

Campbell directed the epic adventure Beyond Borders after Oliver Stone left the project over a budgetary dispute.

Clive Owen, who stars with Angelina Jolie in Beyond Borders, has just finished filming King Arthur for producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

"It's a new take on the King Arthur story. It's unlike anything about Arthur we've seen on screen before," says Owen. "What I didn't realize before I took the movie is that King Arthur is actually a romantic myth that developed over hundreds of years.

"It was set in medieval times. Our version is set in 500 A.D. when the Roman Empire is crumbling."

Owen says he plays Arthur "as half-Roman. He is the commander of a crack team of military men who gets the mission from hell."

He says it was an exhausting shoot because "we're on horseback for about 60% of the film. I had only done a bit of horseback riding before we started so it proved most uncomfortable."

Owen has just signed to star opposite Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts in the Mike Nichols drama Closer. He is also being touted to succeed Pierce Brosnan as the next James Bond.

Will Ferrell is discovering there is a great deal of life after Saturday Night Live.

Ferrell, who stars in the holiday comedy Elf, which opens Nov. 7, is currently shooting as the lead in Woody Allen's next film.

"We're called The Woody Allen Fall 2004 movie, and that's all I'm allowed to say about it," says Ferrell, whose films include Superstar, The Ladies Man and Old School. "Apparently, Woody saw Old School and liked me. I guess he's doing his first gross-out comedy."

Ferrell stars opposite Jason Biggs, Amanda Peet and Chloe Sevigny in the Allen film.

He has also signed for Confederacy of Dunces.

"Even though Drew Barrymore has signed to star in it and help produce it we haven't got a studio behind us yet."

Ferrell has also signed to star opposite Nicole Kidman in Bewitched.

Mark Ruffalo is making up for lost time.

Ruffalo struggled for five years in Los Angeles doing more bartending than acting before playwright Kenneth Lonergan cast him in his play This is Our Youth and then in his film You Can Count on Me.

Suddenly Ruffalo was a hot property getting roles in The Last Castle, XX/YY and Windtalkers.

Just after accepting the role as Mel Gibson's brother in Signs he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The role went to Joaquin Phoenix.

"I thought I would never act again," says Ruffalo of his medical emergency. "Fortunately it was benign. When I came out of surgery my face was fine but two days later the left side went paralyzed.

"I struggled for 10 months before the nerve functioned properly again."

Since his recovery, Ruffalo has filmed the Jim Carrey comedy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as well as the dramas In the Cut, with Meg Ryan, and My Life Without Me, with Sarah Polley. Both films open Friday.

"Grappling with that tumour helped me get my priorities straight. I'm first and foremost a family man. I have a wife and two-year-old child. I am fortunately (earning) enough to be supporting them by being an actor, which is a profession I love. I am a very lucky man."

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