Film star boosts his local cinema

FROM Hollywood to Harwich - one of Britain's biggest film stars gave his local cinema a boost last night at a special screening of his new film.

James Hore

FROM Hollywood to Harwich - one of Britain's biggest film stars gave his local cinema a boost last night at a special screening of his new film.

Clive Owen was back at the historic Electric Palace Theatre which was showing his latest picture, action thriller The International.

Following the film, lucky fans had the chance to meet the screen star at a question and answer session.

Mr Owen, who has starred in movie hits such as Sin City, Closer and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, became patron of the cinema in November 2006 and has helped support the team of dedicated volunteers who run it.

He and his wife, Sarah-Jane Fenton, who have a home at nearby Wrabness, used to watch films at the old cinema in the early part of their relationship and Mr Owen offered his backing to the Palace when it emerged that costly structural repairs were needed in order for the site to remain operating.

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With his support, a fundraising campaign successfully reached its target and the repairs have since been undertaken, with the cinema now going from strength to strength.

Peter Hadley, a member of the Harwich Electric Palace Trust, told the EADT recently that Mr Owen had been a “surprisingly hands-on” patron and was regularly in touch.

He said: “He's always keen to know what's going on here. Every time he's back he meets up with one of us.

“He has been away in Australia shooting a movie but he's surprisingly hands-on really. This screening and question and answer session was entirely his idea - it's his baby.”

The Electric Palace first opened its doors in 1911 but was closed in 1956 after 45 years of continued screenings, only interrupted by flooding in 1953.

It reopened in 1981 after being painstakingly restored by the Harwich Electric Palace Trust and now runs as a club, with a small membership fee payable on entry.