Hollywood legend's Suffolk drama

IT seems an unlikely scenario - Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds joining an am-dram production in a quaint Suffolk village, even using one of the county council's library vans as his “star trailer”.

Brad Jones

IT seems an unlikely scenario - Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds joining an am-dram production in a quaint Suffolk village, even using one of the county council's library vans as his “star trailer”.

But that's the plot which unfolds in new British comedy A Bunch of Amateurs, which has just hit the big screen following its Royal Film Performance premiere last month in front of The Queen.

And while the rolling hills give away the fact the film was not shot in Suffolk - instead the film-makers chose the Isle of Man - the county will undoubtedly see its profile raised by the movie.

Also starring Oscar-nominated Imelda Staunton, Sir Derek Jacobi and Samantha Bond, it is set in the fictional village of Stratford St John - although Stratford St Andrew and Stratford St Mary do get a mention.

Reynolds plays Jefferson Steel, an ageing Hollywood has-been who is tricked by his agent into taking on the role of King Lear in what he believes will be the next big production in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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However, in reality he is heading to Suffolk for the latest Stratford Players production of the Shakespeare classic, and his prima-donna tendencies soon cause major friction with the locals.

While the film was not shot locally, Suffolk County Council's library service features heavily with a mock-up of one of its mobile vans being converted into Steel's trailer.

The producers contacted the authority several years ago and it agreed to provide logos to put onto an older-looking van - the current mobile libraries looking too sophisticated.

A council spokesman said: “The film company got in touch with us and explained what they were looking for. After having a look through the script, we agreed to provide some logos which they used for the library van.

“We were pleased to get involved and hope it helps raise the profile of the county.”

The film premiered at the Odeon in Leicester Square in November, having been chosen by the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund as the 2008Royal Film Performance.

It was attended by the charity patron, Her Majesty the Queen, in what is her annual visit to the cinema in the West End.

The charity supports a diverse range of people across the film, cinema and television industry who suffer illness, bereavement or unemployment.

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