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Toronto hots up with star turnout

Toronto, Sept. 7 (Reuters): Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and music legend Neil Young cranked up the star power at the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday, presenting a pair of politically-charged adaptations.

Oscar winners Hopkins and Kidman were at the September 4-13 event for a gala screening of The Human Stain, based on Philip Roth’s novel of the same name.

Hopkins portrays Coleman Silk, a professor in a rural college town who quits in disgrace after an accusation of racism. His life descends further into scandal when he begins an affair with Faunia (Kidman), a much younger, uneducated janitor with her own troubled past.

The relationship also gives Silk an opportunity to face up to a lifelong secret.

Addressing the issues of race, political correctness and sexual desire, the film seems likely to spur controversy. But speaking to journalists at the festival yesterday, Hopkins said his focus was simply on his performance.

He also played down the steamy love scenes with Kidman. “All this talk about chemistry, there’s no such thing. You know your lines, show up on time, do it and go home. And have a laugh, have some sense of fun on the set,” said Hopkins.

“We had a couple of laughs. She’s got a lovely sense of humour.”

The Welsh actor won an Academy Award for best actor in 1991 for playing cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Hopkins said after repeating the role in Red Dragon and Hannibal he would never play Lecter again.

“It was good. I enjoyed it,” he said. “I’m very grateful to Dr Lecter, but that’s the end of it now. Enough’s enough.”

Music icon Neil Young brought an adaptation of a different sort to the festival with Greendale, based on his album of the same name. The movie had its world premiere at the festival on Friday. It tells the story of the Green family, a Northern California clan which includes ex-hippies, eco-activists and criminals. Greendale traces how their idyllic community comes under attack from the forces of the modern world.

While Young never appears in front of the camera, his voice is heard singing the story as well as the dialogue of his lip synching actors.

“I’ve been dreaming about making a picture for a long time but I couldn’t think of anything worth making a film about, especially spending all the money that gets spent on films today,” Young told a news conference.

“Finally I realised it’s got to be songs. I can’t write scripts, it just scares the hell out of me, but writing a song is easy.”

Young, who was born in Canada but now makes his home in California, has been a music icon for decades. He was a part of legendary bands Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and remains a hugely successful solo artist.

Directing under the name Bernard Shakey, Young described the piece as a “musical novel”.

“I think the thing that keeps it from being a music video, thank God, is that I’m not lip synching in it,” said Young.

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