Centre Court turns into movie set

Updated: 25 February 2007 08:48 IST

Centre Court at Wimbledon was transformed into a movie set on Thursday.

Centre Court turns into movie set

Wimbledon: Centre Court at Wimbledon was transformed into a movie set Thursday. Filming for the feature motion picture Wimbledon came to the All England Club. Two scenes were shot, pushing back the scheduled start of play by 30 minutes. Wimbledon is a romantic comedy about an aging British player who goes on a winning streak at the world's most famous tennis tournament. Off the court, he tries to win the heart of an up-and-coming American tennis star. Normally subdued Centre Court fans took to their feet to provide screaming and cheering. Actor Paul Bettany, who plays plucky Brit Peter Colt, an unranked player who gets a wildcard into Wimbledon, found the experience unnerving. "It was such a rush, looking out at the crowd, I was so nervous," said Bettany, who admitted he got goosebumps as he walked out. "It was like nothing I've ever experienced. My legs were starting to buckle. It was such a shock, a rush, I've done plenty of theatre and it just doesn't compare. How players then go and play is extraordinary, the calm they must have," he said. Bettany's scenes were against his American archrival, third-seeded Jake Hammond, played by Austin Nichols. The scoreboard told part of the story: An epic match was at 5-4 in the fifth set with Colt holding a match point. Whether he wins or not will be disclosed when the movie is released in September of 2004. Director Richard Loncraine, who made Richard III and The Gathering Storm, waited two years to get Bettany. The actor's love interest will be Kirsten Dunst of Spider-Man and Bring It On fame. "I'm trying to do for tennis what Raging Bull did for boxing," Loncraine said. Bettany, who starred in the multi-Oscar award winning A Beautiful Mind as the mysterious roommate of Russell Crowe's character John Forbes Nash, said he was attracted to the comedy aspect of the film. "The script is very funny and it works. It's really magical," Bettany said. "I've never done a romantic comedy. Often I'm playing the baddie, and this gives me a chance to do a romantic comedy sports film, which is a very small genre". Bettany hadn't picked up a racket before starting training six months ago with 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. Loncraine said Bettany could have been a tennis pro if he'd been trained as a child. Bettany disagreed. "I don't think I have the competitive streak," he said. "They spend hours and hours and hours a day practicing. I need to do things like drink beer and smoke". He likes to watch videotapes of Wimbledon finals, however. "My favourite is either a Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe or, more recently, Goran Ivanisevic-Pat Rafter," he said. "I swap sides every time I watch it. At first I was going for Ivanisevic, but the other day I was shouting for Rafter". Wimbledon is being produced by Working Title films, which produced the hit movies Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary and About a Boy. Crews spent six months filming while Wimbledon prepared for this year's championships. They will film more crowd scenes during the tournament and six more weeks at the club after the event. (AP)

Topics : Tennis Andy Roddick
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