Burton film eyes Cardiff world premiere

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Josh Richards
Image caption,
Josh Richards has played Burton more than 800 times

A movie about the life of Richard Burton, filmed on location in Wales, is hoping to get its world premiere in Cardiff in the New Year.

The film is based on a successful one-man show, Playing Burton, that has toured the world for 16 years.

Writer Mark Jenkins described the film as "wonderful experiment" aimed at arthouse film and theatre-goers.

He said: "I believe we capture a little piece of Burton in the film."

Playing Burton received its world premiere on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1994 and has been performed more than 1,200 times, including at the Sydney Opera House.

Image caption,
Richard Burton died in 1984, aged 58

Josh Richards, who plays Burton in the film version, has portrayed the Welsh actor on stage in the production more than 800 times.

Director Wyndham Price said Richards, who plays other parts in the production and film, gives a "masterful performance".

"He doesn't look at all like Burton but he manages to capture his intensity so very well, and that almost paradoxical testosterone filled sensitivty that he had."

The film has been shot on location in Pembrokeshire and Pontrhydyfen, Burton's bithplace near Port Talbot.

Born Richard Jenkins in 1925, Burton became one of the most famous actors in the world, earning seven Oscar nominations without ever winning the famous statue.

"Burton was unique," said Mr Jenkins. "He was not just an actor. He was an extremely thoughtful man who wanted to be a writer and could have taught at Oxford University. His knowledge of Shakespeare was incredibly comprehensive."

Mr Price said the challenge of the film was to turn a one-man theatre production into something cinematic.

He said: "We have not changed the original script too much because it is a proven concept. We tried to use location and to change the nature of Josh's performance. I think it works very well."

The film has been financed by two unnamed benefactors and with money from the director and producer.

Currently in post-production, the film is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

"We'll take it on the festival circuit. But I am almost convinced it will find its way onto BBC Four or Channel 4 after a limited theatrical release.

"We're hoping to have a prestigious world premiere in Cardiff in the New Year, " said Mr Price.

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