Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 15:26 UK

Loach like Ferguson, says Cantona

Eric Cantona and Ken Loach
Loach won the Palme d'Or in 2006 for The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Working with director Ken Loach was like being managed by Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, footballer-turned-actor Eric Cantona has said.

Cantona is playing himself in Loach's Palme d'Or contender Looking for Eric.

"The way they go about getting 100% out of the actors or the players is very similar," he told a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival.

The British film stars Steve Evets as a Manchester United fanatic postman whose life is touched by visions of his hero.

Loach, 72, is hoping to repeat his success of 2006 when he won the Palme for The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

Cantona, who became a hero for Manchester United fans while playing under Ferguson between 1992 and 1997, said: "They are very similar.

"These are two activities that are totally different, but the way they go about getting 100% out of the actors or the players is very similar.

"The great difficulty is to maintain your quality from match to match, from film to film."

Cantona, 42, added: "Ferguson and Ken Loach are where they are because they have an enormous amount of humility."

'Military operation'

Loach said he wanted make a film that was more light-hearted than his more serious recent outings.

"But you can say that a comedy is a tragedy with a happy ending and the story in this film could be a tragedy. But equally it could be a comedy," he added.

"We felt what we had to do was play the story with truth and sometimes that's funny and sometimes that's sad.

"But if you play it with truth, that's okay."

Leading man Evets, 49, said he had no idea Cantona would be acting in the film until the Frenchman suddenly turned up on set.

"They'd got him in there like a military operation behind this curtain," Evets added.

"There he was, bang, in my room - it was dead surreal.

"It was like an acid trip condensed into one minute. I was in a scene with Eric Cantona."

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