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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 13:16 GMT
Malkovich 'fears for UK films'
John Malkovich
Malkovich's debut behind the camera was The Dancer Upstairs
Actor and director John Malkovich has spoken of his concern for British film after a tax loophole was closed, nearly killing off his latest movie project.

Malkovich told the Daily Telegraph he feared film-makers would go abroad to shoot their movies without tax breaks in the UK.

The Libertine, in which he stars and also produces, was saved when the Isle of Man Film Commission stepped in.

"In this business you're used to the sky falling on your head," he said.

Malkovich, who has starred in films such as Dangerous Liaisons and Of Mice and Men, stood to lose 300,000 if the film had folded, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The Libertine, based on the Lord of Rochester, a courtier to King Charles II, will star Oscar-nominated actors Johnny Depp and Samantha Morton.

Malkovich admitted that some film companies may have abused the tax system but believes "some porpoises got caught in the net with the tuna", according to the Telegraph.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp will shoot in the Isle of Man from Wednesday

The loophole allowed "tax partnerships" to be set up in which investors would put money into a project but pull out before the film made money.

The government said investors went into such projects knowing they would make a loss - and so simply avoiding paying tax on their sum.

But Malkovich said in The Daily Telegraph interview that the UK was already an expensive place to film due to the strength of sterling.

"Why wouldn't you in future go to Romania or Bulgaria or Hungary, which are probably a third of the price, and take a few of your key English crew with you?" he said.

"I would urge the government not to do something that damages the British film industry, but at the end of the day they're the ones in charge," he added.

Panic over

Isle of Man authorities set up a film commission in 1995 and have produced over 50 films and television dramas since then including Waking Ned, Tom's Midnight Garden and I Capture the Castle.

The Commission can offer up to 25% of their budget provided at least half of the film is shot on the island.

Malkovich was already in the Isle of Man filming Colour Me Kubrick, about a real life London travel agent who impersonated the well-known director, when the crisis over The Libertine became apparent.

He told The Telegraph it was a simple transaction that sealed the deal.

"The thing about the Isle of Man is that it's a very small group and they can move really quickly... with the Isle of Man it was a handshake. I just explained the situation during dinner, and 15 minutes later it was agreed."

Malkovich said he hoped the film would prove its worth.

"I think it's an awfully good script, and we have a lot of very talented people involved. But will it be successful? That you never know. You just hope for the best," he told the Daily Telegraph.

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