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Tom Brook Saturday, 26 February, 2000, 02:51 GMT
Hart closes in on Hollywood
Ian Hart in the Michael Winterbottom film Wonderland
By BBC News Online entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

British actor Ian Hart is no superstar but in the States his rising profile gets a further boost this week with the release an Irish comedy The Closer You Get.

The film opens while Hart is still impressing American audiences with his strong role opposite Ralph Fiennes in The End of The Affair in which he plays a determined private investigator.
Hart features in romantic hit End of the Affair
In The Closer You Get Hart is Kieran O'Donnagh, an Irish bachelor in a small County Donegal village who hatches a plan with his male friends who have grown tired of the local women.

The men advertise in a Miami newspaper in the hope of luring some bikini-clad American beauties to attend their annual village dance, hoping this will transform their lacklustre love lives.

The impending arrival of these women dramatically changes village life as the men begin to preen themselves.

Hart, 35, says his character, the local butcher, "thinks the best way to get attention is to be snappy - he goes and dyes his hair bleach blonde peroxide, wears red crushed velvet suits".
Diverse talent: Ian Hart
He says the point of the story is that his character and the other men miss the point. Nearly all of them eventually realise the relationships they really need are possible with the women who live locally in their midst.

Hart's performance is more noteworthy than the film itself. For the actor it represents one more distinctive character he has brought to the screen.

Screen credits

He has an incredibly diverse body of work. He played John Lennon in Backbeat, the lead role in Ken Loach's Land and Freedom, as well as strong parts in three Neil Jordan films.

He also portrayed the role of Bingham, a surveillance spy in the Hollywood film Enemy of The State starring Will Smith.
Hart played in Will Smith hit Enemy of the State
The actor, who seems to relish artistic integrity, says he has few qualms about working in the heart of commercial film making in Los Angeles.

He believes Hollywood can corrupt but thinks "there are some very creative people in that environment, who themselves are not really happy with certain things that are wrong with the studio system, but they still might desire to make great films, there's a lot of great film makers there".

What makes Hart distinct is that he hardly ever plays the same kind of character twice - each screen portrayal is a well-observed study of a very different type.

He claims you "can't repeat yourself if you are given an opportunity like this, which is a great life to be an actor, why waste it on just repeating yourself. Why not just choose the opportunity, see the opportunity to do something different every time?"
The Closer You Get is by Full Monty producer Uberto Pasolini
The Closer You Get is produced by Uberto Pasolini, the man who brought the box office smash The Fully Monty to the big screen.

But The Closer Get is unlikely to come anywhere close to matching that picture's staggering success.

The film's American distributors are trying to tap into the market that likes quaint Irish comedies. The company met with some success last year with Waking Ned, and they're hoping that The Closer You Get will reap similar rewards.

Not everyone enjoys this vein of comedy that has a tendency to present the rural Irish in clichéd and somewhat patronising terms as sweet and lyrical folk.

Hart's next film is in Being Frank, in which he plays a low-rent nightclub singer in Glasgow in the 1950s who likes to belt out Sinatra songs.

There's every indication that audiences will witness one more memorable performance from an actor who's amassing a formidable reputation - and who many believe given the right role in the right film could become a major screen phenomenon.

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