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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 December 2005, 10:14 GMT
Goodbye Mr Darcy, hello minister
A low budget tale of lax morals and religious revival in an Irish village has attracted a big name actor.

Matthew MacFadyen, best known for his role in the BBC spy drama Spooks, is one of the stars of Ireland's latest feature film, Middletown.

Matthew MacFadyen
MacFadyen plays a minister in the Irish movie

It tells the story of ambition and betrayal as two brothers battle for the heart and soul of their home town, threatening to tear one family apart.

Filming began five weeks ago in Glaslough in County Monaghan, which is home to the Castle Leslie estate.

The crew later moved to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, County Down, where the final scenes were shot on Friday.

Despite the cold and the long hours, MacFadyen - who also starred opposite Keira Knightley in a film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice - enjoyed himself.

"It's a brilliant script, a brilliant director. I've had one of the nicest times on this. Fingers crossed," he said.

In Middletown, MacFadyen plays a clergyman returning to his home village.

The crew spent the last days of filming at Cultra
The crew spent the last days of filming at Cultra

"He has been away from his home town for a long time training to become a minister," explained MacFadyen.

"Then he returns and finds that the place has fallen into sin and corruption while he's been away.

"He decides he's going to save it."

McFadyen won lots of praise for his portrayal of Mr Darcy in the movie, Pride and Prejudice, and the film netted a Golden Globe nomination.

So the actor is well used to playing dark and brooding characters.

""In Spooks, I was quite stern, serious, saving the world everyday," he laughed.

"Mr Darcy, of course, serious. Mr Darcy doesn't smile much. Certainly, there aren't many gags in Middletown."

Middletown also features Irish actress Sorcha Cusack, Daniel Mays who starred in Vera Drake and Gerard McSorley who won Best Actor for the film Omagh.

With a budget of 2m, the production has been financed by the Irish Film Board and the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission.

It will be released in cinemas across Ireland next summer.



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