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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Hammer blow
By Francis Keogh

Elijah Wood
Actor Elijah Wood was filmed in the crowd at Upton Park
Film makers have angered West Ham with a new football hooligan movie featuring Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood.

The east London club gave access to its Upton Park home after being told the film had an anti-violence message.

But the Hammers and local community are angry after learning the movie centres on a group of thugs, and is named Green Street after a nearby road.

Local mayor Sir Robin Wales said: "We don't want it, we don't need this sort of publicity."

However, the film makers insist the movie does not attempt to glamourise violence.

"I promised them it would be a film that fundamentally opposed violence, and they read part of the script," said director Lexi Alexander.

The script is based on an American student who drops out of university, moves to England and becomes embroiled in football violence.

Wood posed in a Hammers shirt on the pitch before a match against Gillingham in 2004 as he prepared for the film, then titled The Yank.

The actor was introduced to spectators and signed autographs before shooting some crowd scenes.

But it later emerged the project focused on a group of hooligans, bearing clear echoes of the real-life Inter City Firm, a notorious group of troublemakers associated with West Ham.

FILM FACTS
In the US, the film is called Green Street Hooligans
The thugs in the movie are known as the Green Street Elite
Wood attended several West Ham games, including a local derby against Millwall
The film is released in the UK on 9 September
The film's title was changed first to Hooligans and eventually Green Street, the name of the main road running alongside the ground, and an area famed as a centre of Asian shopping, food and culture.

It is understood West Ham were initially happy the film would have a strong anti-violence message, but officials became concerned when the crew returned the day after the match, and the nature of the crowd shots became clear.

The club has worked tirelessly towards eradicating hooliganism at its matches.

A spokesman told BBC Sport: "We gave them limited access to the stadium. If we'd known the full extent of the violence in the film, we would not have given them the co-operation we did."

German director Alexander denies suggestions West Ham were duped into filming.

"It's an urban myth that we scammed them - they are not that stupid," she told the Evening Standard.

"They were worried when some paparazzi shots came out of the more graphic scenes, but when they saw the final product, they were happy."

We are about to spend millions doing up part of Green Street
Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales
Wales, the mayor of Newham borough which includes Upton Park, has not seen the film but is unhappy with its title.

"We've tried to get copies of it, but they've not let us see them. I guess they are a bit embarrassed about what they are doing," he told BBC Five Live.

He added: "The film shouldn't be called Green Street, they shouldn't set it in our borough.

"They want to make money out of it and they don't care if it upsets or causes problems locally or for West Ham. It's irresponsible."

He said Green Street is a thriving Asian centre and a major regional shopping attraction.

"It has a real buzz to it. People come to this street, and are amazed by it," said Wales.

Earlier in 2005, Wales was a key local figure in backing London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics, and helped arrange a victory parade when West Ham won promotion back to the Premiership.

He is worried the film could attract a cult following and see curious tourists attracted to Green Street for the wrong reasons.

"We've got the Olympics coming here. We are trying to raise aspirations and expectations - we don't need these people whose only interest is making a buck," he said.




SEE ALSO
Rings star launches hooligan film
23 Aug 05 |  Entertainment


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