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Billy El­liot comes of age.

The boy who won hearts world­wide as Billy El­liot is al­most anony­mous in his most high- pro­file role to date, writes JAMIE Bell could well be the first per­son in cin­e­matic his­tory to play a star­ring role in a Steven Spiel­berg film but still walk the streets un­recog­nised.

Sip­ping cof­fee in Lon­don’s Soho, Bell is savour­ing his lack of su­per­star­dom.

He got swept up in the emo­tion­ally ma­nip­u­la­tive roller- coaster of fame when, at the age of 14, he be­came a world­wide phe­nom­e­non as the bal­let- danc­ing boy from

Now 25, and with feet firmly on the ground, Bell stars as pos­si­bly the most fa­mous car­toon reporter – Tintin – in a film cre­ated by two of the world’s big­gest di­rec­tors, Spiel­berg and Peter Jack­son.

Thanks to per­for­mance- cap­ture tech­nol­ogy, which takes live move­ment and ren­ders it into an­i­ma­tion, Bell was able to travel the world in

Billy El­liot.

Lucy Carne

The Ad­ven­tures of Tintin: The Se­cret of the Uni­corn

with­out ever leav­ing a Hol­ly­wood stu­dio.

‘‘ I didn’t even have to dye my hair,’’ he says. ‘‘ I am the first gin­ger hero. It’s pretty amaz­ing.’’

He cor­rects him­self when re­minded the Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter is an­other no­table flame- haired fig­ure.

‘‘ What’s his name? Her name? Right, me and Ju­lia, rep­re­sent­ing the gin­gers of the world united,’’ Bell shouts.

It’s hard not to get swept up with Bell in the adrenalin ride of

With his fluffy white dog Snowy at his heels, and swash­buck­ling drunk Cap­tain Had­dock by his side, Tintin de­lighted

Tintin. gen­er­a­tions of car­toon read­ers as he trav­elled to the Congo, Egypt, South Amer­ica, op­pres­sive East­ern Euro­pean na­tions and even the moon, bat­tling spies, pi­rates and opera stars.

Ge­orges Remi – aka Herge – cre­ated the char­ac­ter Tintin, an earnest boy reporter, while work­ing at a Bel­gian news­pa­per.

More than 80 years later, Tintin’s ad­ven­tures have re­sulted in 350 mil­lion comics sold in his na­tive Bel­gium to Aus­tralia, In­dia and be­yond. But he is vir­tu­ally un­known in the US.

Bell is con­vinced once it be­comes clear Tintin is a fam­ily- friendly In­di­ana Jones with a dog, Amer­ica will buy it.

‘‘ The US has no idea. All they will know is that it’s a Spiel­berg film. That’s worked in the past,’’ Bell says.

It also worked for him – Spiel­berg’s ground- break­ing CGI mas­ter­piece

was the first film Bell saw in a movie the­atre when he was eight. ‘‘ It blew my mind,’’ he says. Now he’s the lead in Spiel­berg’s lat­est tech­no­log­i­cally im­pres­sive project.

The use of per­for­mance cap­ture, the film­mak­ing tech­nol­ogy most re­cently seen pow­er­ing the stars of and

has split Hol­ly­wood. One side of the de­bate em­braces it as a rev­o­lu­tion in film- mak­ing. Oth­ers ar­gue it takes away from the craft of act­ing.


Planet of the Apes,



Rise of the

NEW AD­VEN­TURE: Jamie Bell plays boy reporter Tintin with ( be­low) side­kick Cap­tain Had­dock ( Andy Serkis).

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