HERO BELL RINGS TRUE; Billy Elliot Star Jamie Got to Keep His Native North-East Accent after Talking Round the Director of New Superhero Movie Jumper
Byline: By Siobhan Synnot
HE won our hearts as a schoolboy when he pirouetted his way out of a tough mining town. Now Billy Elliot actor Jamie Bell has a new set of high kicks - as an action star.
The 21-year-old is on the verge of cult status for his role as a comic book hero in new sci-fi movie Jumper - but he is still well in touch with his north-east roots.
Jamie - who headlines alongside Star Wars actors Samuel L. Jackson and Hayden Christensen - even persuaded the director to let him use his own accent.
He recalled: "I said to the director, 'Why do all the comic book characters have to be America?' because it's very rare you see one from somewhere else.
"So I asked if I could do it in my own accent and they said, 'Well, if they can understand you, that would be good.'
"I don't think we've ever had a character from Billingham, Teeside. It's great because it allows me to put more of myself in the role."
And the idea has really taken off.
Jamie added: "The guy who wrote the original Jumper books has gone back and written another all about my character with aback-story that he comes from a town in the north east of England. So there."
It's the first time the young actor has played a northerner since his 2000 breakthrough role as Billy.
Since then, he has astonished audiences with his ability to mimic American soldiers for Clint Eastwood in Flags of Our Fathers, New York sailors in King Kong and, last autumn, his faultless Scottish accent for Hallem Foe.
That said, this globe-trotting star's own accent has become a tad confused.
At the Edinburgh Film Festival last August he sported a nasal twang from halfway between Teeside and Manhattan.
Indignant at the reminder, he insisted: "I'm still the same, same friends, still the same old me."
Indeed, the fact he insisted on being himself in such a major film speaks volumes.
In Jumper, he and Christensen play teenagers who can teleport to any place in the world, simply by thinking about it.
On their trail is Jackson, leader of an organisation called the Pallids which is sworn to hunt down and kill their kind. Jamie said: "It's more hip than Spider-Man. Peter Parker fights for justice but our hero thinks, 'Great, I can rob banks and get women easily.' It's a much more interesting way to look at it.
"My superpower is teleportation but you don't just click your heels three times and go. It's much more aggressive - hence the film's title, Jumper."
The role saw Jamie and Christensen filming in nine countries across the world on locations ranging from Big Ben to the pyramids and the frozen ice caps in Canada.
They even used Rome's Colosseum - the first time any movie has been allowed to film in the ancient theatre.
But, of all the countries he has visited, Jamie says that Scotland has a special place in his heart.
BEFORE Billy Elliot, he appeared in a musical at the Edinburgh Fringe as part of a youth theatre group. …