Yo! Ioan Lined Up to Play Blair in Eagerly Awaited Biopic of George W Bush; Anthony Hopkins Is Tipped to Play White House Hawk Dick Cheney
Byline: Robin Turner
TOP Welsh stars Ioan Gruffudd and Sir Anthony Hopkins are being lined up for roles in director Oliver Stone's W, the eagerly awaited biopic of US President George W Bush.
The show business press in the US says 34-year-old Ioan Gruffudd, who grew up in Cardiff, is currently in final talks to play staunch Bush ally, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
And the Los Angeles Times is tipping Port Talbot-born Anthony Hopkins, who celebrated his 70th birthday in the steel town last New Year's Eve, to play Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Hopkins is well used to Stone's direction in biopics, having played the disgraced 37th US President Richard Nixon in the highly acclaimed 1995 film Nixon.
The role came just three years after Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for what is probably his best-remembered role, serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs in which Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling picked up the Best Actress Oscar.
If Grufudd takes the Tony Blair role in W as expected, his first port of call is likely to be his movie star friend Michael Sheen.
The actor, who hails from Baglan, Port Talbot, won rave reviews for his portrayal of Tony Blair in the 2003 Channel 4 play The Deal.
And his second part as the British Prime Minister three years later in the movie The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, won him equally warm praise.
Filming on W is due to start in a few months time and the movie has a planned 2009 release date.
Yesterday Western Mail film reviewer Gary Slay maker said he was "amazed" the role of Tony Blair had not gone to Michael Sheen.
He said, "I think casting Ioan Grufudd as Blair borders on lunacy, because in my view you cannot go from playing something like Mr Fantastic to playing Tony Blair.
"It could be that Michael Sheen is busy, because I know he is wanted to play Brian Clough in a new film about the manager based on a book. …