Banter puts cabbie on road to Hollywood stardom

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Taxi driver Colin Hayday had a lawyer in the back of his cab once which led to a pounds 50m property deal involving terrorists. Then he had a copywriter and the property deal turned into a film script. Next came the fare who was a film director. And now Mr Hayday says he is on the way to becoming a millionaire.

The extraordinary story of 53-year-old Mr Hayday's rise to fame and fortune began when he picked up copywriter Jo Reynolds at Paddington in l994. He told his passenger of his involvement in a pounds 50m deal set up with a previous passenger, a lawyer. But the deal fell through.

Mr Reynolds was so intrigued by the tale that he urged Mr Hayday to write a film script. When he heard Mr Hayday was dyslexic, he offered to do it himself in return for half the proceeds of any sale.

Two months later Mr Hayday picked up an Irishman in Soho who turned out to be Neil Jordan, director of The Crying Game, Mona Lisa, and Michael Collins. The script was sent off to him but, it was "not for him".

Then on Christmas Eve l995 Mr Hayday had an American passenger, John Frank Rosenblum, head of Lighthouse Productions. He, too, was sent the script and Mr Hayday got his big break.

Mr Rosenblum phoned to say he was putting together a production budget of $15m. It was agreed that the lead character in the film, provisionally titled The Opportunist, would be called Colin Hayday, and his name would appear in the credits.

The producers, claims Mr Hayday, are looking to established stars like Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and Nigel Hawthorne for the lead role, with Michelle Pfeiffer appearing opposite. Mr Hayday says he also helped to find some of the cast for the film from behind the wheel. Tim Roth, the star of Pulp Fiction, is looking at the script after being tipped off about the production by a friend who had been a passenger.

And the director Graham Baker (Alien Nation and The Omen - The Final Conflict), hailed the cab at Great Marlborough Street.