Being John Malkovich, he bought a hotel in Cardiff

John Malkovich, currently starring in the eponymous, off-beat Hollywood film, is investing his money in an equally quirky venture. As critics continue to be held in thrall by Being John Malkovich, the actor is ploughing his fee into a budget hotel in Cardiff called The Big Sleep.

"I think the thing about investments is that they re always dangerous," said Mr Malkovich, as he visited the Welsh capital. "I do not see the point of doing something like this unless I am interested."

Mr Malkovich, 47, star of a string of box office hits, is one of six partners in the hotel, where room prices start from just £45. He stayed in one of them this week when he visited to inspect the fittings.

His involvement in the hotel, on a site formerly occupied by British Gas, is down to the man behind the project, Cosmo Fry, a friend of Mr Malkovich's for the past 15 years. The pair are neighbours in Provence, southern France, where they both have holiday homes. "He is a partner - there are six of us. I cannot tell you how much he has invested but it is a significant sum in proportion to what was raised," Mr Fry said yesterday.

"All the partners wanted to see the hotel. Of course, what he brings is the whole PR thing. He is able to pull off that sort of stunt, which is also good for himself as well."

Mr Fry, a member of the chocolate dynasty, who claims that one of his ancestors invented the first chocolate bar at the start of the 18th century, says he wants to reinvent the budget hotel sector. He hopes the Cardiff venture will be the first of a chain of hotels, in which rooms will not cost a fortune but the atmosphere will be high-style.

"John's very interested in design," Mr Fry said. "He designed all the furniture at his house in France and he is interested in the interior design of the hotel. That is one of the main reasons he was interested in getting involved."

Mr Malkovich insists, however, that the hotel is not about to take over his life. "[My life] is getting the kids off to school, picking them up and making them lunch and dinner and working in the garden," he said. "It is very precious time with my children."