Madonna cries for 'Evita'

Madonna, controversially starring in the film version of the musical Evita, has begged Argentines not to disrupt planned shooting today, writes Phil Davison.

Dressed for the role, with bunned hair and 1940s dress, the "hurt" actress-singer sought to charm Argentines at a press conference in the Park Hyatt hotel, Buenos Aires. Alongside her were her British director, Alan Parker, and co-stars Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce. All insisted the film would not denigrate the charismatic blonde who won the adulation of Argentina's masses while married to the nationalist leader General Juan Peron. She died of cancer aged 33 in 1952.

"I can't say I don't feel hurt by them [critics of her casting]," said Madonna. "But I think the negative things people say are founded on things they don't understand and I urge all of you to form your opinion after you have seen the movie."

Outside, fans sang in her defence. But nearby were graffiti saying "Long Live Evita, Madonna get out!" Conservative Argentines who still revere Eva Peron believe Madonna's sexually-explicit videos disqualify her from the part.