A blond Dylan serenades Sundance with film about an ageing rock star

By Cahal Milmo
Friday 24 January 2003 01:00

Bob Dylan arrived at the Sundance Film Festival yesterday to mark his return to acting after 15 years.

The singer was attending the premiere of his latest film, Masked and Anonymous, in which he plays an ageing rock star staging one last concert in a country ravaged by civil war.

The film, which was co-funded by the BBC with a budget of $10m (£6.25m), appears with a cast bursting with members of the Hollywood A-list including Penelope Cruz, Jessica Lange, Val Kilmer and Ed Harris.

Many of the cast, including Cruz, who is one of the world's most sought-after actresses and the girlfriend of Tom Cruise, agreed to accept basic union rates of pay to work with Dylan, 61, who attended the independent film festival in Utah with dyed blond hair.

The troubadour of the 1960s, who continues to tour almost continuously, plays the character of Jack Fate, a cult musician who has fallen on hard times. A description of the character on the film's official website yesterday said: "Twenty years ago, he refused to co-operate with the powers that were and parlay his early success into a career. Instead, he has lived the past few decades in relative obscurity, playing honky tonks and bars, content to be a wandering minstrel."

The producers of the film, which features at least 30 minutes of Dylan performing several of his greatest hits, insisted it was not autobiographical.

Despite his status as one of the most influential musicians and lyricists of the 20th century, Dylan has not enjoyed similar success in the acting field. His last two films, Renaldo and Clara, which he starred in and directed in 1978, and Hearts of Fire, a 1987 venture with the late Ian Dury and Rupert Everett, were dismissed as turkeys.

The latest Dylan vehicle faces stiff competition at this year's Sundance Festival. Maldonado Miracle, the directorial debut of the actress Salma Hayek, about the media frenzy that ensues in a town where a statue of Jesus starts bleeding, received a standing ovation at its premiere.

Hollywood studios are also in a bidding war for the rights to The Station Agent, a comedy about a dwarf who retreats from society to a disused railway station in New Jersey.

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