REGINA (CP) _ Bob Hoskins stood on the steps of the Saskatchewan legislature recently and confessed that a chilly rear end ultimately brought him to Canada.
The acclaimed British actor was raving about the script for "The Englishman’s Boy," a CBC-TV miniseries which wrapped up filming in Saskatchewan this month and is based on the Governor General’s Award-winning novel by Guy Vanderhaeghe.
"When a script comes in the morning, through the post, I take it to the loo," said Hoskins.
"And if I suddenly realize I’ve got a cold bum, I think ‘well this must be a good script.’ Well, by the time I finished this my bum was freezing," he laughed.
"I was just captured with it."
Hoskins plays Damon Ira Chance, a 1920s Hollywood movie mogul who wants to make a film about the adventurous past of an elusive old-time Western actor named Shorty McAdoo, played by Nicholas Campbell ("Da Vinci’s City Hall").
As the making of the film unfolds, a parallel narrative is also told _ that of "The Englishman’s Boy."
It’s the story of a young drifter who joins a group of American hunters in 1873 on the trail of horse thieves in southern Saskatchewan. The journey ends in a bloody battle with the Assiniboine Indians.
The historical event, known as the Cypress Hills Massacre, led to the establishment of the North West Mounted Police.
Campbell said "The Englishman’s Boy" reminded him of the Dustin Hoffman film "Little Big Man."
"(That) was a realistic (look) at the way the Indians were treated in an anti-war period like Vietnam, when Vietnam was on, and it’s come around to that again," said Campbell.
"This does feel like one of those sort of ’60s type of projects that I remember when I was starting out," he said.
"A lot of people were motivated to tell stories that underlined the ridiculous, senseless violence that goes on all the time."
Campbell, who adopted a grizzled moustache for the role, said playing McAdoo required "pulling all the stops out."
"It’s really a heavy part," said Campbell.
"It’s very much more demanding than anything I can remember playing. It’s a man of few words."
Hoskins, on the other hand, noted that he only had a few days of filming, but a lot of lines.
"I’ve got more speeches than Hamlet in this and they’re much more flowery as well," said the actor.
"Canadians do like a bit of flower."
Hoskins can thank Vanderhaeghe for those speeches since the author adapted the novel for the screenplay.
"It might deflect (people) from wanting to stick pencils in our eyes for not being true to the novel when the novelist himself has made the adaptation," said Campbell.
The film was directed by John N. Smith ("The Boys of St. Vincent"), who shot in various locations throughout Saskatchewan.
In the picturesque Qu’Appelle Valley, 50 kilometres north of Regina, filmmakers recreated Montana’s Fort Benton circa 1870.
The grand marble staircase and rotunda in the Saskatchewan legislature became a Hollywood theatre, replete with red carpet and starlets in sparkling 1920s flapper-style gowns.
The transformation awed Hoskins, who was on his first-ever visit to Saskatchewan, and thought he would be "up to my neck in snow."
"This building is amazing. I’m quite, very impressed," said Hoskins.
"And the fact that they’re giving it to us, I think that’s amazing _ imagine them doing that in (Britain’s) houses of Parliament. Can you see that happening?"
The film is expected to air in spring or fall of next year.