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Friday, 31 October 2008

Rhys Ifans to be Mr Nice Guy in Howard Marks bio-pic

Andy D passed me this story from The Telegraph.

Rhys Ifans is to play the role of fellow Welshman Howard Marks in a British film about the life of the reformed drug smuggler.

The actor will star alongside Chloe Sevigny and David Thewlis the adaption of the former cannabis dealer's best-selling autobiography.

Ifans, 40, is in final negotiations to play the part of Marks, who spent seven years at Terre Haute jail in Indiana after his hashish empire was busted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

During his 20-year career as a drug dealer, the Oxford graduate cultivated ties with members of the IRA and was apparently recruited as a spy by the British secret services.

Bernard Rose is writing and directing the film, which is based on Marks's 1996 autobiography, Mr Nice.

Sevigny is in talks to play Marks' wife Judy, who lived with him for most of the time that he was dealing drugs. She was herself imprisoned for two years and separated from her three children as a result of her involvement in Marks' affairs. Thewlis will play the IRA man with whom Marks conspired to traffic cannabis through Ireland and on to Britain.

Marks said he was pleased at the news and disclosed Ifans had been a fan. "We met in the 1990s at a Super Furry Animals gig," he said. "I didn't have a clue who he was but he wanted by autograph. He brought over all these cigarette papers and asked me to sign them.

"I thought I was doing him a really big favour but since them he has become so famous it's like he's doing me one."

Marks studied at Balliol College, Oxford in the 1960s before turning to drug dealing out of boredom. By the 1980s, he has 43 aliases, 89 phone lines and 25 worldwide companies trading as money-laundering vehicles for his dope business.

He was released from prison in April 1995 after serving seven years of his sentence, and claims he was never violent to anyone during his criminal career. He stood for parliament in 1997 on the issue of leglisation of cannabis.