- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

‘The other side’

British espionage writer John le Carre, 76, told the Sunday Times newspaper that he was tempted to defect to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The author (born David Cornwell) is known for his Cold War spy thrillers, such as “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.” He said he was not attracted to communism but was curious to find out what life was like on the other side of the Iron Curtain in the 1960s, Agence France-Presse reports.

“When you spy intensively and you get closer and closer to the border … it seems such a small step to jump … and, you know, find out the rest,” the writer said. Asked if he was genuinely tempted, he replied: “Yes, there was a time when I was; yes.”

Mr. Le Carre was an agent for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Britain’s external intelligence agency, but that career was wrecked by Kim Philby, a British double agent who blew the cover of many British agents to the Soviets’ KGB intelligence agency.

Mr. Le Carre turned down a dinner with Philby in 1987. “I just couldn’t do it … he was responsible for sending countless British agents to their deaths, to be killed — 40 or more in Albania.”

Brit wins in Toronto

“Slumdog Millionaire” by Brit Danny Boyle was selected by audiences at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival for this year’s best picture, AFP reports.

The film follows a poor boy’s rise to fortune as an unlikely contestant on an Indian version of the hit television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” with the eccentricities of life in Bombay’s slums as a backdrop.

Mr. Boyle, known for “Trainspotting” in 1996, cast London-born actor Dev Patel as the orphan Jamal, who is just one question away from winning 20 million rupees when he is arrested on suspicion of cheating.

Mr. Boyle said he originally hoped for an all Bollywood cast, but that failed because the local Indian actors “didn’t look enough like losers” for the main role of poor Jamal. “It’s a great underdog story,” he said. “In Bollywood, if you want to be a young actor breaking into the system, you have to go to the gym for six hours a day” to bulk up. “I needed a very average-looking guy.”

Ready for Broadway

Wearing jeans, a black leather jacket and a gray T-shirt, actor Daniel Radcliffe, 19, drew stares as he walked confidently through a New York office-building lobby on his way to an interview.

Upstairs in a TV studio, the 19-year-old discussed the character of Alan Strang, the pivotal role in “Equus,” the Peter Shaffer play about why this youth blinds a stable full of horses. Mr. Radcliffe, as Alan, opens Sept. 25 in New York, according to Associated Press.

“The brilliant thing about Alan is that you wouldn’t notice him walking down the street,” Mr. Radcliffe says. “He’s kind of inconspicuous. He’s like Alec Guinness in all those films where he just sort of becomes invisible as soon as he walks into a crowd.”

Compiled from wire reports

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