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New Movie Revitalizes Director Benton

November 3, 2003

SEATTLE (AP) _ Making ``The Human Stain″ was more than a good experience for 70-year-old director Robert Benton. It ``revitalized″ him.

``Before this came along,″ Benton told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, ``I was about ready to pack it in. After my last film (’Twilight), I thought, this is it, I’m through. But now I don’t feel that way at all.″

Benton got Hollywood’s attention 36 years ago when he co-wrote ``Bonnie and Clyde.″ He has won two Oscars _ one in 1979 for his direction of ``Kramer vs. Kramer″ and one in 1984 for his screenplay of ``Places in the Heart,″ which he also directed. His work since then, though, has never reached that level of critical or commercial success.

``The Human Stain,″ based on the novel of the same name by Phillip Roth, is about a light-skinned black college professor who has passed as white for most of his life.

Roth’s story, Benton told the newspaper Sunday, is ``a metaphor for the way all of us ‘pass’ for something we’re not _ that is, play a role in life.″

``When I came to New York in the ’50s _ a kid from Waxahachie, Texas _ the first thing I did was buy a tweed suit and a pipe, and try to lose my accent,″ he said. ``‘The Human Stain’ IS very much my story.″

``The Human Stain,″ starring Anthony Hopkins as the professor and Nicole Kidman as a woman he has an affair with, has opened in selected cities.

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