OSCAR winner Chris Cooper didn't have to dig too deep to create his horse trainer character in hit new movie SEABISCUIT - he once considered a career as a real-life cowboy.

The ADAPTATION star plays real-life horse expert TOM SMITH in the film, and admits much of the character came from his early days as a rancher in Missouri.

Cooper, 52, admits he once considered following his father's profession, but chose to act instead - because ranching is too tough.

He says, "People don't do that kind of work anymore. I mean,

it's unbelievably strenuous. You put up, and you run a miles worth of barbed wire fence, and that's like chain gang work.

"Working with cattle is a little unpredictable and dangerous

and you have the round-up and the vaccinating and the castrating and the weaning the cattle from their mothers at six months.

"It's just a way of life that's becoming more and more rare, but one of the most memorable and pleasant times in my life."

29/07/2003 21:16