OSCAR winner Geoffrey Rush twice turned down the chance to play PETER SELLERS in new movie THE LIFE + DEATH OF PETER SELLERS before his role as a ghostly pirate gave him the edge he needed to play the late British comic.

The PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN star was convinced producers had the wrong guy when he was first approached to play Sellers and then turned the role down a second time when writers attempted to polish the script.

He explains, "I thought, 'I'm an Australian and he's English. He's stouter and shorter than I am. And hairier.

"(Then) they were writing a new draft (of the script) because he was so unlikeable, but that never hit me. I find people most interesting if they're flawed."

But, after playing grizzled sea dog CAPTAIN BARBOSSA in Pirates of The Caribbean, Rush took to the role.

He adds, "I was working with a very big hat and a feather and a monkey on my shoulder, and I just felt a little cockier."

The Sellers biopic, which also stars Charlize Theron as the funnyman's wife Britt Ekland, debuts on American TV this weekend (05DEC04).

01/12/2004 22:01