British film-maker Mike Leigh is famed for treating his actors so well, they forget the harsh reality of working with less methodic directors.

The award-winning Vera Drake director allows his actors to experiment and enjoy the luxury of an extended rehearsal period.

But the 62-year-old refutes suggestions he spoils actors for future projects because other directors' approaches fall short.

He explains, "It's not just a question of there being no script and a long rehearsal period. I try to create a proper environment so my actors can function as proper artists.

"It's very different for them and very stimulating. But I think this comes under the heading of 'not for me to say'.

14/04/2005 02:52