English actor Paul Bettany lied to Ron Howard when he was offered the role of albino monk SILAS in The Da Vinci Code, after telling the director he had already read the Dan Brown novel. The WIMBLEDON star, 34, was thrilled when he received a phone call from Howard - who directed Bettany in A Beautiful Mind five years ago (01) - and insisted he knew the storyline already. Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera yesterday (17MAY06), Bettany says, "Ron rang me up and asked me to be in the movie and he said, 'Monk, assassin and Da Vinci Code,' and it was Ron calling me so I said, 'Yes!' immediately. "And he asked me if I had read the book and I said, 'Yes, of course.' And I hadn't so I ran and got the book, not in theology and personal growth, but in the fiction department and I read it in two sittings. It was a real page-turning adventure story."