OSCAR nominee Thomas Haden Church is convinced he only landed his role in acclaimed comedy SIDEWAYS because he once appeared in a movie with MARLON BRANDO.

Sideways writer and director Alexander Payne first met with Church in the late 1990s when the moviemaker considered him for a role in his black comedy ELECTION - and discovered he had signed on to make FREE MONEY with his hero Brando.

Payne then called Church in to audition for his Jack Nicholson movie ABOUT SCHMIDT and he gave him his failed actor role in Sideways after turning down George Clooney.

But the Sideways star is convinced Payne has only ever been interested in him because of his links to Brando.

He says, "To this day I am convinced that the real reason we met was because Alexander is from Nebraska, and he was completely fascinated that I was about to go off and make a movie with Brando.

"When we were doing Sideways, every now and then he would be like, `Tell me a story about Brando.'"

05/03/2005 01:42