THE PUNISHER star Thomas Jane is set for another harrowing real-life portrayal - as tragic country star GLEN SHIRLEY.

The movie star, who has portrayed baseball legend MICKEY MANTLE and South African cop ANDRE `JOHN' STANDER in movies will play Shirley in a new biopic - even if it means faking a suicide at the end of the film.

He says, "Glen Shirley spent 13 years in Folsom prison and sung his way out of jail. Johnny Cash recorded a couple of his songs and got him out of prison and he became a country star before desperation and depression led him to commit suicide in 1978.

"It's a great story about how you take the man out of prison but you can't take the prison out of the man."

Jane admits he loves playing real-life characters, but always turns down the roles initially.

He adds, "I think the real guys come to me. I'm not attracted to playing these guys, per se, but the stories somehow

find their way to me and they don't let go.

"I turned down STANDER, I turned down Mickey Mantle in 61. I try not to do them but I wrestle with them and I lose. I end up doing the movies and I think it's a good thing. I'm honoured when these real-life characters come to me."

18/08/2004 21:00