Megastar Tom Cruise underwent eight months of gruelling training before filming his role in The Last Samurai.

In the upcoming movie, Cruise plays an American hired in the late 1800s to help Japanese warriors in western war tactics.

And the heart-throb TOP GUN star admits his role was a difficult departure from the characters he has played in the past.

He says, "I trained for eight months prior to shooting the film. I put on 20 pounds (nine kilograms) for the character but also for the muscle to carry the swords and wear the armour."

Co-star Ken Watanabe, who has played many samurai roles, admits Cruise was a quick learner. He adds, "I feel like we have been through a battle together."

The film, directed by Edward Zwick, is due out in the US and Japan in December (03) and in January (04) elsewhere.

28/08/2003 21:31