Movie-maker M Night Shyamalan put the cast of his latest chiller THE VILLAGE through a three-week 19th century bootcamp - so they'd know all about the hardships of the period.

Stars like Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver and Joaquin Phoenix had to give up modern luxuries like hot and cold running water, cell phones and computers so they could get into character for the new film, about an eerie 19th century community. They learned how to plough fields and had to camp in the woods that became a terrifying part of the plot.

SIGNS star Phoenix admits he enjoyed the experience: "The bootcamp idea was good. It was really just an opportunity for us to just really focus on the film.

"It enabled us to get to know each other and to develop our relationships in character, which I think is important.

"There are some actors that really embrace a huge part... and then there are others on their cell phones all the time."

But Phoenix struggled with some of the bootcamp activities: "We ploughed the fields. That's some work. I mean, no joke. That's like every muscle in your body, and that I didn't enjoy at all.

"I also had trouble starting the fire - I was there for 24 hours rubbing sticks together. Everyone else had gone to dinner and I'm still there. Finally I just took out my lighter."

26/07/2004 09:40