Hollywood hardman Vin Diesel is mastering bareback elephant riding for his role in the big budget production of HANNIBAL.

The XXX star will play the ancient hero in a new movie - based on the book by ROSS LECKIE - and he's determined not to employ a stuntman to ride elephants for him.

He says, "I've already been elephant training. What I'm doing on an elephant I don't know.

"I mean I spent my whole life riding trains and now I'm riding elephants, but it's fun.

"I won't be shooting until 2004 and right now in some insane way I'm riding elephants. It's not easy."