Actor Seagal wants to bring Hollywood to Costa Rica

Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:49pm EST
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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Action movie star Steven Seagal told Costa Rican President Oscar Arias on Wednesday he wants to help the Central American country build a filmmaking industry to put its dramatic landscapes to use.

Seagal, known for his martial arts roles of the 1980s and '90s, met Arias in San Jose and offered to use his Hollywood connections to help Costa Rica get started in movie-making.

"Costa Rica has everything -- both rain forest and dry climate. What it lacks is an infrastructure to make movies," Seagal told a news conference.

Seagal said he had a positive conversation with Arias but did not elaborate on the size of any investment he planned or give a timeframe for his project.

Apart from a handful of small-budget independent producers, Central America's film industry is almost nonexistent.

Despite its reputation as a stable, relatively crime-free country with lush and varied landscapes, Costa Rica is rarely used by U.S. filmmakers, who often opt to shoot in Canada.

Costa Rica was the backdrop, however, for the 1992 film "1492: Conquest of Paradise," starring Gerard Depardieu, about the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas.

Actor and director Mel Gibson, who has a vacation home on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, had his production team scout the country's jungles for his 2006 epic "Apocalypto" about the decline of the Mayan civilization, but ended up shooting it in more-accessible Mexico.

(Reporting by John McPhaul; editing by Todd Eastham)

<p>Actor Steven Seagal cools off with a small ventilator in the flood-damaged village of Milcovul, 190 km (118 miles) northeast of Bucharest, August 6, 2005. REUTERS/Mihai Barbu</p>