Actress Julia Stiles' theatre debut in London was marred by the EURO 2004 football championship - because chants could be heard from the pub next door during harrowing scenes in the play.

The SAVE THE LAST DANCE star has just wrapped her three-month performance opposite Aaron Eckhart in David Mamet's Oleanna at London's Garrick Theatre and she admits she would have liked an easier debut.

Stiles reveals she spent many nights competing with cheering football fans, while her character in the play was about to be murdered.

She explains, "We had to compete with the European football tournament and there's a pub next door and they get really rowdy because they like to drink a lot.

"During one of our shows, they were cheering, 'Come on England,' right in the middle of me saying something horrible like, 'You tried to rape me.' It was sort of distracting."

And when the chants weren't coming from the pub next door, they were coming from the audience.

She adds, "We had really vocal audiences... It was kind of scary. Sometimes when he's (Eckhart's character) standing over me with the chair, about to kill me, people would yell, 'Kill her,' or 'Do it.'"

25/07/2004 14:54