Hollywood hardman Vin Diesel is preparing to star and direct a biopic of ancient warrior HANNIBAL - and he's been taking advice from Mel Gibson on how to get his project into production.

The Pitch Black heart-throb has already undergone training to ride an Elephant - the animal Hannibal used to cross the Alps - to prepare himself for the demanding role.

And Gibson has passed on the knowledge he gained making BRAVEHEART - a film Hollywood studios were initially reluctant to finance - to help Diesel realise his dream.

Diesel tells Empire magazine, "I've been location scouting. I've been elephant-training, I've had a four hour dinner with Mel Gibson, talking about Braveheart, to get prepped for this thing.

"Braveheart was another film no-one wanted to make - imagine going to a studio and saying, 'I want to do this $70 million movie about a guy running around in a skirt for three hours.'"

14/06/2005 09:21