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Fiennes can’t resist role

Ralph Fiennes took on a significant challenge when he decided to act in and direct “The Invisible Woman,” a new film about Charles Dickens’ relationship with his secret mistress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones) that opens Wednesday.

The material is tough, requiring a filmmaker with a keen eye for externalizing the deep suffocation of both characters, who are restricted from acting on their love because of social and cultural pressures.

And Dickens, at once a lively public polymath and thoroughly enigmatic private man, is a strenuous part to play.

“It’s hard to know where to emphasize your director’s head or your actor’s head,” Fiennes says. Fiennes says he “tried to resist” playing the author, but “I’m afraid I just thought, ‘Damnit, I’m going to do it.’ ”

‘Fast & Furious 7’ stalled

Universal Pictures has delayed the release of “Fast & Furious 7” for almost a year following the death of star Paul Walker.

The studio announced Monday that the “Fast & Furious” sequel will be released in April 2015, instead of next July.

Shooting on the film was about halfway finished when the 40-year-old Walker died in a car crash outside Los Angeles.

Walker still will appear in the film, though Universal has not said exactly how it will handle his unfinished performance.

Pixies to play Israel

An Israeli promoter for the Pixies says the American alternative rock band will perform in Israel next summer – four years after the band canceled a concert following a deadly Israeli raid on a pro-Palestinian Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza.

The Nidar Oz publicity group didn’t elaborate why the band has decided to perform in Israel now.

A number of high-profile musicians have refused to perform in Israel due to its policies toward the Palestinians, including British rockers Elvis Costello and Roger Waters.

A familiar role

Despite 36 years in show business, it seems that actress Phyllis Logan has never quite escaped domestic service. Her first paying role was that of a maid, for which she earned 37 pounds.

Here she is again, as the starchy Mrs. Hughes in service at “Downton Abbey,” which returns for its new season Jan. 5 on PBS.

When Logan first read the part, she thought she’d have to assume an English accent. After all, as Mrs. Hughes is the senior housekeeper of the estate, and all the “downstairs” people come from the blue-collar area of northern England.

But Logan is a Scot with a thick Scottish brogue, rolling her R’s and stretching out her vowels. And a revolutionary thought occurred to her: Why not make Mrs. Hughes a Scot?

“So when I was there, I went in and spoke to (the producer), and he said, ‘Oh, you’ve got such a nice accent, maybe we should try Mrs. Hughes as Scottish.’ I said, ‘Well, funnily enough that you should say that, I was going through and thinking that the syntax of what she said, the type of person she was – I thought this could really work as a Scottish woman.’ They were delighted and said, ‘Yes, that’s fine.’ ”