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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

British actor Tom Hollander treats TV critics to reading of rare Dylan Thomas drinking ditty

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Tom Hollander treated television critics to an impromptu reading of a drinking ditty penned by Dylan Thomas.

The British actor pulled out his cellphone, where he had stored the ode to a pub, and recited the rhyming verses against a backdrop of the nighttime London skyline. Thomas, the Welsh poet, dashed off the "song" in pencil while seated at a London pub in 1951. It didn't come to light until decades later, and Hollander told the critics he thought it was the first time it was being heard in the U.S.

Hollander plays Thomas in "A Poet in New York," airing this fall on BBC America. Hollander appeared via satellite at the summer TV critics press tour on Wednesday.

Thomas was well-known for his love of drink. He died at the Chelsea Hotel in New York in 1953.

"The best way to do drunk acting is to not act. You act sober," Hollander said. "What I got a sense of was Dylan Thomas was a man who didn't restrain himself."

To capture Thomas' bloated look, Hollander employed "a mixture of overeating on my part and judicious padding from the costume department."

"I tried to imagine discomfort everywhere," the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor said. "He probably had hemorrhoids most of the time; he was horrible neglected physically."

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Beth Harris, www.twitter.com/bethharrisap

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