Hanks: More Dan Brown films for me

TOKYO: "Angels and Demons" star Tom Hanks said Thursday he wants to act in more movies based on Dan Brown's religious conspiracy thrillers that have angered the Catholic church.

Hanks plays Harvard professor and symbologist Robert Langdon in the follow-up movie to the 2006 blockbuster "The Da Vinci Code" based on another best-selling novel by the same author.

"I think (Langdon) is a timeless character like Sherlock Holmes... an intellectual Indiana Jones without the whip, and I hope I get a chance to play him five times," Hanks said ahead of the film's May 15 world premiere.

Hanks added that "I'd have to take that up with" Brown and producer Ron Howard, who was with Hanks at a press conference in Tokyo.

The comments came as Brown was wrapping up his third book featuring Langdon, "The Lost Symbol," which will go on sale with an initial worldwide print run of five million copies on September 15.

In "Angels and Demons" Langdon tries to prevent a secret brotherhood from killing four cardinals considered to be front-runners for the papacy, and to stop them from blowing up the Vatican.

The "Code" novel drew fire from the Catholic church because it was based in part around the idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered offspring.

But Hanks signalled that the recent Dan Brown movie raised important questions about faith and science in the modern age.

"Controversy that is merely meant to be salacious or editorial is not worth making a movie about. It's only when I think the theme can actually withstand the attention of having the movie made about it," he said.

Due to controversy surrounding both novels, the producer said he had to resort to "guerilla" tactics.

This included sending small units to locations where church officials had prohibited filming to take shots that could then be used by set designers to recreate the scenes in Hollywood studios.

"In filming we knew we wouldn't have cooperation from the Vatican because even going back to 'The Da Vinci Code,' every time we asked to be able to film around or inside the Catholic church it was always rejected," Howard said.

"As far as the guerilla shooting, we didn't break any laws but we didn't always ask permission for everything we were going to do. There was an element of shooting this movie that was like an indie street film," he added.

"I'm very proud as a director in terms of using every trick in cinema, from illusions that were first used 100 years ago in silent movies to the latest digital technology, to try to create this feeling for the audience that they were in Rome," Howard said.