PROMISES that a Hollywood blockbuster was to be filmed in the North-East were last night shrouded in mystery.

The Northern Echo has discovered that the film, Addict, believed to be set in Darlington, was to have also been shot in at least another 20 locations.

Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Sunderland, Hartlepool and Carlisle were also told they would be the main location of the gritty drugs drama and book adaptation.

The film was reported to be directed by Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. It has also been linked with actors Johnny Depp, Michael Caine and singer Robbie Williams.

Last month, Stephen Smith, who wrote Addict, which he said had sold 1.2 million copies worldwide, gave an interview to The Northern Echo, talking about his drug-fuelled days on the streets of the Firthmoor area of Darlington.

He had said the £2.5m film would be shot largely in Darlington, where Mr Smith said he had spent his days scavenging in bins.

But after the story appeared in The Northern Echo, it appeared in several other newspapers in the region.

Dundee, Norwich, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leeds, Coventry, Aberdeen, Halifax and Jersey, among others, have also been linked with Addict.

The Northern Echo can also reveal that former drug addict Mr Smith announced six years ago that his story would be filmed in Darlington, Sunderland, Manchester, York, Scarborough, Derby and Lincolnshire.

Last night, no one at Westworld International Films, the company said to be behind the film, was available for comment.

In almost every case, Mr Smith and representatives from Westworld, had told reporters that in the 1970s he had sneaked onto a train from London, ending up in their town. The story goes, he spent anything from a few weeks to several years living the life of a down-and-out and taking drugs.