Tom Hanks, Ron Howard Talk Sequel At ‘Angels & Demons’ Rome Premiere

'I'm dying to grab it and pore through it,' director says of 'Lost Symbol,' Dan Brown's next Robert Langdon adventure.

ROME — Almost exactly three years since “The Da Vinci Code” opened to huge box-office numbers and complaints from the Catholic Church, director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks were at it again Monday night (May 4) with the gala premiere of [movie id=”330488″]”Angels & Demons.”[/movie]

The sequel (adapted from the prequel bestseller by Dan Brown) looked to be nearly controversy-free this time around — until Saturday night, when a Sony-sponsored event was scuttled by the Vatican-owned property at which it was set to take place. Howard told the Chicago Sun-Times he was “not surprised but frustrated” at the development.

Hours before the premiere, Hanks and Howard were in a more positive state of mind. Speaking at the Castel Sant’Angelo, where key scenes in the film take place, Howard told MTV News there are controversial aspects of the story, but at its heart, “Angels & Demons” functions as a ride for the audience. “I wanted the audience to go on the adventure with Langdon.”

Hanks, meanwhile, talked up the brains-over-brawn ethos of his symbologist character. “Robert Langdon is not big on fistfights. I like that the only reason he rules the day is because he’s smart,” the two-time Oscar winner said proudly.

His director thinks the second time is the charm for Hanks as Langdon: “I love what Tom has done in taking ownership of the character. I think he’s even more interesting and compelling in ’Angels & Demons.’ ”

So with the star and director so excited and the recent announcement that Brown’s third Langdon adventure, “The Lost Symbol,” is set for a September release, the next film is a foregone conclusion, right? Not so fast, Howard said.

“Dan [Brown] is a fantastic guy and a great conversationalist, until you ask him about the next Robert Langdon book. I don’t know any more than anyone that’s checked on the Internet!” Howard laughed when asked about rumors that Freemasons are involved in the next story. “He just won’t say. Along with everyone else, I’m dying to grab it and pore through it.”

Will the vampires grab more trophies than the slumdog? What was the year’s ultimate onscreen WTF moment? It’s up to you to decide the winners of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Vote now, and tune in on May 31 at 9 p.m. ET, when the big show airs live from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Angels & Demons.”

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