Kray role rockets former Shropshire schoolboy Kevin Leslie to Cannes

His love of acting was born as a pupil at Shropshire's Thomas Telford School.

Kray role rockets former Shropshire schoolboy Kevin Leslie to Cannes

And today he was heading to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, promoting a feature film in which he has the lead role.

Kevin Leslie, 26, stars as Reggie Kray in Rise of the Krays, a film about the younger days of the notorious East End gangster brothers.

He said: "This will be my first trip to Cannes and I know it is going to be an amazing experience.

"Our film is being premiered on Sunday by Carnaby International and I will be doing publicity for it while I am there."

Born in Shrewsbury and spending his formative years in Edgmond, near Newport, Mr Leslie's interest in acting was triggered in year nine of the Thomas Telford School.

He said: "I started to perform in school productions and the first one was West Side Story - I loved it, the passion for acting built from there.

"It wasn't always easy, as myself and others performers at school would get some gentle and not-so-gentle ribbing from our peers.

"I couldn't figure out why people thought Brad Pitt was the coolest person on the planet, yet we were getting such grief for wanting to act at school.

"When it came to decide what I wanted to study in the 6th Form I decided to follow my heart and chose to take a BTEC diploma in musical theatre."

Kevin gained a distinction in his BTEC, tried his hand at physical theatre and then enrolled on a BA Honours course in acting at Bournemouth University.

He said: "It wasn't until my second year at university that I realised I could actually do this acting thing.

"Up until then I had the confidence, but hadn't convinced myself I was actually any good.

"The key moment was getting two lead roles in the four shows I was in during my final year at university.

"You have to believe in yourself because it is a very competitive industry, every role has literally thousands of applicants, but usually only 10 per cent of those get as far as an audition."

The Rise of the Krays is a big break, but it isn't his first film acting experience, which actually came on location in Africa.

He said: "I was lucky enough to shoot a film called Pearls of Africa in Kenya and having breakfast on the Maasai Mara was something I will never forget.

"Acting on The Rise of the Krays was a tremendous experience, I really enjoyed working opposite fellow actor Simon Cotton, who plays my brother Ronnie Kray."

Once the publicity has been done for that film, thoughts will turn to his next projects.

Kevin, who has lived in London for the past five years, said that as an actor you always look ahead and his next film could be another lead in a £4 million production.

He said: "The project looks very likely to happen, but in this business you can't guarantee anything.

"My ambitions do stretch to being nominated for Baftas and Oscar awards - but they are not the be all and end all of everything.

"I know that I will always maintain my connection with independent cinema and love the way British films always seem to find a way to get made.

"Those smaller, personal films prove that the creative process is not totally dependent on money."

For further information about Kevin Leslie visit his Facebook page or Twitter account @KevinLeslie88.

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