Shropshire actor takes on leading role in romantic comedy Christmas at the Holly Day Inn
He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of notorious gangster Reggie Kray and won awards for his role in horror film 13 Graves.
But now actor Kevin Leslie is hoping to show his softer side in a new festive romantic comedy - Christmas at the Holly Day Inn.
He appears in the film alongside Dr Who actor Colin Baker, former EastEnders star Anita Dobson and Tamla Kari, best known for her role in BBC drama The Musketeers.
Kevin, who developed a love for acting while at Thomas Telford School, said playing the male lead, Oliver, was too good an opportunity to pass up. “I had worked with the production company, M and M Film Productions, before and we were discussing another project when this Christmas film landed on their desk.
“They sent it to me and asked if I would be interested in the male lead – I jumped at it,” recalls Kevin, who was born in Shrewsbury and grew up in Edgmond, near Newport.
“Christmas is all about family and friends so to have the opportunity to lead out a Christmas romantic comedy was amazing.
“I’ve got a big family, my brother and sister have quite a few children but they’ve never seen anything I’ve been in because they’ve all had an age rating of 15 or 18. It’s nice to be in a film that all the family can watch together,” he adds.
Filming for Christmas at the Holly Day Inn took place in and around the village of Cheddar in Somerset in April and May last year. “The majority of the film was shot in early spring and although it was cooler at night, we would still have the odd sunny day. I can remember a day when we were wearing these woolly Christmas jumpers and it was really quite warm.
“The art department has done an incredible job at making it look like it’s winter and Christmas time,” says Kevin, who previously starred in The Rise of The Kray and The Fall of The Krays.
The film, directed by Adam Wilson, follows over-achieving executive Emma, played by Tamla, who quits her job before Christmas and travels to her father’s country inn to regain balance.
When she discovers the retreat empty and under pressure to sell, she sets about saving the inn and restoring her father’s spirit.
While she’s back home, Emma meets Kevin’s character Oliver who she believes is a travel writer reviewing the hotel but not everything is as it seems. “Oliver was born and raised in the corporate world, that’s all he’s ever known. He’s set the task of acquiring the Holly Day Inn and getting the contract signed.
“He’s not very sentimental. He never really grew up with family traditions. Emma really loves Christmas and her enthusiasm is infectious.
“Oliver becomes smitten with these traditions that he’s never had in his life before,” says Kevin, who doesn’t want too give too much away about what happens next.
“It’s a very Christmassy and feel-good boy-meets-girl, girl-meets-boy film. It’s the perfect film to warm the cockles and watch with a hot chocolate in front of the fire,” he adds.
The 35-year-old, who now lives in Tunbridge Wells with his wife Dr Kate Evans and baby daughter Athena, says working with the cast was very enjoyable and they had a lot of fun together.
“Tamla was a delight to work with, I had seen her in BBC’s The Musketeers and really respect her work. I would work with Anita on every project if I could – they just don’t make them like her anymore.
“Watching Anita and Colin work together was great. Colin is just hilarious. We had a little game on set of trying to make each other laugh.
“It was a great opportunity to step up and work with some household names and hopefully be on par with them,” he tells Weekend.
Kevin, who graduated from Arts University Bournemouth with a BA (Hons) Acting degree in 2010, is looking forward to starting work on a new sci-fi film, also directed by Adam, next year.
“I’m really excited to get cracking on it as it’s something a little different for me and I’m happy to be working with Adam again,” he says.
Christmas at the Holly Day Inn is now available on demand from streaming platforms Amazon, Apple TV, Microsoft Store, Google Play and Sky Store.