Former Leigh forward Mark set for movie premiere

Mark Sheals (right) with Darren Connolly, in The Caravan
Mark Sheals (right) with Darren Connolly, in The Caravan

A former Leigh forward turned actor is looking forward to the premiere of the film he helped to write.

Mark Sheals has worked with Hollyoaks and The Fall star Karen Hassan and Bridget Jones actress Sheila Henderson in The Caravan, which will be screened for the first time at Leigh Cineworld on Thursday.

Former Leigh forward Mark Sheals

Former Leigh forward Mark Sheals

And as well as starring in it, the Astley 48-year-old formulated the plot, along with co-star Darren Connolly.

The film focuses on the estranged family relationship of an emotionally wounded father and son who are forced to address the ghosts of their past in order to be able to look ahead. In it, Mark wears Centurions kit supplied by the club.

Father-of-two Mark said: “I have been acting for the last eight years, working with Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, plus roles in Coronation Street and Shameless.

“I got typecast as a gangster because of my size and I wanted to do something different,

“My friend Darren, who lives in Middleton, asked to work with me to show us in a different light and we developed a script, which became The Caravan.

“We had an idea of what we wanted to do and Chris Green wrote it for us. We got a producer and got funding from White and Co in Manchester and it snowballed. We are really excited about the premiere, especially as it is so local.”

Mark began his career with Swinton before joining Leigh in 1990. He played 58 times for Leigh, scoring 10 tries. He also had stints with Wakefield Trinity and Oldham.

Following his retirement from the sport he entered another realm: acting.

“At school I was good at drama and sport” he said. “I signed pro rugby forms at the age of 16 and that took me into my career.

“Then I became a self-employed salesman, selling sports products. In 2007 bosses working on the film Rise of the Footsoldier wanted to use my tracksuits and I went down for the day and ended up being in the stunt room for a fight scene. That triggered my acting love again.

“I got an agent in London but didn’t get any jobs, so I went back to Manchester, signing with Urban Talent, which got me a role in the fifth series of Shameless. I then got a bigger agency in London - Robert Kelly Associates - and worked with David Jason, Robert Downey Jr and Jack O’Connell.

“I also worked on Galavant on ABC, starring Vinnie Jones, but I did not meet him. I also had a role in London Road, with Olivia Coleman and Tom Hardy.”

The Caravan will be premiered at a restricted guest list only at Leigh Cineworld on Thursday and will be available in digital format from March 16.