Leigh goes Hollywood for film premiere starring former Centurions star

Former Leigh player turned actor Mark Sheals with his co-star Darren Connolly and Centurions at the premiere of The Caravan
Former Leigh player turned actor Mark Sheals with his co-star Darren Connolly and Centurions at the premiere of The Caravan
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LEIGH players enjoyed the red carpet last night treatment last night as a film starring a former Centurions forward got its glitzy premiere.

Cineworld in Leigh was the venue for the first UK showing of The Caravan which stars ex-Leigh player Mark Sheals.

Centurions player Fuifui Moimoi shares a joke with actor Mark Sheals

Centurions player Fuifui Moimoi shares a joke with actor Mark Sheals

Current and former players along with coach Paul Rowley mixed with the film’s stars and producers. Sky Sports were also there to film the event.

Sheals has worked with Hollyoaks and The Fall star Karen Hassan and Bridget Jones actress Sheila Henderson in The Caravan.

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 and some of the scenes were filmed at Leigh East. Sheals drinks from a Centurions mug throughout the film and rugby league gets plenty of exposure.

Father-of-two Sheals said: “I have been acting for the last eight years, working with Robert Downey Jnr 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 were really excited about the premiere, especially as it was so local.”

Sheals 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 also had a role in London Road, with Olivia Coleman and Tom Hardy.”

The Caravan is available in digital format from March 16.