A former borough rugby league player is to make his acting debut in a new prime time TV drama - at the suggestion of its star: Hollywood A-lister Tom Hardy.
Ex-Centurions forward Rob Parker will feature in a later episode of Taboo, which is already winning fans and critical acclaim in its BBC One Saturday night slot.
He has already filmed his part, and his appearance in episode five will be all the more remarkable as he has never had an acting lesson in his life.
“I never set out do anything acting-related but I have been friends with Tom Hardy for a couple of years now,” revealed Parker, who spent two seasons at home-town club Leigh.
“Tom had always said that he thought I would be quite good at doing some acting. I can always spin a yard and tell a good story so I think he could something in me from that.
“We have a mutual friend and Tom is a massive supporter of the military and everything to do with the armed forces.
“We were down in Shrewsbury on a range day shooting some guns and that is where I first met Tom. We had no phone signal and there was only a handful of people there and we just enjoyed each other’s company.
“I just treated him like a normal bloke because he is a normal bloke but I am opportunistic and I jumped at the chance when Tom wants me to be in one of his series because he is an exceptional actor.”
The series is about James Keziah Delaney (Hardy) who returns to 1812 London to discover that he has been left a mysterious legacy by his father. Delaney finds himself in a face-off against the East India Company.
Parker said: “There are quite a lot of twists and turns and it is very dark. The name of my character is Cole and I am in Tom’s gang and one of his mates. I am a bit of a physical character in it which stems from my rugby past. Taboo gets quite dark and sinister at times but there are some real good twists and turns and I know if you get into it then you will be completely hooked.”
Parker admitted that he is blown away that he is going on a national channel in front of such an audience. He added: “I absolutely loved it and it was one of them kind of surreal moments and then I started thinking ‘wow, I am appearing in a series that is going to be on the BBC’.
“I did about five weeks’ filming with Taboo in total and loved every minute of it.”
Parker also played for Bradford Bulls, London Broncos, Warrington Wolves, Salford Red Devils and Castleford Tigers during a career which included England honours in 2003.
He has recently become general manager of Championship rugby league club Swinton Lions ahead of the new 2017 campaign. And he is hoping to persuade Hardy to visit Heywood Road this term.