2017 could prove a another big year for Witterings-based actor Frankie Oatway with the release of two feature films this summer – and the possibility of a part on EastEnders.
“It has just been so amazing,” Frankie says. “This last year has been so busy.”
Making it all the more remarkable is the fact that it is only relatively recently that Frankie has taken up acting.
“I had very little education and come from a tough background. I served in the parachute regiment for eight years from 17 years old. I’m from Nottingdale, the less ponced-up working-class area of Notting Hill. I was a builder for over 25 years then fell into acting.”
Towards the end of the summer, Frankie is expecting to be on cinema screens with the release of Finding Your Feet: “I play a great part as a London cabbie, working alongside some of the country’s finest – Joanna Lumley, Imelda Staunton and Timothy Spall.
“It’s a very funny film. I got on famously with Imelda. She was so lovely to work with. It was written Nick Moorcroft and directed by one of the best directors in the country who cast me for the film, Richard Loncrane.”
Frankie has also played another major role in the new British feature film, My Name Is Lenny, based on the bare-knuckle fighter Lenny McLean.
“I was auditioned to play one of the main characters Kenny Mac who was the main influence who introduced the career of bare-knuckle fighting to Lenny when he was in his twenties.
“Kenny was a man’s man, a real life Del Boy who ran a second-hand car front and scrap yard from east London where he organised plenty of fights for Lenny with some tough opponents Kenny used to make up an illegal makeshift ring in his scrapyard out of a length of old rope and four gas canisters to resemble the corners of a boxing ring, a real spit-and-sawdust set-up but very effective. There was no shortage of punters. Kenny had them lined up left, right centre for Lenny. As long as Kenny could see a pound note, he would keep Lenny very busy.
“It was a real challenge to play Kenny. Even though I come from that side of life, I took time and studied some of the old documentary footage of Kenny Mac. I found there were some very similar traits we both had. For example, he was a sharp dealer who could think on his feet and put a deal together within a heartbeat. In today’s world, I’m sure Kenny could
have been a finance minister or a top money trader. There’s no shortage of real people who never get the chance to fulfil their potential, just like Kenny who probably never had the best of chances as a youngster.
“In the film I play alongside Josh Helman from the film X-Men and Mad Max who plays Lenny. Josh was a true professional to work witt. We bounced off each other really well. I also worked closely with Nick Moran from Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.”
The film also sees what Lenny believes to be the last film appearance from John Hurt, who died earlier this year.
“I met John back in the late 90s when I was a builder. It was while I was doing a conversion on a fitness club in Kensington. I went out to get some tools out my van. I was gutted to discover my tools had been nicked, but who did I happen to bump into? None other than John Hurt doing a bit of shopping. I said ‘Excuse me, mate, you didn’t see anyone breaking into my motor, did you?’ Then I realised it was John Hurt!”
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