Ex-Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity and Huddersfield Giants ace Keith Mason on his Yorkshire-based movie
KEITH MASON has come a long way since THAT London nightclub meeting with Hollywood star Mickey Rourke.
It was at Stringfellows, after playing for Huddersfield Giants in their 2009 Challenge Cup final loss to Warrington Wolves at Wembley, that the former Wakefield Trinity and Castleford Tigers prop chanced upon the famous A-lister in a moment that changed his life.
Mason, of course, forged a close friendship with Rourke and – after retiring from playing in 2013 – flew to America to visit him.
From there, despite never acting before, he was offered his own small part in Skin Traffik, a film that starred Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen and saw Mason play Rourke’s ‘heavy.’
It started something which meant the Yorkshireman’s retirement plans have become distinctly different to most other players.
For example, Dewsbury-born Mason has since appeared in hit BBC series Peaky Blinders but – demonstrating his versatility again – has also produced a graphic novel called Rugby Blood which has reimagined some of the sport’s top stars like Daryl Clark, Jermaine McGillvary and Jake Connor as fictional superheroes.
Furthermore, the 38-year-old has former world champion boxer Joe Calzaghe and The Last Leg presenter Adam Hills involved in the novel and a sportswear range has materialised off the back of it as well.
However, the purpose of this interview is to speak about yet another project – his upcoming film Imperative which has been shot around the Broad Acres.
What has happened to the former Wales prop since hanging up his boots has certainly been eventful.
“Acting is something different to playing sport, for sure,” Mason told The Yorkshire Post.
“Going back to 2013 when Mickey Rourke gave me that fateful call and said ‘do you want to be in a film?’, I had a taste of being in a movie and having some lines.
“I was at Castleford Tigers at the time and going through a big court case with Huddersfield Giants. It knocked the wind out of my sails which I didn’t like.
“Rugby league has given me everything. I’d worked my backside off in the process but the sport saved my life, having been a young kid in a lot of trouble.
“It was my way out and that’s why I’ve come back and created Rugby Blood and got all the kids involved, bringing that entertainment side to rugby league that it doesn’t normally get.
“It’s been a success and I’ve signed a deal with O’Neills sportswear, who launched the kits about two or three weeks ago – there’s a whole range of tracksuits jumpers shorts and three playing jersey which will feature in the graphic novel in the series whether it’s a TV series or the film.
“It’s been endorsed by Super League, too, and that’s all great.”
But images appearing on social media of Imperative have been impressive, too, and that project is something he is clearly proud of.
“The acting side of things is something I really enjoy,” continued Mason, who won the 2004 Challenge Cup with St Helens having also spent a brief spell at Melbourne Storm.
“Obviously, being a lad from Yorkshire, I’m not in London, I’m not in Hollywood so I’ve built a team around me and I wanted to start producing my own stuff.
“That’s where Imperative came along. I met a young kid called Thierry Chavrimootoo. He’s only about 18 but has done a lot of projects and is like a diamond in the rough.
“He already had this story originally called Innumerable. We changed it to Imperative and came up with an idea for a film.
“My character is DCI Sullivan, a guy who hunts down a serial killer who’s a type of vigilante. He kills people who are not very nice.
“It’s very similar to Luther but more like a northern version; instead of London he’s roaming the streets of Yorkshire for this serial killer.
“I said I’d produce it, too, and get people involved and locations sorted and it’s just grown. I’ve got some great actors involved and some non-actors involved – including Jenna Brough.”
The wife of Wakefield scrum-half Danny Brough has a part and Mason explained: “I just put out on Twitter if anyone was interested in extras roles.
“I know Jenna from playing with Danny at Wakefield. She got back to me and asked. I spoke to my director and we had no women in this film which didn’t seem right so I decided to give her a really juicy role – the chief of police.
“Poor Jenna had never acted in her life but I sent some lines over for her and she had a lot!
“She got back to me saying ‘bloody hell Keith… you’ve put me on the spot!’ But I said what better way to start your acting career by going in the deep end?!”
The film is almost complete and Mason, who lives in Halifax, said: “Until this lockdown, we’d been filming for the last four months almost non-stop using locations in Keighley, Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield.
“We had a couple more scenes to shoot to finalise. I’m co-producing it and we’ve someone who wants to distribute it in Indonesia in the next couple of months and hopefully get it around Europe.
“There’s an American producer as well who wants to co-produce and possibly put it into a TV series. We’ll see but it’s been great and I’ve loved it.”
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