TEENAGE Worthing actor and Game of Thrones star Brenock O’Connor has landed his first lead role in a film alongside a galaxy of British stars.
Brenock, 18, appears with QI panellist Alan Davies, Loose Women’s Martine McCutcheon, who played Tiffany in EastEnders and starred alongside Hugh Grant in Love Actually, and Layer Cake star Jamie Foreman in the upcoming independent British feel-good football comedy The Bromley Boys.
Adapted from the novel by Dave Roberts, the film, which is out on June 1, is a story about a boy, a girl, and the worst football team in the world.
Set in 1969, with England preparing for the defence of their World Cup crown and George Best delighting crowds with his virtuoso skills at Old Trafford, 15-year-old Dave Roberts fell head over heels in love… with his local non-league club Bromley FC.
The club proves to be outstandingly awful but as Dave, played by Brenock, attempts to force out the team manager, he discovers an awful secret. What follows is a catalogue of hilarious attempts by David and his new friends to find out what’s going on at Bromley FC. To complicate matters, David is sent to boarding school and subsequently expelled, he battles with his world-weary father, starts at a comprehensive school, and embarks on a seemingly sham relationship with the Chairman’s daughter in order to infiltrate the club.
It’s a relationship that will lead him to a party at the Chairman’s house where David will learn the terrible truth…
Finally, David and his new friends thrust deep in to the biggest story in non-league football history. With furious club Chairman Charlie McQueen on the warpath, David must choose between his undying love for Bromley FC, the wishes of his parents, and his growing feelings for Ruby. David’s life is unravelling fast. He just needs one thing to make it all better: a Bromley win on the last day of the season…
“Being the lead role is terrifying,” says Brenock. “It’s the first lead role I have had – touch wood there are more to come – but it was daunting as a 16-year-old going into it. I’m still trying to get my head round it.
“I couldn’t believe I actually got the role – it’s one of those roles you never expect to get. Leads in films usually go to tall, attractive sporty types – it it did not make sense to me that I was going to be the lead. It felt like i had surpassed everything I had already got.”
Brenock was studying for A levels in classical civilisation, English literature and philosophy at Varndean college in Brighton when he landed the role two years ago, and took a year out. He had been 14 and a pupil at Chatsmore Catholic High School, studying as well at the Theatre Workshop Stage School in Brighton, when he was cast as Olly in the HBO TV fantasy series Game of Thrones, a role that proved unpopular with some fans when his character betrayed Jon Snow in its fifth season.
He has also appeared in the BBC’s Dickensian and in Sky One’s comedy drama series Living the Dream, which is currently filming its second series.
The movie was shot two years ago in Bromley Borough, with Bromley FC recreated at Crockenhill FC, where its little turnstiles, uneven pitch and scrubby exterior epitomised the innocence of low-level football clubs.
“It’s a British independent film, shot on a a tiny budget on six-day weeks for five weeks straight,” says Brenock. “It’s the longest time I have been on one job and it has been hard work. I was exhausted, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“That made it so much easier to act because it made me feel throughout filming that I was just Dave. I didn’t have time to be Brenock, I am Dave. I was able to maintain the same through-line, ideals and emotions that my character would have.”
And he didn’t find it too hard to imagine him character back in 1969. “I love the era,” he says. “I’m lucky i live near Brighton, which has the Mods lifestyle. On my 16th birthday I bought myself a Vespa scooter and bought mod suit for my prom. I’m really into the music as well, so it’s my dream job.”
Portraying a teenage boy, particularly during his own adolescence, was a role Brenock enjoyed: “It’s a very relatable character for me. It’s a teenage boy – slightly socially awkward, not very good around girls – that sort of thing. I found real identification, I could really identify with the character.
“I think most teenage boys going through that period of their life feel socially awkward at some point. Awkward moments like talking to girls, just as Dave does with Ruby. He just doesn’t get it at all. He is seeing that she is interested but it doesn’t click in because he’s so focused on Bromley FC.”
He enthuses about his co-stars. “Alan, Martine and Jamie are three of my absolute heroes. I used to watch Alan on QI, Love Actually is one of my all-time favourite films and Jamie is one of the most genuine, gentle people I’ve ever met.
“Any scene I’m in with Jamie is just a joy because we worked so well together. I think we get the comic timing right along with the softer moments as well.
“He’s a lovely man to work with and he gave me so many tips. Everyone gives you advice at my age but Jamie said ignore everyone and do what you want. And that’s what I’m doing. I’ve started songwriting and one of my songs is in Living The Dream.”
Jamie Foreman established an instant connection with his Bromley Boys character, Charlie McQueen.
Foreman boasts a number of ‘bad boy’ roles in high profile movies such as Layer Cake, The Football Factory and Gangster No 1 as well as playing Derek Branning in EastEnders, being nominated for Best Newcomer in 2012 along with Best Villain from the All About Soap Awards. However, the Bermondsey-born actor confessed to something of a soft spot for his latest role characterizing the Chairman of Bromley Football Club during their calamitous 1969/70 campaign.
“Oh, Charlie – I adore him,” Foreman declared. “What is there not to like? He’s a bit of a force of nature – very much the general in charge of his own little world, his little empire.
Above: Brenock O’Connor in The Bromley Boys/picture: Itchy Fish Film Ltd
Above and top: Brenock as a triumphant Dave with the team
Below: Brenock with Jamie Foreman in a scene from The Bromley Boys
Above and below: Brenock as Dave with his parents, played by Alan Davies and Martine McCutcheon
Above: Martine McCutcheon in a scene from The Bromley Boys
Below: Alan Davies plays Dave’s dad
Above and below: Brenock as Dave with Savannah Baker as Ruby
Above: Jamie Foreman (left) and Gareth Hale in a scene from The Bromley Boys
Below: Brenock and Jamie Foreman
“He has this assortment of odds and sods which revolve around him. He’s like a very big fish in a small pond and I love this simple generalisation of him; but he’s a very caring person, he loves the club, he loves his football team. But he’s a somewhat flawed character. He’s a loving father, but he rules everyone with a rod of iron.”
Fanatical Arsenal supporter Alan Davies confessed his Bromley Boys character, Donald Roberts, offered a unique challenge to the one-time Jonathan Creek star.
“The biggest challenge for me, as a football fan in real life, is to play a character that is greatly disillusioned by football; hates being in a football ground and is generally unhappy with it,” the Loughton-born actor explained.
Davies explained how he advised screen-son, Brenock O’Connor, to familiarise himself with the game ahead of filming: “I did tell Brenock how much I love football, and that he’d better get himself down to a football match before he started this film because otherwise, he was never going to get that feeling,” he laughs.
“He went to watch his local team, Worthing, who are in the same league that Bromley was in at the time. He said it was great, he got the feeling. He spent as much time watching the crowd as he did the players.”
And here Martine describes her character: “The thing I love most about Gerti is that she is really human – kind and loving – she is the one person rooting for her son to make something of himself. She wants him to follow his dreams no matter what. For me, as a new mum myself, I already felt so many of the things that I think Gerti would have felt. It was exciting because it was new to me as a real parent – something I really identified with. I loved playing someone I believed I knew quite well.”
Brenock, who still lives in Worthing, confessed his family haven’t yet seen The Bromley Boys “They’ll get to see it for the first time at the premiere,” he says.
The Bromley Boys will be in cinemas on June 1.
The cast and stars from the world of entertainment and football will attend the world premiere of The Bromley Boys at Wembley Stadium, Wembley, from 6.30pm on Thursday May 24. Tickets £27.54-£54.49. Visit eventbrite.co.uk. Watch https://youtu.be/ebUzw0rshsE.