Hollywood success for former Sunderland call centre worker with role in First World War blockbuster 1917

A Sunderland actor has swapped life in a callcentre for the trenches of First World War France in a new Hollywood blockbuster.

Sunday, 12th January 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 3:57 pm

Jonny Lavelle, 31, has a role in 1917, the latest film from Skyfall director Sir Sam Mendes, which opened nationwide on Friday, February 10.

The film tells the story of British soldiers Schofield and Blake who are entrusted with delivering a message calling off a planned attack which is walking into a German ambush. If they fail, hundreds of men – including Blake’s brother – will die.

Jonny, from Hougton, plays Orderly Byrne and finds himself rubbing shoulders on the cast list with Hollywood names such as Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as the likes of Sherlock and Fleabag’s Andrew Scott and Bodyguard and Game of Thrones star James Madden.

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Jonny has appeared in The Trial of Christine Keeler

Such distinguished company may be daunting for many actors, but in the few months since leaving drama school, Jonny has already appeared in a number by high-profiles roles, including The Trial of Christine Keeler for BBC1, A Confession and Vera for ITV and even US series Tin Star.

The former Houghton Kepier and St Robert of Newminster pupil was first bitten by the acting bug at school and studied drama at Sunderland University before going travelling.

His love of the stage was reignited when he joined the People’s Theatre in Newcastle, where he played a number of roles, including the lead in Macbeth.

In 2015, he decided to follow his dream and swapped his job selling car insurance for a place on a three-year acting MA at the Guildhall School of Musice and Dance in London after becoming one of just 25 students selected from 2,500 applicants.

Jonny Lavelle. Pic: Danann Breathnach

He launched a Gofund Me appeal and received support from BAFTA and the Sunday for Sammy fund - set up in memory of Spender star Sammy Johnson to help young people from the North East pursing a career in the creative industries and arts - with the £24,000-plus cost of the course.

He told the Echo at the time: “Acting is all I have ever really wanted to do.”

Jonny has appeared in The Trial of Christine Keeler
Jonny Lavelle. Pic: Danann Breathnach
1917 opens nationwide today