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Actor Chris is one of Kevin Costner's gang

By Weekend  |  Posted: February 04, 2013

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When Kevin Costner scooped best actor in the pre-Oscar Screen Actors Guild awards last week, a glass was raised by Gloucester thespian Chris Hatherall.

Although Chris didn't get to attend the star-studded awards, he had every right to join the celebrations for the outstanding success of mini-series Hatfields & McCoys.

He can be proud of his part as one of Costner's gang, in the multi-award winning tale of two feuding families in 19th century frontier America.

Chris played alongside such Hollywood legends as Bill Paxton and Tom Berenger in a three-part drama, that has won plaudits  across the board.

After many years trying to make it as an actor, Chris' hard work is finally starting to pay off, with roles in several high profile films.

And he also just missed out on a part in Peter Jackson's latest blockbuster from Middle Earth, The Hobbit, for which Chris auditioned both for Bilbo Baggins and one of the dwarfs.

It's a far cry from university in Gloucestershire where Chris got his first taste for the film world.

Chris is hoping his success with Hatfields & McCoys, will pave the way to more choice film roles.

"I had a few scenes with Kevin Costner and the whole thing seemed slightly surreal considering where I have come from," said Chris, 35, who was born and bred in Hucclecote.

"I value every moment of it because I have worked very hard and when opportunities like this come along, it makes it all worthwhile."

Since its release last year, Hatfields & McCoys has won a host of awards, including Emmys for Costner and Berenger, a Satellite award for best mini-series and now the SAG award announced at the weekend.

Although Chris now lives in London, he spent his formative years in Gloucester.

"I didn't really do any drama at school but I was always passionate about literature and film," said Chris, who was a pupil at St Peter's High School.

In his early 20s he studied film studies and modern writing at the University of Gloucestershire, graduating at 25 with a first class honours degree.

"I had ambitions to write film scripts," he said.

"When I was about 24 I had a short story called No Man's Land published in The Citizen."

After university Chris worked at Brockworth library and as a school learning support assistant.

"Acting wasn't really considered to be a serious career option but just something you did because you enjoyed it," he said.

He took acting lessons and joined The Playhouse in Cheltenham to get experience on stage.

The pull of acting and writing eventually became too great and Chris decided to move to London to pursue his dreams.

"It's a tough business, I cannot emphasise that enough," he said.

"It's the only job in the world where you can be rejected for being too short, too tall, having blue eyes or dark hair.

"I slept on a mattress on the floor of a friend's flat and worked part-time for a charity while I was trying to get acting experience."

Some small parts in independent films came up, which gave Chris the experience he needed to push him into more mainstream acting opportunities. He considers Hatfields & McCoys his first big break, travelling to Romania to film his role as French Ellis, one of Costner's character, 'Devil' Anse Hatfield's, gang.

"The hills of Romania are a dead ringer for the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and Kentucky, where the story took place, and it's a lot cheaper to film there," he said.

Since then Chris has been working on the yet-to-be-released feature film Lost in Italy, in which he plays the younger version of Ray Winston's character.

"I quite often get the part of tense, obsessive characters, who are perhaps a bit rough around the edges," said Chris, who won his role in Hatfields & McCoys through British casting director Amy Hubbard.

"They were casting over here because we were slightly cheaper than US actors.

"I have known Amy for many years and we are good friends. She also cast The Hobbit and I auditioned for the role of Bofur, which eventually went to James Nesbit.

"Peter Jackson also wanted me to audition for the role of Bilbo Baggins when they weren't entirely sure whether Martin Freeman would be available."

His recent work has also included The Liability, a black comedy starring Tim Roth and Jack O'Connell, which is due out early this year, in which Chris plays Ivan, a seedy character from Eastern Europe.

"I do love my job, you get to meet some wonderful people and visit places I have never been before.

"But there's no denying it is a struggle to get work at times," he said.

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