Doncaster movie star on set with famous Coronation Street stars at the age of 12

He’s only 13 – but aspiring Doncaster actor Ethan Wilkie already has a feature film with big name TV stars under his belt.

By David Kessen
Thursday, 24 January, 2019, 09:08
Ethan Wilkie, from Bentley, with Sally Lindsey , who played his mum and Shaun Dooley who played his step dad, in the film Pondlife

Ethan, from Bentley, was one of a number of young stars cast in the film Pond Life, which has been filmed in Doncaster and other locations in South Yorkshire.

It saw him on the same bill as former Coronation Street actresses Sally Lindsey and Julie Hesmondhalgh, and Broadchurch actor Shaun Dooley.

Ethan Willkie, of Bentley, second from left, on set in South Yorkshire filming Pondlife.

Now he has seen himself on the red carpet for a premiere of the film in London, and discussed the film with critics at a film festival in Leeds.

He was only 12 when he shot the film, set in the 1990s in a mining village near Doncaster. It was filmed last year, in locations including Edlington, Maltby and Ravenfield.

His big screen action is only the latest piece of drama for Ethan, who is a member of both the Let’s Act and JKL drama schools in Doncaster.

Dad Lee Wilkie said: “Ethan first started on stage at Bentley High Street Primary School at the age of five, and seemed to get the main part in his first school production there.

“Over the years he’s had more and more parts on stage. The teachers at Bentley said he was very good. But it used to clash with his football, so for years he never took it any further, and he preferred to play football.

“Then the times at which they run the classes changed at the drama schools so he was able to go to both. Now he’s done lots of school productions and lots with Let's Act and JKL.”

He got an agent through Let’s Act, and he was approached through JKL to take part in auditions for Pond Life.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

He was one of only two young actors given parts through open auditions. The cast also included the children of big name actresses Celia Imrie and Samantha Morton.

Don Valley Academy pupil Ethan still plays football for AFC Bentley, but says he does not think he could be a professional footballer. But he does think he can make a living as an actor.

He has also done work for Sky TV, appearing in trailers that were made promoting their coverage of this year’s Ryder Cup.

But the directors of Pond Life handed him one of the main roles in their film.

“We went to the screening in London and the Leeds Film Festival,” said Lee. “Ethan was on the stage doing a question and answer session with the rest of the cast. It blows me away that he can just take all that in his stride in front of all those people.

“Ethan’s mum, Rachel, and myself, went to see the last day of filming. We were so proud watching him on the film set like that with all these famous television stars.

“We’ve always known he’s confident, but it was great to see. We were bursting with pride.”

Ethan’s younger brother George also plays football, but prefers boxing to acting.

Dad Lee had an interest in acting as a teenager and went to High Melton College to do performing arts after leaving school. But he dropped out to train as a joiner.

Ethan hopes to go to drama school when he leaves Don Valley..