A former bare-knuckle boxer is hoping to pack a punch in his latest movie role.
Lee Shone, from South Shields, only decided to get into acting two years ago, but since then has seen his career quickly take off.
The 40-year-old has already worked on two major films, and is off to London next week to begin filming his third.
He’s set to star as Trevor Lemon in My Name Is Lenny alongside Mad Max: Fury Road and X-Men: Apocalypse star Josh Helman, who takes on the title role.
The film tells the true story of bare-knuckle fighter Lenny McLean, also known as The Guv’nor.
Dad-of-four Lee’s first acting job was in Death Race 4, a Universal Pictures film in which he played himself, under his fighting nickname Leeroy. He starred alongside Lethal Weapon’s Danny Glover.
Lee, who in his day job works in emergency response on offshore oil rigs, is also involved in upcoming movie The Middle Man, set in the world of crime, as Slug, as well as acting as fight choreographer.
He said: “I was contacted for My Name Is Lenny as the production people and Lenny’s son, Jamie McLean knew of me from my fighting days, which was a big honour. All the fighters in the film are real fighters like myself, Michael Bisping and Derek Heggie.
“I decided to get into acting two years ago because it’s something I’d always wanted to do and it’s just been crazy how quickly everything has happened. I started getting offered auditions for main roles in big movies straight away, but I didn’t want to do it that way. I wanted to start off small and work my way up.
“I’d never done any acting before so I didn’t feel like I could go straight into a leading role.”
Lee’s name is quickly spreading in the movie industry, and he’s since been contacted for some big upcoming productions. He’s also found a keen supporter in famous actor Tom Hardy, who has been spotted many times wearing one of Lee’s signature fight T-shirts.
The Legend and Peaky Blinders star has been photographed wearing the T-shirt, that has ‘Lee Shone’ emblazoned across it, in the LA Times and at the Toronto Film Festival.
Lee said: “Tom Hardy got in touch with me and I went in to see him in his office and he offered me a role in his TV series Taboo. He wanted me to be the fight director but unfortunately I couldn’t do it because I wasn’t insured for that sort of thing.”
Lee is also set to be featured as a character in author Steve Alten’s next novel.
He said: “He was a fan of mine from my fighting and he reached out to me and asked if he could write me as a character into his next book. I looked him up and I couldn’t believe he wanted to do it, but of course I said yes.
“His book Meg is currently being made into a feature film starring Jason Statham, and Steve told me he wanted me to be in it, but unfortunately it was already cast and there were no roles left for me.
“But now he’s put me forward to a role in his next one, The Loch. Big things are coming.”
Before the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was around, Lee fought in bare-knuckle and No Holds Barred (NHB) style fights, which have no rules.
He also boxed and did pro MMA and was the first non-American to pass the famous Frank Shamrock elite team try-out in 2001 in the USA.
The accomplishment got him a title fight which he went on to win in 1minute 32seconds.
Lee said: “It’s bonkers how everything is happening, but I’m really excited to start filming My Name Is Lenny and for all the opportunities I’m getting.
“I’ve always wanted to do acting so I just decided to give it a go. It goes to show that anything is possible if you really go for it.”