Eltisley film extra has new role off the screen

Andrew Sharpe with copies of some of the films he has starred in.

Andrew Sharpe with copies of some of the films he has starred in. - Credit: Archant

It was a pure chance encounter that led to 20 years of travelling to far-flung destinations and appearing in films along the way – and now Andrew Sharpe has got behind the camera and made a wildlife video that could be set to appear in a documentary on the National Geographic channel.

Mr Sharpe in the Manny Pacquiao film.

Mr Sharpe in the Manny Pacquiao film. - Credit: Archant

The 52-year-old, of The Green, Eltisley, filmed a group of green vervet monkeys fighting a few years ago while he was in The Gambia – one of more than 30 countries he has visited. Now, London-based company Arrow Media has obtained the footage to supply to the TV channel for its upcoming programme Animal Fight Night 3.

It all began for Andrew when he was about 30 and was backpacking solo across Africa. Starting in Kenya, he travelled 3,000 miles to Zimbabwe and was outside his tent in the capital, Harare, when he was approached by staff involved in the film The Power of One, starring Morgan Freeman.

They needed an extra and Andrew decided to get involved - despite having no prior acting experience. He was cast as a prison guard in the 1992 tale of an English boy and his quest to change the world under apartheid in South Africa during the Second World War.

“It was pure chance – I have just been lucky to be in the right places at the right time,” he said.

“When I went to Africa I was meeting students having a year out and I thought they were so lucky.

“I did farm work in the summer then lived abroad in the winter – it was just one big holiday really when I was away.

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“If I was travelling somewhere I’d try and get into a movie there.”

Having featured in Thai TV beer commercials, his next stint in a Hollywood film came a few years later when he was staying in a backpacking lodge in the Philippines and heard about a major film being shot nearby.

After investigating further, he found out it was the Kevin Costner film Thirteen Days, released in 2000.

He was cast as an extra with three roles – a member of the US Air Force and the US Navy, plus a Russian solider.

The story follows the struggle of President Kennedy’s administration to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

His other credits include parts in 2001 Vietnam war film Going Back, Filipino TV show Tayong Dawala, Korean film The First Life of Jason Lee, the Animal Planet series I Shouldn’t Be Alive, and as a referee in a 2006 film about boxer Manny Pacquiao called Pacquiao: The Movie.

The father-of-two, who returned to the UK in 2010, said: “Since I’ve been back home I get out when I can taking photographs – if it’s a frosty morning and the trees are covered in a nice frost or if there are birds I’ll take some pictures.

“If you want to be an extra in England you have to have certain certificates, an interview and for the money it is not worth doing it here at all.

“It’s been an extraordinarily fantastic life – it’s been quite incredible.”