A senior housebuilder at Vistry Group has acted alongside Hollywood hardman Vinnie Jones and will appear in an upcoming film. Sam Lester, senior site manager at Emmbrook Place in Wokingham, is an extra in a reboot of gangster franchise Rise of the Footsoldier, which is due to be released later this year. Starstruck Sam spent time with actors Vinnie, Keith Allen and Roland Manookian, plus Nick Nevern, the director of The Hooligan Factory ?" and said ditching the hard hat for makeup felt surreal. Speaking about the week-long filming, Sam, from west Reading, said: “I loved it, it was such an experience ?" a different world, one minute I had my hard hat and boots on, and the next I’m getting makeup put on in the dressing room with all the lights and a massive team putting everything together. I took my housebuilding gear off and then I’m in the chair getting made up and then out in front of the cameras. It was quite bizarre but brilliant. “I’d had a Zoom call with the director and he told me Keith Allen was in it, who was an absolute gentleman, and Vinnie Jones, and so we had a couple of days filming with him too ?" it was just a fantastic experience. We had various parts, it’s fascinating how many scenes they shoot and they probably only use three or four. “It was a full-on week, but I had a great time with all the actors, they’re amazing and we’d have a drink with them at the end of the day. In between breaks you were just mingling. I was star struck, not only from the film side of things, but as a football fan who admired Vinnie’s career. He’s definitely a hard man, but he can be a bit of a softy too. They were down to earth guys, who made us feel so welcome. There was no looking down at anyone, it was just a great laugh between good people, similar to being on a building site!” Sam studied drama while at Denefield School, in Tilehurst, and joined the housebuilding industry as a forklift driver aged 16. He started at Bovis Homes
?" part of the Vistry Group
, which recently retained its five-star Home Builders Federation status ?" five years ago as assistant site manager and was promoted to his current role in January. The team, which recently won an internal Vistry award, are halfway through building at Emmbrook Place, where they have constructed more than 400 homes and have just started phase five. Sam added: “I’m delighted to be working for Vistry and what topped it off recently was winning a Vistry ‘team of the year’ award. To be working with Bovis and Linden Homes brands is just great, in terms of what we can offer the customer, and having a five-star status is just wonderful. “I always like to try something once, that’s a little bit different ?" I hadn’t done any acting before, but I’m always up for a new experience. I’ve always taken an interest in acting since being a young lad. A good friend of mine in the industry has offered me lots of opportunities over the years, but I haven’t always had the time. We’re extremely busy at the minute, but I had a little holiday to use and Vistry is really supportive in encouraging us to take time for ourselves. “I got many phone calls from friends and colleagues after Vinnie put a photo on his Instagram of a group of us. I had kept it quiet and they all thought it was great. They couldn’t believe it. I’m looking forward to getting out on the red carpet, Covid permitting! The film takes the franchise back to its original roots and it’s quite a dark portrayal. Without a doubt, you’ll definitely see me in the background!” The extras were put up in a hotel in Essex, where the filming was shot, and worked on set 9am-5pm for the week. Sam, who has kept in touch with other actors, hopes to appear in more films in the future.