FILM director Justin Chadwick has hailed his home town for nurturing his talent as his career hits the big time.

As rave reviews flood in for his Nelson Mandela biopic — Long Walk to Freedom — Mr Chadwick has paid tribute to his teachers at Turton High School, as well as his old pals at Bolton Little Theatre.

Now aged 45, he moved to Bolton as youngster, attending Lady-bridge Primary School, Edgworth Primary School and then Turton.

He lived in Edgworth until 1987 and later studied at De Montfort University, near Leicester.

He said yesterday: “Bolton is my home town — it’s a vibrant, multicultural part of the world. What a diverse, brilliant place Bolton is.

“I love the sense of humour there and the opportunities available to young people from all walks of life.

“Bolton was where I learned about other people and learned about myself.”

It was while at Turton High School, aged 11, that Mr Chadwick was persuaded by his English teacher, Mrs Hanson, to get involved in Bolton Little Theatre, a move which, he says, inspired him to become a director.

He added: “Mrs Hanson said I needed to find a way to channel my energy, and advised me to join Bolton Little Theatre. Before that point, I’d not had any focus and I would never have joined the theatre if it hadn’t been for her.

“The youth theatre was a massive part of my life. It definitely broadened my horizons and provided the routes of my career.”

Another Bolton figure who Mr Chadwick cited as a huge influence on his life was Tom Campbell, who led the youth group at Bolton Little Theatre.

He said: “Tom Campbell was a great man and great teacher, who was passionate about telling stories. It was when I was learning from him that I played Billy Casper in ‘Kes’, which was something I’ll never forget.”

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was released in the UK yesterday.

It has garnered rave reviews from the world’s media, while British actor Idris Elba has already received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as Mandela.

The film documents Mandela’s early life, his time in prison and his rise to become the President of South Africa.

Mr Chadwick added: “The film is an exciting rollercoaster full of emotion. Nelson Mandela’s legacy is huge. Mandela was always true to himself, his country and his beliefs.

“He had this capacity for forgiveness which is totally humbling. He was like any young man who had hopes and dreams. “I wanted to show all sides to Mandela, not just his later life which you see on television.”


Passion for storytelling began at theatre

WHEN Justin Chadwick appeared in Bolton Little Theatre’s production of Kes, a teenager’s passion for the power of storytelling grew even stronger.

It was just one of the productions the director of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom appeared in during his time at the town centre theatre, where he was a member of the youth group.

He landed the role of Billy Casper in the Ken Loach classic, under the guidance of Tom Campbell, aged 69, who he has now credited as an inspiration.

Mr Campbell, who joined BLT as an actor in the late 1960s and went on to run the youth group for about eight years when he lived in Halliwell, said: “I was utterly gobsmacked when I heard he had done so well.

"Iwas completely taken by surprise but, in a crazy sort of way, not surprised. There was something about him. He was so passionate about the theatre.

“He was serious about it and he’s gone on to do amazing things. It was a unique time then. There was a lot going on in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“We did some amazing stuff. Justin was totally focused on what he was doing. He was so passionate and he was so good.”

Frances Clemmitt, from the BLT, said: “He just said this was how he started out in theatre and Tom was the person who inspired him.

“Being in Kes showed him that acting could be about real life, not about playing. It’s really exciting.

"It’s obviously 30 years since he was here, but it’s nice that he’s interested in what goes on in the theatre and that he appreciates how Tom got him started.”

Ian Rayner, of Edgworth, who directed him in On Golden Pond in 1984, said: “He was just a really nice lad who took everything in.”