Dane Hughes and Seren Hawkes were both picked for starring roles in Swallows and Amazons after being spotted by a casting director who came to see the GCSE drama class at St John’s College in Southsea.
The talented teens play the young leads in the new adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book alongside the likes of Kelly Macdonald, Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott and Harry Enfield.
After a lengthy audition process, the year 11 students won their roles, as John Walker and Nancy Blackett respectively.
Seren, 16, from Southsea, said: ‘It’s amazing how we both got in. I thought I had absolutely no chance, I was in such shock when they told me I had got it.’
Dane added: ‘I mainly went to the auditions because my friend Seren wanted to go. My dad kind of talked me into doing it.’
And they got on well with the adult actors too.
‘They would have a genuine conversation with me, not just talk about acting,’ said Seren. ‘They were all so lovely.’
Dane, 16, said: ‘It was very different from what I was expecting on set. It was very stop-start and there was a lot of sitting around, but it was great and they were all really nice. Rafe was really funny.’
He also got on well with Spectre and Sherlock star Scott. ‘He was in Band of Brothers which I love. At the end of shooting he gave me a poster he had from that which was signed by all the cast. I couldn’t believe it.’
But both of the young actors are keeping their feet firmly on the ground.
‘I’m kind of carrying on as normal and planning to start college in September,’ said Seren.
And Dane has rather different plans: ‘I’m not looking for anything more from this, it was fun, but I’ve always wanted to join the army.’
The families were invited to a special advance screening of the film earlier this month.
Sian Hawke, 44, Seren’s mum, said: ‘It’s strange seeing her play a character as I’m not used to it, but she was fantastic. She loved the experience, but she’s realistic – I think she’d like to do some more acting if the chance comes up.’
Dane’s dad, Stuart Hughes, 46, from Middle Wallop, added: ‘It was absolutely amazing. It was difficult to take the film in at first because we were so busy watching our kids, but the way it’s filmed is so beautiful. As a parent I was blown away by how good he is.’