Saturday, January 16, 2010

Teenage actor Wesley Nelson plays the young Ian Drury

A 13-year-old disabled actor from south Wales is enjoying critical acclaim in a new feature film on the life of rock star Ian Dury.
Wesley Nelson, from Gwaelod-y-Garth, plays the young Dury in the film Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.

Uncompromising and anarchic, Dury was struck down by polio as a child which left him permanently disabled.
Wesley, who has cerebral palsy, says he's inspired by a man who didn't let disability hamper his life and career.

With his band The Blockheads, Ian Dury found fame with hits like Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick and Reasons to be Cheerful.

A controversial character, Dury contracted polio at the age of seven and spent over a year in hospital.
He was then sent to Chailey Heritage Craft School for disabled children in Sussex where he was badly bullied, but the experience helped shape his character.
The death of rock star Gene Vincent in 1971 kickstarted Dury's musical career with pub rock band Kilburn and the High Roads, before he found greater fame in the post-punk era as the charismatic, belligerent frontman of the Blockheads.
Dury died in March 2000 aged 57 following a long battle with colon cancer.

Wesley admits that one of his most memorable experiences working on the film was a scene where the young Dury was suffering at school.

"I'm in Chailey and I get thrown into the attic. It was a great scene to play. There was this big attic and there were callipers hanging from the walls, it was great fun," he says.

Wesley is currently appearing in Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn's play Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National Theatre in London. He says he's always been interested in acting.

"I used to do workshops in Cardiff and it just developed from there," he says.
"The more auditions I got the more experience I got. Then I did Mrs Affleck at the National Theatre and then I got Sex&Drugs which were two really big things."

The movie includes a host of stars including Ray Winstone and Mackenzie Crook, plus Andy Serkis who has been universally praised for his portrayal of Dury as an adult.

Wesley very much enjoyed the experience of working with Serkis - best known for his role as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies - describing him as one of his acting heroes.

As a young actor finding success despite cerebral palsy, Wesley admits that Ian Dury is an inspiration.
"He said to everyone, no I'm not just going to sit down and not do anything, I'm going to fight against it and become something really big which is what he did in the end."

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