THE up-and-coming Hollywood actor Craig Roberts says he loves filming in his hometown of Maesycwmmer as he shoots his first directorial debut in Gwent.
The star has been filming his debut screenplay Just Jim for the past 12 days in Caerphilly county.
As well as directing and writing the film, the 23-year-old is also starring as the film’s title character Jim, a teenage loser whose life is turned inside out by an enigmatic American neighbour Dean, played by Emile Hirsch, Hollywood actor and star of Into the Wild.
Mr Roberts, star of Submarine and the BBC series Being Human, said: “I love filming in Wales and coming back to film in my hometown.
“Filming here is so easy and is cheaper. It’s going really well, directing is fun – I’m excited to be able to do it.
“My family are still based here, they’ve all been popping up on set.
“My mum is in the film, her role is the ‘average woman’ – it’s not the best titled role for your mother.”
He added: “The story is about growing up in a quiet town – it felt right to base it here. It’s surreal to visit all the old hangouts and film where I used to go as a kid.”
“I didn’t get up to mischief – I was quite a quiet kid playing on my games console.
“I guess parts of it are quite true to my own life as we filmed at my old school.”
The film crew have been shooting scenes at the viaduct and at Lewis School Pengam, with sixth form pupils taking part as extras, and have cast Charlotte Randall a pupil as the love interest.
Mr Roberts shot to fame when he landed his first major role at the age of 19 in Richard Ayoade’s indie hit Submarine, for which he won a Welsh BAFTA for best actor and the London Critics’ Circle Film Award for Young British Performer of the Year.
Just Jim was selected as one of three finalists of Ffilm Cymru Wales’ emerging talent scheme, Cinematic, in partnership with the BFI Film Fund, BBC Films, Creative Skillset, S4C and Soda Pictures to support emerging film-making talent from Wales.
Mr Roberts said: “The first draft I wrote in about a week – it’s been through about 15 drafts, I’m still editing things as we go along – you’re never happy with it.
“I was bored in LA where I was filming a movie and thought about the difference in the sense of humour between Americans and here in Wales, from big humour to dry humour, and thought it would be interesting.”
Mr Roberts said he bagged Hollywood actor Emile Hirsch to join the project through a mutual friend.
He said: “We have a friend in common so I sent the script and he loved it and said he wanted to do it.
“It’s really bizarre working with him in Maesycwmmer – it doesn’t make any sense.
“It’s cool – he’s really amazing and Into the Wild is one of my favourite movies. We’re having a laugh on set.”
Stars from Hinterland Aneirin Hughes, Nia Roberts and Richard Harrington, will also feature as well as newcomer Ryan Owen.
The film is due to be released by Soda Pictures next spring.