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The only lesson I’ve learned from life: Jason Flemyng says anyone can take a wrong turn in life

The only lesson I’ve learned from life: Jason Flemyng says anyone can take a wrong turn in life

  • Jason Flemyng, 53, is best known for Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels
  • Actor living in South London said he was involved in crime when he was growing up
  • He revealed a parent and a strong mentor steered him in the right direction

53-year-old Jason Flemyng is best known for his roles in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and The Curious case of Benjamin Button. He is currently displayed in Save Me Too on Sky. He lives with his wife, Elly Fairman and their nine –year-old twins, Noah and Cassius.

Thirty years ago, when I was with the Royal Shakespeare Company, we toured a play through highly secured Category A prisons. I was terrified, but soon realized that although they were guilty of atrocious crimes, these men were capable of compassion and intelligence and exceeded people’s expectations.

Prison and addiction could easily have been my destiny. I grew up in South London, in a poor one-parent family. When I was 15, I was involved in car theft, petty thieves and criminal damage. My mother picked me up from the police station a few times. Mama was a dancer when she met my father, but she became a social worker and worked with homeless people and alcoholics.

Jason Flemyng, 53, (photo) who lives in South London, explained the importance of compassion for those who made some wrong decisions

Jason Flemyng, 53, (photo) who lives in South London, explained the importance of compassion for those who made some wrong decisions

She also learned to turn houses. We would move to a house that was a mess, and she would work all day, then come home and plaster and paint and hang shelves. After six months, she would sell and make the down payment for the next house. To keep me and my big brother Gareth out of the care, she did what was necessary.

My alcoholic father disappeared early, so Gareth was the father figure in my family. He became a social worker and has always had a strong influence in my life. He’s only a few years older than me, but would work out the finances to get through the week with my mom.

Although I was involved in crime, I made some happy choices. At an early age I was driven to become an actor and that eventually saved me from a crime life.

I’m lucky to have been steered in the right direction by a great parent and a strong male mentor, but not everyone is. Just because someone made some wrong decisions can we still have compassion for them, and we should, especially when lives have been ruined by alcohol and drug abuse.

I know how easy it is to go down that road to crime – you take only two turns to the left instead of two turns to the right – and I’m thankful I didn’t.

Jason’s More Than My Past podcast is available at morethanmypast.org.uk

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