Sam Kennard takes to sky in WW2 blockbuster Red Tails
GRIMSBY actor Sam Kennard takes to the skies this week in Hollywood star Cuba Gooding Jnr's new film.
Sam, 30, plays the small part of pilot Ben in Red Tails, which is based on the true story of World War Two's first African-American fighter squadron, also known as the Tuskegee airmen.
It also stars Terrence Howard, David Oyelowo, Ne-Yo, and 90210's Tristan Wilds.
Sam, who was born in Grimsby and now lives in London, filmed his scenes in Prague during the summer of 2010.
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He is a former Waltham Leas, Tollbar and Franklin College student and his family still lives in Grimsby.
Oscar-winner Gooding Jnr, has revealed in an interview that he had to plead his case to filmmaker Anthony Hemingway for a role in Red Tails, his directorial debut.
Hemingway wanted a cast of new faces to portray heroic black fighter pilots in the World War Two action drama, and Gooding Jnr's previous portrayal in 1995 HBO TV movie The Tuskegee Airmen instantly put him at such a disadvantage that he had to beg friends to organise a meeting with the director.
"This is such an important story to tell that I wanted to be a part of it, no matter what," Cuba explained.
Fortunately for Gooding Jnr, the "stalking" paid off and he was cast – without an audition – in the role of Major Emmanuel Stance alongside Howard as Colonel AJ Bullard.
Some of the original airmen were on set as consultants, and Gooding Jr found it quite emotional as they recounted their wartime experiences.
"They were there every day. It was just magical, you know. They would just sit and talk to us," Cuba said.
"As you hear them tell their story, you see the pride swell up and the love of what they did."
Star Wars creator George Lucas, with whom Hemingway had worked before, came on board as executive producer on Red Tails, with his LucasFilms production company.
"Just him walking on the set, everybody would sit up straighter, you know? His presence and his immense knowledge of filmmaking... is just insane," Cuba said.
"When he breaks into a story, the whole set just stops. You don't realise how much power this man has. He is a film icon."
Gooding Jnr, who made his big-screen debut in 1988 with a cameo in Coming To America, got his first major role in Boyz N The Hood in 1991, with following parts in Gladiator and A Few Good Men.
But it was his Oscar-winning performance as arrogant American football player Rod Tidwell opposite Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire that propelled him to greater success, and led to roles in box office hits like As Good As It Gets, Pearl Harbor and American Gangster.
Sam first appeared on our screens alongside twin brother Matt in children's television programmes, including as presenters of the Disney Club alongside Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates.
The brothers went on to work on a number of projects together, including films Born Of Hope, Inseparable Coil, and Freight.
Matt also played practice nurse Archie Hallam in BBC1's Doctors for two years.
The brothers have also set up their own production company.
Red Tails opens in cinemas nationwide – including The Parkway Cinema in Cleethorpes – on Wednesday.