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The Incredible Story Of How Stephen Graham Got His Role In Snatch

Daisy Phillipson

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The Incredible Story Of How Stephen Graham Got His Role In Snatch

Stephen Graham is one of the most talented actors the UK has ever seen, which is what makes the story behind his role in Snatch all the more incredible. 

Although the 48-year-old star has been into acting since he was a kid, he landed his first major part as Tommy in Guy Ritchie’s 2000 crime comedy by chance. 

Speaking on a previous episode of Sky One’s There’s Something About Movies panel show, Graham revealed that he only went to an audition for Snatch to accompany a mate. 

When asked by host Alan Carr how he got his big break, the actor said: “I went with a mate to an audition. It was Guy Ritchie who was directing it so I went along for the ride and that. 

Stephen Graham only went to the Snatch audition to accompany a friend. Credit: Sony Pictures
Stephen Graham only went to the Snatch audition to accompany a friend. Credit: Sony Pictures

“He went in and then he came out and I had a cup of tea. Guy came out and said, ‘Are you next?’ I said, ‘No, I’m just come with my mate.’”

The director asked him if he was an actor and after confirming he was, Ritchie convinced him to come in and audition. 

Graham explained that his dyslexia meant he couldn’t read from the script, but Ritchie was more than happy to have him improvise a scene instead - and it’ll come as no surprise to the Stephen Graham stans out there (us included) that he absolutely smashed it. 

“So we improvise and he was like, ‘Wow, great, okay, well you start on Monday.’ I went, ‘What am I going to tell my mate?’ And he went, ‘It’s not my f**king problem.’”

No doubt there were no hard feelings between him and his mate, especially since the role highlighted Graham’s acting chops and led to further opportunities down the line. 

His career continued to flourish with the release of Shane Meadows’ This is England, in which Graham played the violent skinhead Combo. 

The actor stunned audiences with his performance in This is England. Credit: Optimum Releasing
The actor stunned audiences with his performance in This is England. Credit: Optimum Releasing

While critics and audiences applauded his incredible turn in the film, Graham previously admitted that he nearly left acting due to the impact it had on him. 

Speaking on Desert Island Discs, he said: "It was life-changing. I lost myself quite a bit within that character."

Due to the violence and racism depicted in the film, he said he would often come home and ‘cry my eyes out’ while they were shooting scenes. 

"For me that was where I really learned to dive into a character," he added.

"After This Is England I could not get a job. For about eight months I couldn't get an audition.

"I almost packed it all in. I was going to be a youth worker."

Graham also said that he suffered from racial abuse when he was younger because his grandfather was from Jamaica, stating: "I'm mixed race.

"As a kid I was called ­horrible words that I don't even want to say, and little monkey boy."

Graham plays a head chef pushed to his limits in Boiling Point. Credit: Vertigo Releasing
Graham plays a head chef pushed to his limits in Boiling Point. Credit: Vertigo Releasing

However, the Snatch star thankfully decided to stick it out and has overcome major personal struggles in his life, growing both personally and professionally over the years.

Today he is a god amongst men, having proven his skills in a wide variety of roles such as The Irishman, Boardwalk Empire, Line of Duty and more recently Peaky Blinders

He’s also used his past to provide opportunities to others through his production company Matriarch Productions, which was behind the critically acclaimed 2021 drama Boiling Point

Featured Image Credit: Sony

Topics: Stephen Graham, TV and Film

Daisy Phillipson
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