Peak District film star walks the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival alongside Jude Law
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Richard Taylor applied to be an extra in Firebrand - the historical film which focuses on Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII - however the casting team decided he had the right look and he was given a featured role and appears twice in the official trailer.
The 51-year-old from Buxton who only a couple of years ago took on hundreds of free climbs across Stannage Edge to raise money for charity, said: “Climbing rocks has made me fearless.
“I auditioned so it would be something to tell my grandchildren if I have any, I wasn’t scared, I just went in to and was me and I think that’s what made me stand out.”
Richard plays John Dudley, the most powerful man below the King, played by Jude Law so he was in a lot of the same scenes as the Hollywood star.
Richard said: “I think I can call Jude Law a friend now.
“Firebrand premiered at Cannes and then there were two after parties, one for people associated with the film and another for the cast and crew which I went to.
“As I was leaving the French press were there and behind me was Jude Law who shook my hand and said he would see me on the next film and all the photographers were looking at me wondering who I was.
“He’s a great guy but he’s no different than anyone else. I’m a gardener by trade and get paid to do people’s gardens. He’s an actor and gets paid to speak.
“I spoke to him, and all the other cast members, as me and didn’t pretend to be someone else.”
Filming at Haddon Hall started in March last year and ran until July and the days were long, says Richard.
“Sometimes you would be on set from 5am until 10pm.
“You don’t just film a scene once you film it from every possible angle.
“So when you go again to film the same scene you have to remember where you were and exactly where you had your hands - but it’s all good fun.”
Haddon Hall is popular filming location and was the backdrop for The King in 2019 which starred Timothee Chalamet as King Henry V, Robert Pattinson and Joel Edgerton and was co-directed by Brad Pitt.
Three film adaptations of Jane Eyre have also been shot there, along with cult movie The Princess Bride and productions such as Mary Queen of Scots, The Other Boleyn Girl and Pride and Prejudice.
“It’s a great place for film set and in the beautiful countryside too.
“When I first saw the film I got excited because my rocks of Stannage Edge that I’ve climbed so many times were in the opening shot,” said Richard.
Since filming wrapped on Firebrand Richard has got himself an agent and has now worked on nine film or tv shows.
“I’ve worked with Kate Winslet on The Regime, Ewan McGregor on a Gentleman in Moscow which was actually filmed in a studio in Manchester not in Russia, House of Dragons, Outlander and as a Welsh grave digger for an independent film.”
Even after rubbing shoulders with top film stars, Richard is still looking after people’s gardens in the High Peak.
He said: “It’s not mega money.
“A couple of hundred quid for a silent extra although it is more if you have a speaking role.
“But the money from filming has kept me going through the winter when there wasn’t as much gardening work.
“The director of Firebrand has my number and he actually rang me while I was up a tree doing some pruning work in Furness Vale and invited me to Cannes.”
Richard is still in France at the moment and says he has to pinch himself to remind himself that this actually is happening.
“I walked down the red carpet in a tuxedo with an American Loreal model - I felt like James Bond.”
But for Richard, being an actor really is just one of the interesting jobs he has had in his life.
He spent six months in the Antarctic working with a steel team creating a new home for the researcher base.
He also met the Queen in Guernsey while dressed up as a 17th century sailor with no shoes on.
He said: “The Queen was in Guernsey to celebrate the 60th liberation of the island after the Second World War and I was there doing historical rope making.
“I didn’t know she was going to be coming down this bit of the pier and I remember thinking as she approached me that I’d read you could be served capital punishment if you met the monarch without footwear on.
“She came over to me and asked what I was doing so I told her and apologised for not having shoes on and she said not to worry and I have very nice feet.
“I suppose I have done quite a lot of living in my time.
“But life is an adventure, something to be enjoyed and experienced.
“So if an opportunity comes your way, walk right towards it with your head held high and embrace the challenge and the new people you will meet.”