Haverhill band member had a bigger than expected role in box office hit Last Christmas
A disabled man who plays in a Haverhill band has described his appearance in the number one box office movie Last Christmas as ‘off the chart”.
Gary Stephenson plays a homeless man in the movie, which was created by Emma Thompson and her husband and fellow actor, Greg Wise, both of whom are in the film.
Gary plays clarinet in the Easy Notes Band founded and led by Haverhill music teacher Lynn Bond.
The 20 to 30 piece band plays each year at various venues in Haverhill, including Cleves Place care home and at Sainsbury’s, where it raises money for the Salvation Army.
Gary, 55, who lost both his legs in a motorbike accident in 2006, is signed to the agency Universal Extras and has had a few small roles in adverts and TV productions.
However, his role in Last Christmas, which features 14 songs by Wham or by George Michael, was said Gary, his ‘biggest yet’.
He got the role after after submitting a video to the agency of himself playing Silent Night on guitar and he was subsequently offered a part in the film.
He plays in a band, made up of homeless people, at a Christmas party with one of the film’s leads Kate, played by Emilia Clarke.
Gary described an experience he had while in a queue with the rest of the ‘homeless’ cast while on set.
“This lady came across with a box of chocolates and was offering them to all the people in the queue and it turns out it was Emma Thompson.”
The conversation led to an interesting development, as Gary explained: “I sort of suggested to Emma that ‘I will skateboard if you want’ and she said that was a brilliant idea, let’s get that in the film.
“They started filming again in January and I went in and took my skateboard and what Emma had written in the script was basically that I was singing. playing the guitar and skateboarding at the same time.
“It was in the film. It’s only maybe two seconds long. It’s a very short little piece in the middle of the auditions for the Christmas party.
“I’m in the final party scene and also pop up in the background about 10 to 15 times at the homeless shelter.”
Gary was even introduced to Wham’s Andrew Ridgeley by Emma Thompson.
“To have Emma Thompson introduce you to Andrew Ridgeley is one of those ‘did that really just happen’ moments isn’t it,”said Gary.
“It was just off the chart. It’s just a fantastic experience, the whole thing.”
More by this authorSteve Barton