New film Finding Your Feet features Chichester's Frankie Oatway

Frankie and Imelda
Frankie and Imelda

It’s at the start, it’s one of the best scenes in the movie and it features Witterings-based actor Frankie Oatway.

Frankie is cab-driver to a rather-worse-for-wear Imelda Staunton at the beginning of Finding Your Feet which is currently on the big screens.

“In the opening sequence Imelda’s character discovers her husband is having an affair and goes from riches to rags in a moment.

“She picks up a cab to take her to her sister’s, and I am the cabbie. I take her there and I wake her up and ask for the fare and she says this silly line about would I take her bags.

“I give her a couple of nice reactions. I haven’t seen the film yet myself, but I say something like ‘I am a cab driver, darling, not a footman!’

“To be working with one of the top actors in the country was just great. There were lots of people around just wanting to get involved with that film, people scratching around. For me, it was lovely. To be working with Imelda was brilliant. She is great and so is Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie (who are also in it).”

It all comes as things are starting to kick off big time for Frankie. Frankie retains his base in the Witterings, but is currently living in France with a view to moving out to the States by the end of the year.

“I have got an agent in the States, and I am going to get earmarked for a Netflix series. I will be setting up a base in Montana.

“It could be a two-year deal for me. There is a lot of negotiations going on at the moment. I think I should know more within eight to ten weeks.”

Frankie has also enjoyed success in My Name Is Lenny, a 2017 British sports drama film directed by Ron Scalpello and written by Martin Askew and Paul Van Carter. The film stars Josh Helman, Chanel Cresswell, Michael Bisping and John Hurt in his penultimate film role. The film was based on the bare-knuckle fighter Lenny McLean.

“I was auditioned to play one of the main characters Kenny Mac who was the main influence who introduced the career of bare-knuckle fighting to Lenny when he was in his twenties.

“Kenny was a man’s man, a real life Del Boy who ran a second-hand car front and scrap yard from east London where he organised plenty of fights for Lenny with some tough opponents Kenny used to make up an illegal makeshift ring in his scrapyard out of a length of old rope and four gas canisters to resemble the corners of a boxing ring, a real spit-and-sawdust set-up but very effective.

“There was no shortage of punters. Kenny had them lined up left, right centre for Lenny. As long as Kenny could see a pound note, he would keep Lenny very busy.

“It was a real challenge to play Kenny. Even though I come from that side of life, I took time and studied some of the old documentary footage of Kenny Mac.

“In the film I play alongside Josh Helman from the film X-Men and Mad Max who plays Lenny. Josh was a true professional to work with. We bounced off each other really well. I also worked closely with Nick Moran from Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.”

It’s all quite a turn-around for Frankie who started acting around six years ago.

“I had very little education and come from a tough background. I served in the parachute regiment for eight years from 17 years old.

“I’m from Nottingdale, the less ponced-up working-class area of Notting Hill. I was a builder for over 25 years then fell into acting.”

Other stories by Phil: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2
See also: https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/arts/the-secrets-of-travelling-safely-1-8417899