In a new Welsh TV drama starring a Game of Thrones actor who was inspired by his teacher, a jet black steed from The Crown will take center stage. Mark Lewis Jones, a Wrexham native who also played in Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe, claimed her intervention “changed my life.”
Mark is now filming Dal y Mellt (Catching the Lightning) at Bryn Ifan farm, near Clynnog, on the Lln Peninsula. The S4C drama has been compared as a Welsh version of “Lock, Stock” and “The Italian Job” — complete with a horse.
Mark paid respect to his former theatre Teacher, Gwawr Mason, who died in 2020. Her motivation sparked his desire to become a professional actor while he was a student at Ysgol Morgan Llwyd in Wrexham.
She invited him to appear in a school play called Culhwch and Olwen 40 years ago. It was to pave the way for a successful career in cinema, television, and theater, which included a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Mark claimed that the moment she approached him was still vivid in his mind. “For some reason, I agreed,” he said. “I had no interest in acting prior to that and no one in my family had ever gone into the arts.
“That moment changed my life. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the help she gave to people like me and working class families around Rhos and Wrexham. She helped very many of us, not just me.
“She was a very special woman. She had a lot of influence over us as young people at the time.”
Dal y Mellt is based on Iwan “Iwcs” Roberts’ contemporary thriller book of the same name, published in Trawsfynydd. It will air on S4C later this year and is set in rural Meirionnydd, Cardiff, and London’s Soho.
Mark portrays Mici Ffin, a nasty guy who manages a garage and suffers from PTSD, in the series. A horse named Chief co-stars alongside him, and the narrative focuses mostly around him. Odysseus, a nine-year-old Friesian horse named after the hero of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, is his true name.
“The horse is like another character in the series,” said Mark. “He’s pretty spectacular and that’s important because the character’s important and a big part of the story.”
Millions of people will recognize the magnificent steed from the Netflix smash The Crown and classics like Mary Queen of Scots.
Dolbadarn Film Horses, which was headquartered in Llanberis for many years but has recently relocated to Abergele, provided him.
Welsh film projects, according to horse expert Dylan Jones, are a great contrast to the major studio films he’s worked on like Warhorse and Game of Thrones. Ifor Williams Trailers, located in Corwen, equipped Chief with a “gold grade” HBX horsebox to transport him between destinations.
Dylan said: “Dal y Mellt is going to be a fantastic series and I enjoyed working with them 100%. It’s been a lot of fun. Chief has a central role in the series and I’m pleased we’re using a HBX from Ifor Williams Trailers.”
Dyfan Roberts, a seasoned actor from Rhydymain who currently lives in Llanrug, is also in the cast. He portrays Gronw, an enraged widower who is the father of Chief’s owner Antonia.
He said: “Although it’s a crime thriller, there’s also a lot of humour. The characters are warm and very Welsh. It’s like a cross between the Guy Ritchie film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and the Michael Caine classic, The Italian Job, with a Welsh twist.”
Young Anglesey actor Gwon Morris Jones, who plays Carbo, is also a part of the cast. He compares him to James Dean’s character, who is on the run from “evil guys.”
He had to execute his own stunts for the part and had some “great experiences.” He said, “I’ve been fighting, driving fast automobiles, and hanging upside down from a crane!”
Llyr Morus, whose credits include Keeping Faith and Pobol y Cwm, was in charge of bringing Dal y Mellt to life. Even before the novel was released, he purchased the television rights.
He said: “Iwcs sent me a copy of the manuscript and I read it in one sitting of four hours. It was really gripping so I rang him straight away and told him it was fantastic.”
Vox Pictures, located in Cardiff, is producing the six-part series. This autumn, it will be shown on S4C.