Stephen Graham says This Is England role nearly ended his acting career

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Stephen Graham has said he almost “lost” himself while playing a violent fascist in This Is England, and that the role nearly ended his acting career.

The Line Of Duty star played racist thug Andrew “Combo” Gascoigne in the 2006 film, in which he violently beats a black character.

Graham told The Sun: “It was life-changing. I lost myself quite a bit within that character.”

The 45-year-old actor said he would often return to his apartment during filming and phone his wife Hannah while “crying my eyes out”, adding that he relied on alcohol.

“For me that was where I really learned to dive into a character,” he said.

“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 known for roles in the films Snatch and Gangs Of New York as well as the This Is England TV series follow-ups, said that he decided to keep going with acting after he eventually landed an audition.

Stephen Graham in Line Of Duty (Aiden Monaghan/World Productions/BBC)

He also told of how he was subjected to racist abuse in his youth, because his grandfather was from Jamaica.

Graham said: “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 is currently appearing in BBC One’s Line Of Duty as John Corbett.