So what do you do when you bump into Mickey Rourke in a bar? You become his good mate, visit him in his LA mansion and then you retire from your rugby career and follow your dream of becoming a film star. Not something that happens to many of us, but this is the lucky story of prop Keith Mason who has just recently retired from Rugby League.
A chance meeting in a bar in 2009 led to Keith and Mickey forging a strong friendship and luckily for Keith it has led him to his first acting part in a Hollywood movie. Skin Traffik (directed by Ara Paiaya) is set around a jaded hit man (Gary Daniels) who turns vigilante and ends up discovering the Mr Big of the people trade. Filmed in London and LA the story has a host of big names cropping up in it and of course Keith.
This manly thriller has all the hallmarking's of a British underworld action film (think that covers all bases) with a cast to add the glamorous element. Mickey Rourke, Darryl Hanah, Eric Roberts and Micheal Madsen ... and for a British drama the best bit is the fact that Danny Dyer is nowhere to be seen!
I caught up with Keith when he was modelling for the campaign Models of Diversity, as an ex rugby player and hard man actor - I wasn't expecting to find him posing in front of a camera, on Brick Lane, wearing Thomas Farthing.
Image: James Lyons
Keith is a classic case of the underdog coming out on top, from a troubled beginning, in and out of trouble with the law through his teens to finding the straight and narrow via his love for rugby. How does a rugby prop end up in a movie?
"I've been friends with Mickey for a few years now and I have never asked Mickey to put me in a movie and one day he just asked me out of the blue, I had initially spoken to him about my idea, the film 'The Welshman' (which is being scripted by Rourke) but he just asked me what I was doing in two weeks' time? And told me I had the part!"
Moving on to the next photo-shoot, a Bond themed shoot, definitely high octane glamour and Masons natural cheekiness and flirtatiousness came to the fore. What does the future hold for this rugby playing, model and actor?
"I'm in a short film called 'The connection' which was shot in Bradford and will be doing the rounds of the film festivals and I'm also starring in my first feature film about gangs in London which will be shooting this summer. I'll be playing a gang leader."
And any return to the rugby pitch?
"No, with the modelling and acting I can't keep throwing my body around - I'm lucky to still be in one piece. I enjoy doing this stuff, showing my diversity as an actor and model is what I want to do now."
There is another string to his bow, Keith spends time giving motivational talks to children, usually who have a less than privileged background and proves to them that there is an alternative life to crime.
Proving to be a natural when it comes to modelling, and a great communicator, Keith was as at ease in front of the camera as he was talking to me and with this winning attitude, I'm sure it won't be long before he is as well a known face on the screen as well as the pitch.
"Whatever I do, I want to be the best at it. It's not arrogance, it's a hunger. "
Skin Traffik is released summer 2014Suggest a correction