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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 02:04 GMT
Army life for Billy Elliot actor
Scene from Billy Elliot movie
The BBC movie has grossed millions around the world
Billy Elliot star Stuart Wells is turning his back on a glittering Hollywood career - for a life of squarebashing.

The 19-year-old, who played Billy's gay friend Michael in the film about a boy with a passion for ballet, will be joining the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

He was persuaded by his brother, John, 17, who is already serving with the fusiliers in Germany.

The Tyneside youngster is starring in ITV's drama Peak Practice and has returned from three months on location in Spain with Hollywood stars Willem Dafoe and Brian Cox filming The Reckoning, released this month.

Stuart will now be able to build himself the kind of active, enjoyable and rewarding career he has always wanted

Major Brian Young

Mr Wells, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, said: "I'd always wanted to join the army, but got sidetracked from this goal when Billy Elliot became a big hit.

"While I really enjoy acting itself, there's an awful lot of hard graft and boring meetings which no-one sees and which I don't enjoy at all.

"So I've decided to move on from professional acting and finally fulfil my army ambition.

"I'm really looking forward to getting into army life and to accessing all the training, travel and sporting opportunities that my brother has already enjoyed."

Miners' strike

Mr Wells will sign up at the Newcastle Armed Forces careers office at lunchtime on Monday, joined by his brother and Major Brian Young, senior recruiter for the Newcastle region.

Major Young said: "It might seem strange that someone would join the army rather than follow the acting profession.

"But Stuart will now be able to build himself the kind of active, enjoyable and rewarding career he has always wanted."

Billy Elliot, co-produced by BBC Films, has grossed millions of pounds worldwide.

The firm, set in the North East during the 1984/85 miners' strike, tells the story of a pitman's son struggling to become a ballet dancer against his father's wishes.


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