Derbyshire’s big friendly giant is making great strides in films

Phill Martin with Jimmy Vee and Spencer Wilding.

Phill Martin with Jimmy Vee and Spencer Wilding.

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A big friendly giant is having the last laugh on bullies after making great strides in the film world.

Phill Martin is 7ft tall, has size 16 feet and reckoned he never stopped growing when most boys do. He said: ”I used to get called a lot of names when I was younger - kids can be horrible.”

But the 38­-year­-old dad from Riddings has since turned his height to his advantage, landing film roles in Pan, Prometheus and Jack the Giantkiller and in the TV series Mountain Goat,

HIs biggest role has been playing one of Blackbeard’s pirates in last years’s blockbuster Pan. He said: “When I started this, I never expected to be working in Pan, starring Hugh Jackman who I’d been watching in the Wolverine films.

“Before we started filming Pan we had to go to pirate boot camps where there was sword training, training on weapons like muskets, knot work, practical things that you would do on a ship.

“The most nerve­-wracking thing was floating in mid­-air held up by a wire after being hoisted up in a harness....fighting was quite tame by comparison.”

Prior to Pan he played an elephantine engineer in Promotheus, directed by Ridley Scott, which starred Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba. “I loved that,” said

Phill. “It was a real geek ­fan moment. Being able to go onto the sets and see things that I remember from Alien when I was younger was fantastic.”

It was a big step up from his days as a shop assistant in Blockbuster video store in Ripley. Phill said: “I only did a few months there. I was perhaps not the favourite

employee. I loved talking to people about films and I used to get into trouble because they would ask my opinion and I would tell them what I didn’t like.

“I’ve always been a bit of a film geek. I was watching a documentary about tall guys six years ago and it showed one going for an audition for an agency for tall people

and I thought if he can do that, so can I.”

Phill signed to the Oh So Small agency for tall and short people in Cardiff, enrolled in classes at the Actors Workshop in Nottingham and within a few months landed his

first role in Jack the Giant Killer, starring Ewan McGregor. He said: “I was a pantomime giant and got to eat a dwarf, who was played by Warwick Davies’ son Harrison.”

Phill is currently in pre­-production for a new horror film called Cain Hill, the stars of which will be announced next month. He said: “I play a killer. I’ve always wanted to do a horror film. I love the Halloween films and I’ve always wanted to be like Michael Myers, the guy in the mask, Doing Cain Hill has given me the opportunity to be a guy in the mask. I don’t know whether that will satisfy my craving. I’m a friendly guy but I do like playing these nasty characters.”

The making of Cain Hill will feature on E4’s new reality television series Stage School next month and the film is currently the focus of a crowd funding drive.

Phill’s next cinematic project will be Dark Ascension, starring Brian Blessed and Mackenzie Crook. He said: “I play a warrior demon. It is a film that is set in the afterlife, in purgatory between heaven and hell and things that happen there. Dark Ascension should be rolling off the back of Cain Hill.

Away from the movie business, married man Phill is kept on his toes by a little man at home,­ his 17-­month-old son Bailey.