That was Skin Traffik, with Mickey, Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen. I played Steiner, Mickey’s henchman. The night before the shoot I couldn’t sleep thinking, ‘I’m going to be speaking a movie tomorrow’. I was shitting myself.
It was so weird. When I turned 22, I played in a Challenge Cup final for St Helens. We had a superstar team and I felt like I could deal with that and worked hard for that.
But the film, that was out of my league. Like me wanting to go play for Manchester United.
I never had an acting lesson, just watched films on a screen, and now I was starring in a film. Not just being an extra, but a speaking actor. Mickey made it natural. If it hadn’t been with Mickey, I wouldn’t have done as well.
It was an awesome experience and it gave me a vision for life after rugby league. A lot of players don’t have anything to fall back on, they no longer get a trade like the old days. I never had one.
THE FILM IS STILL THE END GAME
When I retired from football I was determined to go into the film business. I had been out to Hollywood on the sets and I’m keen to learn everything from production, direction, and how to get one financed.
The graphic novel Rugby Blood came from a movie script I wrote with Norwegian writer Ben Von Cronos about a rugby star who saves the world.
It’s me saying thanks to rugby league. Because rugby league is in my blood.
RUGBYBLOOD the 1st ever Comic featuring @SuperLeague and @NRL superstars of the game as comic hero’s🦸♂️🦸♀️ will they help David king save the world❗️🌎
Purchase your copy here 👇🏽
Rugby Blood https://t.co/dfvWsc3mDb Endorsed by @SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/uIbwelD01W
— Keith Mason official (@Realkeithmason) September 1, 2019
I got a meeting at Pinewood Studios with a producer. They liked it and I think they saw something in me. Some of the pictures I’ve got have a resemblance to Daniel Craig. I get a lot of that, although I reckon I’m a younger and better version!
It takes a lot of time to get a movie made. You’ve got to find investors and talent. The film is still the end game, but I’ve got to be realistic.
I teamed up with artist Paul Roper to do the graphic novel as an origin story for the film. The main character David King is a young kid who goes through his struggles and adversities and becomes a star player. The kid in that comic is me.
When the second comic – Shot Clock – comes out it goes into a whole new world, with rugby league current superstars fighting bad guys.
I’ve been building a franchise of Super League and NRL players to feature in there. I’ll have the women of league in there as well. I want to get it into a series on Netflix, then anime and a film.
NO SACRIFICE, NO GLORY
When I retired from rugby league I had two years where I was lost. I was throwing money away, went through a bout of depression.
Every sportsman when they retire struggles with the transition.
My slogan for Rugby Blood is ‘no sacrifice, no glory’ and that’s how I think I am too.
Look at my transition from a sportsman to an actor to an entrepreneur. It sounds glamorous but I worked my arse off.
Mickey opened the door for me, for sure. But I’ve done my apprenticeship now. I’d travel from Leeds to London on a bus – five hours for a five-minute audition and then five hours back again.
TO BE GOOD STARTS WITH YOU
My partner, Riona Kelly, is paralysed. She’s one of the big reasons I just go for it.
We became a phenomena in the media at home – ‘rugby league star helps lady walk again’.
People have bought into our story and think it’s incredible that a guy who’s quite young and fit and an ex-international league player is going out with a lady who’s in a wheelchair.
I knew plenty of pretty young girls who liked the glitz and glamour but Riona gave me a lot of time and I’d never had that in a relationship before.
She contacted me through Facebook looking for a personal trainer. Because of her injury no one would take her on. She told me she had a problem with her legs; she didn’t tell me she was paralysed.
She suffered a stroke on New Year’s Eve, almost died. I said to her, as she laid in that hospital bed, ‘this year is going to be the best year of our lives’.
‘You’re going to get out of this bed, we’re going to go to Chicago’, where she’d been invited to do a motivational speech, ‘and you’re going to blow people’s minds’. And she did – she got a standing ovation for a minute and a half.
My life is like a movie, and if it all happened to me by accident I would be in shock. But I know how hard I’ve worked. To have a good life, you have to be disciplined and be a good person. To be a good person starts with you.
What happens to many sportsmen when they retire is they suffer an identity crisis. If you’re lucky to play a decade. You need to take away all the good things and bad things as well and throw yourself into something.
You’ve got to be willing to let go of what’s been the biggest part of your life and start from scratch.
Get ready to reset your goals and make, sacrifices to achieve them.
As well as acting, I commit time to Physical Disability Rugby League as an ambassador for Wakefield Trinity, and I have my own clothing line, ProjectMason working with performance clothes manufacturer Kilogear Cut, and donating a percentage to mental health charities.
Sport is just one chapter, not the final chapter. When the cheers have died down and the stadium lights are off you, that’s when you find out who you are.
I hope my journey can inspire others to create a new path and chase their dreams.