William Snape was born 17 April 1985 at Sheffield, Yorkshire, England,
The Mirror How
Emmerdale's William Rebuilt His Dreams Of Fame
Mar 19 2003
By Claire Donnelly
AS the child star of hit film The Full Monty, William Snape seemed set for
a long and glittering showbiz career.
At 12, he caused a sensation in the Oscar-nominated movie and was bombarded
by directors believing he was the next big thing.
Between auditions, William spent his time being mobbed by fans and enjoying
the celebrity circuit.
But the bubble burst for the Sheffield-born schoolboy as he struggled to get
his next big break.
William - known to friends and family as Wim - was involved in a horrific accident.
His family feared he would die and doctors were amazed he did not lose his
Now 17, he is hoping to make his mark again after joining ITV soap Emmerdale
as farmer Stephen Butler.
Speaking of his ordeal for the first time, he reveals the truth about his accident
and tells how his faltering career left him depressed and disheartened.
He says: "It was weird going through years of people saying that I'd been
in a great British film and that surely I'd be doing this and that.
" I thought I was going to be doing big things. I was getting sent scripts
and going for auditions but just not getting them.
" It did leave me feeling down. Then the accident made things worse. I had
to learn to walk again and spent seven months getting better. Doctors told me
if it had happened 10 years ago, I would have lost my leg.
" It's not 100 per cent now but it doesn't stop me doing anything. I still
play football with my friends.
" Emmerdale is a great opportunity and I'm determined to make the best of
it. It's just what I wanted and I feel very lucky."
Lady Luck has certainly been a fickle mistress to William.
Plucked from obscurity to play Nathan, Robert Carlyle's son in the 1997 film
The Full Monty, the Sheffield-born youngster found himself catapulted in to
" It all happened very quickly," he says. "One minute I was at
school, the next I was in Hollywood.
" The casting director had come into school, looking for someone to be in
" She said it was going to be a low-budget film that might not even make
it to the cinema.
" I wasn't liking school much and it sounded like good fun.
" I went through seven auditions and the last one was nerve-racking because
Robert Carlyle was there.
" But we got on and felt really comfortable with each other." Amazed
he got the part -
when my mum and dad told me, I ran round screaming" - he loved
every minute of filming.
I decided then that I wanted to be an actor," he says. "I
just knew this was the life for me."
Although William's mum Jenny, 49, who lives with his brother and her boyfriend
near the young actor, warned him not to be disappointed if the film wasn't
a success, when it was released in America, the team realised they had a huge
hit on their hands.
William flew to LA for the premiere and was inundated with offers. "There
was an after-show party and every actor had their own table and at each there
was a queue of about 15 agents, casting directors and managers wanting to sign
us up. It was mad."
Back in England, William who lives with dad Duncan, 50, and a stepbrother and
sister, found himself thrown into the showbiz world. "I enjoyed it all," he
says. "I went to the BAFTAs and met everyone - Sean Connery, Billy Connolly,
Dame Judi Dench. It was overwhelming.
" At the comedy awards, I remember standing at the urinals with Ewan McGregor
and Chris Evans. It was like another world."
The film made William a rich boy, too. Producer Uberto Pasolini gave the cast
and crew a share of the profits, estimated at £100,000 each.
BUT away from the hype and applause, things weren't so much fun. Some of his
friends at Dobcroft Junior School resented William's success and when he moved
up to Silverdale School, things got worse.
" At first, I tried not to tell people too much about the filming but it
was hard explaining where I'd been for six weeks.
" It's strange because you soon know who your friends are - a lot of the
people I auditioned with were my friends from school... and they're not now.
No one said anything to my face but people would keep their distance.
" For the Year Six ball - at the end of primary school - I hired a limo
for all my friends, thinking it would be a laugh.
" I wasn't trying to be flash, I just thought it would be fun. But my mum
told me that some girls were saying: `Look at him, coming to a little party in
a car like that, he's such a show-off.'
" It was difficult starting a new school because they all knew me but I
didn't know them. You'd hear people saying, `The Full Monty kid is at our school'.
Every time I walked down the corridor they'd sing tunes from the film."
Soon, the attention from fans became too much to bear, too.
" I couldn't go into town," he sighs. "There were loads of people
recognising me. One day, this group of girls started pulling hairs out of my
head. One was saying: `I'll keep it for ever!'"
Still trying out for parts - "it became a routine: audition for something,
then get the rejection" - William began to wonder if he'd ever make it.
Then at 14, the accident happened and everything changed.
Leaving school one afternoon, he was hit by a car as he crossed the road. His
leg was so badly broken, William needed two operations and 18 steel pins to
get him back on his feet.
Fidgeting nervously, he says: "One minute I was walking out, the next
thing I knew I was flying through the air. I remember seeing red and landing
on my head. I was in a lot of pain. I spoke to people later who saw it happen
- they said I'd flown so high up, it looked like something out of a film.
" I came round but when I tried to stand, my leg was broken. It couldn't
support my weight and I collapsed.
" There were also cuts all up my arm but just a tiny bump on my head - it's
a miracle I didn't have head injuries.
" They took me to hospital and put me under anaesthetic so they could manipulate
my leg and put it in a cast.
" But overnight it really swelled and the pain was unbearable. They took
the cast off and rushed me into the operating theatre, where they put in four
" They realised that wasn't really working so I had to have another operation
where they put in 18 pins.
" I've got scars all over my legs and the pain was excruciating. I was on
every kind of drug - they gave me morphine on demand.
" After three weeks, I couldn't even sit or stand up. When I did, I vomited
- it was a combination of the tablets and being laid-up for so long.
" Then for seven months I had to clean out the holes where the pins were,
to make sure there were no germs there that could cause infection.
" It was a nightmare, really. It's not the type of thing you ever think
could happen to you. It was awful for my parents. My dad and brother were in
Surrey at the time and one of my sister's friends called them and said: `Will's
been in an accident, he might not have much longer. Come back.' They made it
there in about an hour.
" After things stabilised, I had to learn to walk again and needed physiotherapy
every day... But I got there in the end."
STILL keen to pursue his acting career, William enrolled on a drama course
in Chesterfield, Derbys, before starting a full-time course in October last
But just two months later, he got the big break he'd been waiting for.
Trying out for the part of Emmerdale's Stephen Butler, he approached the audition
in Leeds with some scepticism. But by the time he got back to Sheffield, they'd
offered him the job.
His first scenes were aired in January and William has since become a regular
on the show. He now gets stacks of fan mail, though he's currently single,
and says he couldn't be happier - especially because few people recognise him
on the street any more.
Dressed in faded jeans and a white Lacoste T-shirt, William looks like any
other Yorkshire lad - the only sign of his TV star status is the expensive-
looking Burberry bag he slings over his shoulder as he gets ready to leave.
Smiling broadly, he seems to have finally found the success he deserves.
" Everyone has been so kind to me," he explains. "The cast are
great and have made me really welcome - they are some of my best friends now.
" I'm just pleased that I've been given this chance.
" Acting is a tough business - I've learnt that the hard way - but I feel
like things are working out for me."