AT the age of just 15, Austin Haynes has already acted alongside stars such as Jenny Agutter, Christopher Eccleston, Sheridan Smith and Sir Tom Courtenay. And now he can add Hollywood royalty George Clooney to the list.

Austin, who attends Bradford drama school and agency Articulate, is in The Boys in the Boat - the rousing new film about an underdog rowing team that wins gold at the Olympics - directed by George Clooney.

Released this week, it’s the true story of a Depression-era rowing team pulling together for a shot at glory at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Based on Daniel James Brown’s book, it’s an inspiring story of triumph against overwhelming odds.

The film portrays the physically and mentally gruelling sport of rowing, with intense scenes on the water capturing the exertions of a strapping ensemble cast led by Callum Turner, star of Fantastic Beasts, as Joe Rantz and Joel Edgerton (Star Wars) as rowing coach Al Ulbrickson. Austin plays the protagonist Rantz’s grandson.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The film depicts the gruelling sport of rowingThe film depicts the gruelling sport of rowing (Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc./Laurie Sparham)

Aged 14, Joe Rantz is a motherless loner. Abandoned by his father for a new family, he schools himself and learns to be self-reliant. By 1936 the Depression is biting hard in Seattle and 22-year-old Joe is living hand to mouth in a burnt-out car while he studies engineering at the University of Washington.

With a two-week deadline to pay his outstanding tuition fees, Joe responds to an advert promising free lodging and part-time employment to any young man who wins a coveted spot on the university’s rowing team under Coach Al Ulbrickson and his deputies, coaches Bolles and Brown.

Desperation propels Joe to the brink of physical exhaustion and he secures seat two in the junior boat, with a bombastic cox barking orders at the stern. When eyes turn to the forthcoming Poughkeepsie Regatta, which determines the university boat that will represent Team USA at the Olympics, the young rowers draw strength from each other to power through viral infection, self-doubt and a tough training regime.

Austin, who learned to row for the film, which he shot in the Cotswolds, says he was “absolutely over the moon” to land the role: “Not only to be working on a huge MGM movie, but also to be a part of this amazing story and learn about what 1930s America was like for working-class people and the incredible life of Joe Rantz and the rest of his team.”

Austin has been performing from an early age and started taking classes with Articulate aged seven.

He says: “It all started by me putting on comedy/ dancing shows in the living-room for my parents; my mum decided to put me in an acting class to see if I liked it and it just went from there really.”

His first role was in BBC1 drama The A Word and he has since appeared in several Yorkshire-based productions, including Sally Wainwright’s hit Gentleman Jack, All Creatures Great and Small and Somewhere Boy.

Austin’s first major lead role was in The Railway Children Return, starring alongside Sheridan Smith and Jenny Agutter.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: On the red carpet at Keighley Picture HouseOn the red carpet at Keighley Picture House (Image: Gemma Haynes)

The film, a sequel to The Railway Children, was shot in and around Haworth and on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Austin was also awarded the prestigious Achievement in the Arts award at the 2022 Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Austin with Jenny Agutter on the set of The Railway Children Return Austin with Jenny Agutter on the set of The Railway Children Return (Image: Gemma Haynes)

In addition to performing, the talented teen is also a keen guitar player and boxer. His ambition is to combine his passion for acting and film-making. “If I’m fortunate enough I would like to pursue acting as a career, I also have an interest in directing and film-making and if I’m able to do that too, that would be the ultimate dream,” he says. “I have played guitar for a few years now. In terms of sport, I do boxing and would like to go professional in that, like what (American actor) Javon Walton is doing. He’s a successful actor and professional boxer at the same time.”

Austin learned sculling - using oars to propel a boat by moving them through the water on both sides of the craft - for The Boys in the Boat and says it was his favourite to date. “It gave me a completely different dynamic on filming because I’ve never had to learn or train in a new skill/sport for a role before, so the whole experience was special for that,” he says. “I had to attend rowing lessons with GB professionals for this role.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Austin on the water on the film set Austin on the water on the film set (Image: Gemma Haynes)

Speaking about working with George Clooney, Austin says: “As soon as he stepped on to the set there was an immediate buzz of excitement to shoot the scenes!

“George was great to work with. I was a little nervous about meeting him at first, but I had no need to be - he’s so down to earth and really funny!”

Austin has recently been working on series two of BBC hit police drama The Responder in Liverpool, due to be broadcast later this year, as well as feature film Jackdaw. He also likes to help out local film-makers and emerging directors, working on short films, and last year he accepted the offer of the lead role of Jud in a Bradford short film called Youthless, which has been commissioned for television.

Articulate founder and company director Stacey Burrows says: “We are so immensely proud of Austin’s achievements. “He’s a local lad who is working with Hollywood royalty, what a spectacular journey he has had so far. He is one to watch and he will go on to do wonderful things!”