Thrilled to announce that we have now cast their two leads in my short film Rest Stop. The leads will be played by BAFTA-winning actor Ben Willbond (Horrible Histories, Yonderland, The Thick of It) and Canadian actress Cari Leslie, an alumna of Amsterdam’s acclaimed live comedy show Boom Chicago.
Rest Stop follows Meredith, a Canadian backpacker who finds herself cajoled into believing that a British man she meets in an M3 service station is her Guardian Angel.
Our team has been mentored on the development of our project by Jonathan Wakeham, co-founder of LOCO and Saskia Schuster, Commissioning Editor for comedy at Sky, who has exec produced shows including Yonderland and Little Crackers Series 2 & 3.
We start shooting in the next two weeks in London.
Ben first came to prominence as one half of ‘Ben and Arn’, winning the Perrier Best Newcomer Award for The Ben ‘n’ Arn Show at the Edinburgh Festival in 1998. He has since appeared in all five series of the award-winning CBBC series Horrible Histories, which long list of awards includes five BAFTAs, a 2011 Broadcast Award and Best Sketch Show at The British Comedy Awards in both 2010 and 2011. With the team from Horrible Histories, Ben then went on to co-write and star in family adventure fantasy Yonderland for Sky 1.
After appearing as ‘Adam Kenyon’ in a one-off episode in Series 2 of The Thick Of It (BBC2), Ben returned as the same character in a main role in Series 4. 2008 saw Ben star alongside co-writers Laura Solon and Marek Larwod in Laura, Ben and Him, their acclaimed multi-character sketch show for ITV2. Other TV appearances include series one and two of Rev (BBC2), Extras (BBC1), Lead Balloon (BBC2), The Catherine Tate Show (BBC2) and Black Books (Channel 4).
Ben co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in the LOCO Discovery Award-winning short film Tooty’s Wedding, which in 2011 won the LA Shorts Film Festival Award for Best Short, the Grand Jury Prize for Best Comedy at the Rhode Island Film Festival and the Best Foreign Film and Best Director awards at the LA Comedy Festival. In 2012 it screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and the inaugural Sundance London, and was nominated for the Sundance Shorts Award.
Most recently he has co-written the feature film BILL which is currently in production with BBC Films, in which he will star alongside the cast from Horrible Histories and Yonderland. Ben’s other film roles include Your Highness, Cemetery Junction, Starter For Ten, I Want Candy, Click and St Trinian’s.
Cari Leslie is an actor and improvisor currently based out of Amsterdam. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Cari hosted three seasons of the children’s educational television series, A World of Wonders, taking her to 28 different countries, and which was nominated for Best Children’s or Youth TV Program or Series at the Gemini Awards (now the Canadian Screen Awards) in 2010. In 2011, Cari moved to Amsterdam to join the cast of Boom Chicago, performing improv and sketch comedy nightly to international audiences.
Before the move, Cari was active in the Canadian improv scene, co-founding Crush Improv, an Ottawa-based longform improv troupe, as well as performing in various festivals around the country and volunteering with the Canadian Improv Games, a national high school improv tournament. She also spent a couple of summers performing outdoor Shakespeare in parks around Ottawa with A Company of Fools, playing Enobarbus/Pompey in Antony and Cleopatra, and Puck/Egeus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.