By Emma Hooper
A Kingston law graduate has swapped the barristers’ chambers for the film studios and made a huge success with his first feature film in “the wisest investment he’s ever made”.
Leslie Thomas, 38, invested and helped to produce the Award winning blockbuster, We Need to Talk About Kevin.
“I keep pinching myself and wondering when am I going to wake up,” he said.
“I am just an ordinary boy from South-west London. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be involved in a film as big as this.”
Leslie Thomas graduated from Kingston in 1988 and spent 21 years at the Bar before taking the career break to invest in his first film.
The thriller, starring Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton star, won the top prize at the London Film Festival and second prize at the Cannes Film Festival and has now been released in the UK.
The film sheds light on the feelings of responsibility and grief of a mother whose teenage son went on a killing spree.
Leslie is a specialist in human rights and a successful barrister at London’s Garden Court Chambers. “I had been working so hard for all those years as a barrister,” he said.
While taking his sabbatical, Leslie’s financial adviser suggested investing in the film industry.
Leslie met with London film company Piccadilly to read through scripts.
“When I read Kevin I immediately realised the film would be a hit,” he added. “It turns out it was the wisest investment I’ve ever made.”
Despite little film knowledge, Leslie was greatly involved with the production and plans to work as a film executive alongside his job as a barrister.
“I am already lined up to look at a load of scripts for next year,” he said.
Leslie said the gripping script and lead actress’ performance should take credit for the films success and predicts Swinton will be nominated for best actress at the BAFTAs.
Dr Penny Darbyshire, a Kingston law lecturer, taught Leslie at undergraduate level.
She said: “Leslie’s astonishing success provides an inspiring example to Kingston students who, like him, come from less privileged backgrounds.
As an undergraduate he came to appreciate that achievement was directly proportional to the efforts he made and his background did not need to be a barrier to his success. Leslie is exceptionally hard-working and is a dedicated self-improver – he’s a model to us all.”