Callum Scott Howells: Netflix film helped me understand homelessness

Welsh actor Callum Scott Howells has said his latest role, inspired by the Homeless World Cup, helped him to understand homelessness.

Scott Howells plays a recovering heroin addict playing for England in Netflix's The Beautiful Game.

He said some of the extras in the film had competed in previous Homeless World Cup tournaments.

"It was one of the greatest privileges of my life so far," said the It's a Sin star.

"We had an amazing experience on the film working with real people who take part in the Homeless World Cup.

"They were our supporting artists in the film who play all the different characters and different players from different countries, which is something really special."

The film stars Bill Nighy as a football coach who takes an England squad to the international tournament in Rome.

Michael Ward, an actor who experienced homelessness himself growing up, portrays a star player who is living in his car after his relationship broke down.

Scott Howells said the film encouraged the audience to think about the personal stories of people who are homeless.

In the film, Vinny - played by Michael Ward - is a former West Ham United academy player who is living out of the boot of his car.

"It's teaching us all different examples and different types of homelessness," said Scott Howells.

What is the Homeless World Cup?

It is an annual event organised by the Homeless World Cup Foundation charity, which operates through a network of more than 70 countries.

Its aim is to use football to inspire homeless people to change their lives and public perceptions of homelessness, along with the issues around it.

In 2019, the competition was brought to Cardiff by the actor and activist Michael Sheen.

Scott Howells said the event almost passed him by at the time.

"It was only when the script for this film came to me and I was like 'oh my gosh, this was the thing that Michael hosted in Cardiff'," he said.

"Then I learned all about this tournament, that it's been going for 20 years... so it's an incredible thing and yeah, I feel so proud that Wales hosted it.

"You know, before the film, I think I had a very sort of basic knowledge of homelessness and I think probably similar to a lot of people... it's hard to understand how kind of nuanced homelessness is and how much of a wide spectrum it is."

Scott Howells is a big football fan in real life too and is a devoted Cardiff City supporter.

"I love, love my club so much. I support Cardiff because it was the first game I ever went to see," he said.

He was also at the Cardiff City Stadium to witness Wales' heartbreak as they lost out on a place at Euro 2024 on Tuesday night against Poland.

"It's hard to swallow... But I'm so proud of the team and can't wait to see what the future holds for us as a nation," he said.

  • Callum Scott Howells is talking to Lucy Owen on BBC Radio Wales at 12:00 GMT on 30 March, and it is available on BBC Sounds