HE shared a trailer with Robert Pattinson and was on a drama with Olivia Colman which led to her winning one of her first BAFTA Awards.

Suffice to say that Oli Lee has a tale or two he can share if you sit down with him for a cuppa.

In his youth, he was very much in the TV spotlight thanks to his role as Aiden in Waterloo Road – the son of Robson Green’s character Rob Scotcher – and while he was in Hollyoaks he was in the public eye to such an extent that his 21st birthday celebrations were covered by OK! Magazine.


Nowadays things are a little different for Oli. You can find him running the on-the-go coffee and cake brand, Brewed Boy, at Golden Square – and he is pretty frank about the reason why.

“It’s because it’s a bloody tough industry,” he said.

“No matter how much momentum you think you’ve got you don’t know what’s going to happen.

“I had a daughter and for a short spell I was a single parent so that changes things. And auditions dry up. I’m not too proud to say that.

“You might have a couple of years of landing every job you go for and thinking you’re indestructible and then reality hits and you’re not.”


So after a stint as a waiter, Oli started to think something more permanent and something he could inject his personality into.

He added: “They might not admit it but most actors have a second job. They’ll work in a restaurant or a call centre or have a trade of some description because you’re not auditioning every day.

“I enjoyed serving the customers, having a laugh, the ‘performance’ part of it and the challenge of serving a table and making their night good. When I turned 30 I thought: ‘If this is going to be a part of my professional life I’d like to do something that’s mine’.

“And the idea of a cute little coffee van was something I romanticised in my head. I could serve coffees in the morning and if I got an audition I could close up and bob off for that.

“I’d never completely walk away. I’ve started focusing more on writing and I’ve produced independent short films.

“We were sending them off to big festivals. We played in LA and New York so it was a different angle of the industry.

“I was involved in a feature film – Darren Bender’s Exhibit A – that won best feature at Raindance.

“So it was stuff I was doing for the love of it rather than mainstream stuff.”

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Oli has plenty of memories of performing on TV in front of millions though.

Growing up in Tyldesley, he went from starring in school productions like Bugsy Malone to working with Stephen Graham in Awaydays, Olivia Colman in The Accused and Robert Pattinson in The Bad Mother’s Handbook.

“I’ve skyrocketed their careers. Once they’ve worked with me they tend to go Hollywood,” the 33-year-old joked.

“Olivia Colman won a BAFTA in the show we did together called The Accused. She played my mum in that and was one of the nicest people on set. There was no ego.

“She came over in the make-up room when we first met to show me the trailer for Tyrannosaur, a film she’d done with Paddy Considine.

“The trailer hadn’t been released yet but she’d been sent it by Paddy and was showing everyone.

“She had the sort of excitement you’d see in a new actor and for a seasoned actor to still have that excitement and no bravado was very refreshing.

“She probably doesn’t remember me but deep down I hope she does.”


Oli was also close with Robert Pattinson before the Twilight saga made him world famous.

He added: “I shared a trailer with Rob. We did breakfast and dinner together for weeks and weeks while we were filming The Bad Mother’s Handbook.

“He’d done Harry Potter but he’d not been Edward Cullen yet. That was at a funny point for him as auditions weren’t coming in and he was talking about quitting.

“I often imagine if he did because the next year he became one of the most famous actors in the world. I think of that a lot. Whenever I’m thinking of calling it quits I think of that moment. He’s about to become Batman so it’s about to happen all over again for him. I’ll admit, you can’t help but be a little bit jealous but it keeps you focused stories like that.”

Oli, who made his breakthrough in the stage play Beautiful Thing, also looks back fondly at his three years on Waterloo Road.

He said: “I’m still in touch with a lot of the people I worked with. Some are still in the industry and others are doing new things.

“It was more popular than I realised at the time. It was getting millions and millions of viewers every week in a primetime slot.”

Others will know Oli for portraying gay student Josh in Hollyoaks: In The City.

He added: “I think having these big soap operas in the area does provide a lot of opportunities for emerging actors. We’re lucky to have them on our doorstep. It’s a great springboard because once someone has cast you, trusted you and put you on screen it leads to other things.”

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OLI Lee’s coffee and cake brand, Brewed Boy, is all vegan.

But he sees that more of a way of making his products suitable for everyone rather than specifically targeting people of a certain diet or lifestyle. Oli has been a vegetarian since 2006 and a vegan for about five years although he has ‘fallen off the wagon’ a few times.

He said: “I don’t think you should ever kill yourself over a bit of cheese on a pizza every now and again and things like that. It’s more about the bigger picture I think.

“That’s what I think Brewed Boy is about. We never wanted to be bright green and for it all to be about the ‘big V’ – it was just about being a quirky coffee van that is inclusive of everyone. Vegans don’t have to worry when they walk over if there is going to be an option. They’re just brownies, cookies and cakes that taste great and happen to be for everyone.”

Oli reckons veganism has gained more recognition, support and momentum recently due to a change in the way we see the world – and our impact on it.

He added: “In society we’ve seen strong views on lots of different things recently and that has brought change in people.

“People are recycling better and thinking more about their impact on the environment.

“It’s not just vegans. There is a family who come to us who eat vegan food Monday to Friday and eat meat at the weekend.

“They do it for the health benefits but it’s also about people making slight changes for the better of the planet. Every other advert has been about something vegan in the past month and it’s really cool to see.

“It wasn’t long ago that there would be one token vegetarian choice in a restaurant. Now you’re handed a vegan menu.”


Oli is also pleased to be in Warrington after first launching Brewed Boy in Leigh.

He said: “Golden Square is thriving and full of shops that people want. There seems to be a bit of life here so it was perfect for our next step.

“I also really like what’s going on in Palmyra Square and I’d love to see that grow. I think a coffee shop there would work well. Maybe not a Brewed Boy but something like a Jaunty Goat would probably work there. I’ve been really impressed with Warrington.”