"We’re both Hertfordshire boys," says Vinnie Jones of himself and Hollywood director Guy Ritchie.

Hatfield-born Guy Ritchie gave football hardman-turned-actor Vinnie Jones his movie debut as Big Chris in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Ritchie cast the Watford-born footballer again in 2000 crime caper Snatch as Bullet Tooth Tony.

More than two decades later, the good mates team up again in The Gentlemen, Ritchie's TV series debut for Netflix. Vinnie's appearance is a coup for the Netflix production.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The cast of Netflix series The Gentlemen.The cast of Netflix series The Gentlemen. (Image: Alex De Mora / Netflix)

“There’s been a hole in my soul in the shape of Vinnie Jones for the last 20 years,” says Ritchie. “I was so happy to have him back.”

Featuring guns, gangsters and drugs, The Gentlemen is released on the streaming site on Thursday, March 7.

Inspired by his own movie of the same name, Ritchie is director, writer and executive producer of The Gentlemen.

The Gentlemen sees Eddie Horniman (Theo James) unexpectedly inherit his father’s sizeable country estate — only to discover it’s part of a cannabis empire.

In true Ritchie style, a host of unsavoury characters from Britain’s criminal underworld want a piece of the operation. Determined to extricate his family from their clutches, Eddie tries to play the gangsters at their own game. However, as he gets sucked into the world of criminality, he begins to find a taste for it.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Vinnie Jones as Geoff Seacombe in new Netflix series The Gentlemen.Vinnie Jones as Geoff Seacombe in new Netflix series The Gentlemen. (Image: Netflix)

A former president of the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society, Vinnie Jones, 59, plays Halstead Manor gamekeeper Geoff Seacombe in the series. Vinnie's dad was also a gamekeeper.

Vinnie said: “Guy and I hadn’t worked together for a long time and then I got a random text from him with just four words, ‘Got something for you’. 

“Apparently, he’d just got out of a meeting with Netflix about The Gentlemen and as soon as the character of Geoff the Gamekeeper came up, Guy said, ‘That’s Vinnie’.”

In a Netflix Q&A, Vinnie said: "Geoff is pretty close to my heart because when I was growing up my dad was a gamekeeper and now I’ve got a farm myself in Sussex and was actually out in the countryside in my outdoor gear when I got Guy’s text.

"Geoff is actually based on someone that Guy and I know. He’s a personal friend of the both of us who happens to work for a Lord of the Manor.

"On the first day of shooting, Guy came up to me and said, ‘You know who this is, don’t you?’ And, yeah, I did."

The Gentlemen also stars Kaya Scodelario, Daniel Ings, Joely Richardson, Ray Winstone, Max Beasley, and Giancarlo Esposito.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Theo James as Eddie Horniman in The Gentlemen.Theo James as Eddie Horniman in The Gentlemen. (Image: Kevin Baker/Netflix)

Vinnie said: "Geoff is the gamekeeper who’s been with the family for years and his loyalty is second to none.

"He’d jump in front of a bullet for any one of them and if they so much as break down in the woods or trip over and bang their heads he'd be the first one to turn up because he’s always watching over them from afar.

"He’s also quite a mysterious character and maybe there’s a bit of a Lady Chatterley and Mellors cliche thing going on between him and Lady Sabrina (played by Joely Richardson). But I don’t want to spoil anything here…"

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Joely Richardson as Lady Sabrina in The Gentlemen.Joely Richardson as Lady Sabrina in The Gentlemen. (Image: Christopher Rafael/Netflix)

On working with Joely Richardson, who plays Halstead family matriarch Lady Sabrina, Vinnie said: "I did a movie with her mum — Vanessa Redgrave, me and Derek Jacobi. And it really makes me laugh to think of it.

"I used to wind her up with that bit of information. In fact, I used to wind her up all the time about a lot of things, including her being a proper serious actress whereas I’m just in it to pay my golf dues.

"Truth is, though, that even if our styles are different we both take it seriously.

"I follow the golden rules that a great director I was working with once gave me; I’m on time, I hit my mark, and I know my dialogue.

"As for Joely, whenever the camera rolls, she’s brilliant, she’s bang on it. On screen she was the toff and I was the untamed, uneducated gamekeeper. And we used to play up those roles off screen too. We had a lot of fun with it and with each other."

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Guy Ritchie on set of The Gentlemen.Guy Ritchie on set of The Gentlemen. (Image: Kevin Baker/Netflix)

On working together, Joely said: "I adore Vinnie! We’re complete opposites because I love the process, I love digging under the text and exploring the stuff, and Vinnie is like ‘come on, let’s do it and get out of here'.

"We’re in different camps because I’m like ‘no, come on let’s rehearse a bit, let’s see what other colours we can get in...’ And to be fair Vinnie has humoured me and you know, opposites can produce a good dynamic and I hope that’s what Vinnie and I have, a good dynamic."

While coming from different backgrounds in Hertfordshire, show creator Guy Ritchie and Vinnie Jones share a love of the countryside and are great friends off screen.

"We’re both Hertfordshire boys, although he lived a little bit further out than me," said the former Wimbledon and Wales footballer.

"The thing about Hertfordshire is that it’s on the edge of two worlds; you’ve got council estates and you’ve got big country mansions and it gives you a kind of alleyway where you can creep along and look over both fences and maybe we’re both interested in and understand each other’s world as a result."

Vinnie added: "I’ve known Guy for 30 years, dating back to when we did Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels together.

"I first met him and Matthew Vaughn to talk about the film at a posh golf club and I ended up paying for the coffee because they didn’t have enough money. Afterwards, he used to stay with me in America and so did Matthew and Jason Statham.

"We were like a band of brothers and we still are now. So going to work on The Gentlemen is like being on set with one of your best mates."

They've come a long way since Lock, Stock. Vinnie said: "We have, and even driving to set (and I still do drive myself) I would think about the fact that if it hadn't been for that cup of coffee thirty years ago, and if it hadn’t been for Lock, Stock, then The Gentlemen wouldn’t be happening. Everything would have been different."

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Theo James, Josh Finan, and Vinnie Jones in The Gentlemen.Theo James, Josh Finan, and Vinnie Jones in The Gentlemen. (Image: Christopher Rafael/Netflix)

The pair also worked together on the movie Snatch, but The Gentlemen is Guy Ritchie’s eagerly awaited eight-part small screen debut. Scenes of the series were filmed in Hertfordshire at Wrotham Park, near Potters Bar.

Vinnie said: "The challenge of a long series is to make the audience go on a journey and learn to love the characters over eight episodes rather than an hour and a half. I think Guy has really pulled that off.

"And The Gentlemen is still as much a Guy Ritchie project as his movies are. In this you get toffs and gangsters, action, and camouflaged laughs behind the drama.

"There are times Guy lays it on a plate for you, but other times, because he’s really clever, he wants you to go on a kind of treasure hunt with him. You spot different things every time you watch one of his movies and, I’m sure, the same thing will apply here."

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Theo James as Eddie Horniman in new Netflix series The Gentlemen.Theo James as Eddie Horniman in new Netflix series The Gentlemen. (Image: Netflix)

Theo James, who plays Eddie Horniman, the Duke of Halstead, was delighted to see Vinnie Jones in the Guy Ritchie project.

"I’d always loved Vinnie in Lock, Stock and in Snatch and working with him was a treat because he has this great magnetism.

"In The Gentlemen he plays the gamekeeper, who’s a very different kind of character. He has all the flourish and potential for violence that we love about Vinnie Jones.

"But there’s a softness there and a real brilliance of comedic timing."

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Kaya Scodelario as Susie Glass in The Gentlemen.Kaya Scodelario as Susie Glass in The Gentlemen. (Image: Christopher Rafael/Netflix)

Co-star Kaya Scodelario plays Susie Glass and got to work alongside both Vinnie Jones and Ray Winstone, who plays her dad Bobby Glass.

She said: "In both cases, because of the parts they’ve played you think they’re going to be these big scary guys but they're just the loveliest, most down-to-earth people.

"Vinnie is an absolute legend. He’s got this inbuilt swagger that lends itself so well to the project but, at the same time, he’s a lovely, cuddly teddy bear of a man and, for me, he delivers some of the most beautiful, emotional moments of the

The Gentlemen is available to stream on Netflix from Thursday, March 7, 2024.