Boardwalk Empire star Stephen Graham considering quitting acting and retraining as a youth worker after he spent eight months unemployed.

The British actor was convinced he had landed his big break with his role in 2006 drama This Is England, but work subsequently dried up and he went nearly a year before landing another job.

Graham admits he considered giving up and finding a new profession, telling the Big Issue magazine, "I learned so much from (director) Shane Meadows on This Is England. He makes you feel like you're a champion, or a kite that could just fly off into the wind - and he guides you from place to place. That film (This Is England) was when it all came together for me as an actor. Though afterwards I couldn't get an acting job for eight months. I was about to pack it in and become a youth worker."

Graham is convinced his hardman persona may have put casting directors off, adding, "Maybe people were scared of me - but I'm a very nice, happily married man with two lovely kids. I like playing dark characters but in real life I'm respectful and polite. Manners cost nothing."