Just 18 months ago he was a little known participant in a small town arts festival.

Now he is walking red carpets around the world as one of the stars of blockbuster Sweeney Todd.

Step forward Ed Sanders, the 14-year-old schoolboy following in the foosteps of Golden Compass actress Dakota Blue Richards to become Sussex's latest child star.

Ed, of Forest Row - who claims acting isn't "his thing" - stars alongside Helena Bonham-Carter and Johnny Depp in what is being widely tipped to be the biggest film of the year.

Ed, who attends Ardingly College near Haywards Heath, has already attended the premieres in New York and London and appeared live on the Richard and Judy show.

He said: "Obviously I've had an amazing time and been to some amazing places but it's nice to come back to school. I've got some great friends there and they haven't changed at all so it's been very easy for me to slot straight back in."

Ed, who plays in the school orchestra and sings in the choir, was head-hunted for the role of Toby after appearing with the National Youth Music Theatre at the Tonbridge Arts Festival 18 months ago.

He beat hundreds of other students from stage schools across the land to secure the role of the youngster who works for a rival barber - played by Sacha Baron Cohen - but ends up helping Mrs Lovett - alias Helena Bonham Carter - in her pie shop.

Ed's proud mother Angela, who gave up her job as a teacher to chaperone him around the world, said: "It has been an amazing experience and Ed has been so lucky to meet such great actors and see for himself what goes on behind the scenes of the film industry - as well as attending the premieres both here and in the USA."

Ed told The Argus: "I always wanted to be a musician but did the National Youth Music Theatre and during a production there I was scouted.

"Then after three months of auditions I found I'd got the part of Toby.

"That was amazing. It was a big shock as I'd only done small productions at school before so acting was never really my thing.

"My first auditions were for the youth theatre, when I was understudy to the main character, and then I found myself working with Hollywood's best in a massive film - and singing a couple of solos too."

Ed said he was welcomed into the acting community was and well looked after by the Hollywood A-listers, though he admitted it was not all plain sailing.

He said: "At the London premiere I got out of the car straight after Johnny Depp and I was pretty scared because the crowd was going totally crazy for him."

Demon Depp of Fleet Street - Johnny tells The Guide about singing Sweeney Todd, The Guide pages 6-7.