William Lee says he channeled a 17-year-old version of himself in his leading role in a new film.

The 25-year-old Sydney-based actor plays bushranging gang member John Dunn in the Legend of Ben Hall, which premieres this month.

Born and raised in Gisborne, Dunn returned home to the Macedon Ranges with members of the cast and crew, who lodged at Campaspe Downs while filming on location in Kyneton in 2014.

The Legend of Ben Hall is based on a true story of a New South Wales bushranger who was an icon of Australian folklore and arguably the most prolific bushranger in the country, surpassing even Ned Kelly in terms of criminal activity.

Director Matthew Holmes, with the help of historian Peter Bradley, researched and developed the screenplay.

Lee says he answered the casting call because he felt the role was a perfect fit.

“I’d been acting for a few years and was tagged in a Facebook post where producers were looking for someone with experience riding horses,” Lee said.

“I’d grown up in Gisborne around horses my whole life … I thought, ‘That’s me’.”

He says he drew on his teenage years to connect with his character.

“I was 23 at the time and my character was the new 17-year-old recruit into the gang, so I had to throw back to how I was as a teenager,” Lee said.

“I also came back home to where I grew up, so it really was like going back in time.

“It’s a huge deal for the Macedon Ranges, and it’s also a great story to help kids growing up in the Macedon Ranges – that you can do whatever you set your mind to. For me, that was to become an actor.”

The Legend of Ben Hall premieres on November 12 in Forbes with a pre-release tour during the remainder of the month, including screenings in country Victoria.