Written by: gary ogden
We here at Popbitch are massive fans of Danny Dyer. I’ve liked him ever since the beginning (I LIKED HIM BEFORE HE WAS MAINSTREAM BLEAAARRGH) and I will happily watch any film he’s in at the drop of a hat. I genuinely like him in an un-ironic way – what sort of twat likes things ironically anyway? Yeah he’s had a bit of stick over the years and he’s also the first one to admit he gets typecast, but if you actually look at his performances (we can ignore Danny Dyer: I Believe in UFOs if you like) they’re pretty damn good. Why else would Harold Pinter have picked him for two of his plays?
Films like The Football Factory, The Business (my personal favourite), and Severance showcase a skill and presence that many actors would kill for. What I’m trying to say is, stop having a go otherwise I’ll nut you or something you mug.
He’s got a new film coming out called Deviation, in which he plays a serial killer (quite well actually – bit worrying), and to promote it, I was invited along to have a chat with the man himself. The first thing he said to me was “You look like a sexy Will Young” (correct), I thanked him and commenced masquerading as a serious journalist when all I really wanted to do was ask him silly questions like this:
I did ask him a few serious questions though. Here’s our interview:
Sexy Will Young: I don’t know how I’ve come to this conclusion, but I’m assuming you’re a big film fan?
Danny Dyer: Yeah, well I think everyone’s a film fan aren’t they?
SWY: Yep, fair enough, stupid question. Well here’s another one to start with; what’s your favourite film?
DD: It’s a tricky one that. I get different things from different movies. Although one that really touches me, makes me laugh and makes me cry is Nil by Mouth. I actually auditioned for it when I was really young – I met Gary Oldman and everything but in the end I was too young for it and it didn’t work out. I love it though – purely because of the whole world and the simplicity of it. Kathy Burke is so strong in it. It makes me laugh hard at some of the dialogue, and then there are other parts that really choke me up and it takes me back a little bit to my childhood.
I also love the obvious ones, like Training Day – that’s a strong, strong film. I like a movie called 12 Angry Men too, it’s got an old-school feel to it, it’s about twelve men in a jury, all sitting around a table and they all think this one man is guilty, but he changes their minds by the end of the film. It’s really clever, but yeah I think I’ll go for Nil by Mouth as my favourite.
SWY: Is there a film that everyone loves but you hate?
DD: Atonement. Actually, no, no, Slumdog Millionaire, I could not get my head around it – it did so well, was so hyped up and I had really high hopes for it. Then I started watching it and thought, this is not a bit of me…
SWY: What about a film you love but everyone else hates? Mine’s Transformers by the way.
SWY: Yeah, I love it but a lot of people hated it [weirdos].
DD: I’ve seen the first one, but I was brought up with the cartoons and it was nothing like that. You know, I don’t know – it’s a tricky question, I’ll have to think about that.
SWY: Okey dokey, if you had to choose a film to watch with mates and a couple of beers, what would you go for?
DD: Goodfellas – a proper lads film, I sort of grew up with it, you can’t go wrong with Goodfellas. A great soundtrack – it’s just a fucking strong film.
SWY: Which film would you watch with the Missus?
DD: Well the Missus isn’t really a big film fan, so probably something like Shaun of the Dead – something simple, funny.
SWY: What about the best film to watch the morning after – how’d you get through a hangover?
DD: Something like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy – you can just lie there for about twelve hours and don’t fucking move, just eat and shut the curtains and just have a day of it (laughs).
SWY: Good plan. Ok, to your films now – what’s your favourite film that you’ve made?
DD: I’m proud of most of ‘em to be fair, I do feel blessed with the amount of work I have done. It is a toss up for me between The Business and Severance because I’m a big horror fan, and getting that horror/comedy genre right – I think we really nailed it. It’s just a good part because I got all the funny lines in it, plus I got to be an action hero at the end. It was such a joy and I love Chris Smith the director, man he is just fucking great, a really talented guy. The Business again was such a great part – I look so fit and healthy in that (laughs). Yeah I could never quite make up my mind about the two.
SWY: Seeing as you like horror, what film would you watch on Halloween?
DD: I’d probably go for Salem’s Lot with David Soul – it was a powerful film and it was like a two-parter. Yeah, that or The Thing.
SWY: Good choices. So have there been any films that you’ve auditioned for but you just missed out on, and were a bit pissed off you didn’t get the part when they came out?
DD: Well I auditioned for American History X – I got quite close to that. I mean, I totally understand that Edward Furlong was amazing in it, and he is American so they went down that route with it. I auditioned for Primal Fear as well and ironically that was weird, because Edward Norton got that part! I auditioned for Robin in Batman and Robin with Joel Schumacher [that would have been AMAZING]. It’s strange really because for every one part you get, you lose out on twenty – rejection, you get used to that pretty early, but you still want to know why, you want to know details. Why? Why don’t they want me? You’re in competition with so many actors, you can’t just be in competition with yourself – you’ve just got to accept it and move on. I was given many rejections to start with and I’m sure there have been many actors that I have beat to the jobs that feel the same way.
SWY: On the opposite end of the scale, has there been anything you missed out on, that when you saw it you thought ‘Bloody hell, glad I didn’t get that one, it’s rubbish?’
DD: Well I just missed out on this BBC thing, Inside Men, I auditioned for it last year and was really confused as to why they didn’t put me in it. It isn’t as good as what the script was though, I don’t think. I watched the first episode and I was quietly pleased in a way (laughs), it had changed so much to what the script was. Good luck to the geezer that got it though, I think his name’s Warren Brown. He got the part, but listen, he could never have done it as well as me! Good luck to kid.
SWY: Do you have a favourite line of dialogue you’ve had to say?
DD: Erm, not one that I’ve said, but one that was said to me, which was by Geoff Bell in The Business – “Has anyone ordered a cunt? Cos one’s just arrived.” That’s a fucking great line man.
SWY: Is there anything you’ve been asked to say but you’ve said no to?
DD: Na, na, listen I’m up for anything. I suppose I don’t like being restricted which is why I’ve stayed away from TV, but there’s nothing much I would refuse to say or do really.
SWY: I’ve interviewed Tamer Hassan before [name drop this, name drop that], and it’s obvious that you enjoy working with him. Who else do you relly enjoy working with?
DD: Me and Tamer, we’re good mates and I’ve known him for a long time but we’ve both realised that we can’t keep working together. He’s gone to LA and stuff and he’s cracking on over there so, you know…It was nice having that little clique with Nick Love and others because we did have quite a matey thing going on – we were all similar people from similar backgrounds, which is quite rare. We had quite a good run of that – I think that’s stopped now. Nick wants to go off in a new direction – obviously he’s just made The Sweeney and stuff. I know he’s put people like Damien Lewis and Plan B in it.
I can’t lie I was obviously a bit disappointed not to be in it because it would have been great to work with Ray and be part of that, but I feel all good things have to come to an end. Like the Carry On films – 25 films with the same actors, swapping them round in different roles, you can’t do that anymore. They were good days though – The Football Factory, The Business, Outlaw, they were great; like I said, the same sort of actors like myself who haven’t trained, who are from council estates but have got something about them. It is just fucking banter all day long. Good days – Frank Harper, little Rooland Manookian, another great kid. All that little mob.
SWY: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you’d like to?
DD: I would like to work with Adam Deacon, I think he’s an interesting actor. I was so chuffed he won that BAFTA – it’s such a poncey affair the BAFTAs and I suppose everything was against him, but he is a talented kid. I like the fact that he could have gone down a completely different route but he didn’t, he stuck to his guns, he believes in himself, he’s really humble and stuff. Yeah I would like to do something with him one day.
SWY: What’s coming up next then?
DD: After Deviation I’ve got Run for your Wife which was a play in the West End in ’70s/’80s, written by a geezer called Ray Cooney. It’s a farce so it’s a really old-school comedy which is something I want to be doing as well – I want to go down this comedy route a little bit. It’s got all these old-school actors in it, it’s got Dame Judi Dench, Donald Sinden, Andrew Sachs, Cliff Richards is even in it, playing a busker! Basically, I’ve got two wives, I’m going out with Sarah Harding and Denise van Outen – I’m a bigamist. I’ve been married to both of them for about six years and then I have an accident, go to hospital, I’m confused and I give out two addresses. I realise what I’ve done and so for the whole film I’m running around in London bull-shitting and telling lies to stop these two women meeting and some of the scrapes I get up to…it’s brilliant. They don’t make movies like that anymore. It really is a complete farce the whole thing, so I’m quite excited about that.
SWY: I’m reading your autobiography at the moment [I only read autobiographies and books about films - I'm not a square], and there’s a lot about your work with Harold Pinter. I didn’t know about any of this – are you still interested in the West End and doing theatre work?
DD: I’ve always got my eye on it you know – I like to do a play every couple of years. I mean for me with Pinter it was better than going to any drama school – I never went to drama school so I didn’t know who he was when I met him, which is probably one of the reasons why I got the part. It wasn’t until I got to work with him that I realised how powerful and talented and influential this man is – I was devastated when he died but I feel really blessed to have worked with him.
The only thing I struggle with is the length of time you do it for – six months, the same thing, eight shows a week. Two on a Wednesday, two on a Saturday, you only get Sunday off – your days are a bit fucked. It’s great being out there, it’s a buzz with the live audience, especially if it’s a comedy and they are laughing and that, but it takes its toll and having two kids as well, you don’t really see your family because you’re working of a night. You have to leave to get to the theatre for 6 o’clock every evening so you’re not sitting down to dinner, you’re not bathing the kids, not putting them to bed, and when you get home they’re asleep. It’s weird hours you know. I mean I’m always looking for a play that’s good, strong, in a good theatre that would be for no longer than six weeks but nothing has really come up yet.
It gives you a kick up the arse though because you get a bit lazy just making films and stuff, so it’s just a good way of going back and going ‘Right, fucking hell man – intense concentration!” Yeah, so I’m always on the look out yeah – never say never…
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