Danny Dyer intrigues me. Here’s a guy who has almost zero respect amongst the mainstream filmmaking fraternity, yet his films always make money. Not in cinemas, but on the shelves of Tesco and Asda. One filmmaking friend told me that putting Danny in a film guarantees 60,000 DVD sales. Minimum. And if you’ve ever actually sat down to watch him play a part, he’s actually pretty good. The films he’s in might not be, but Danny? He can act. Which is why when an email popped into my inbox asking whether I’d like to interview him for his new British movie Deviation (out now) in which he plays a serial killer, I couldn’t resist. And you know what? While I’m no fan of his documentaries about criminals and wouldn’t necessarily choose to watch a lot of the projects he chooses to star in, twenty minutes later I wanted to ask him if he wanted to go to the pub so I could pitch him a script. Anyway, you can make your own mind up. NB: The answers must be read in a Cockney accent.
The blurb for this film says it’s a career-defining role. What does that mean?
The last couple of movies I’ve done I’ve been a bit lazy, I can’t lie. I’ve signed up to projects I don’t really believe in, just thinking about the money side of things. Because I’ve got two daughters and mortgage, you start to lose a little bit of passion. I think I’ve disappointed a few people…I need to get back to basics and show people I am a serious actor and I love what I do. I think this is shit or bust with me, I really need this job to work. It’s a very low-budget movie, but it’s about me going really left-field and trying to do something that people will go, “wow, I didn’t know he was capable of that.”
People have such strong opinions about you. Even though they probably haven’t watched most of your stuff.
I do divide people and people either really get me and respect me and love what I do, or despise me. That comes with the territory I suppose. I’ve read some shit about me on the Internet that’s nasty. Somebody said, “you’re trending on Twitter” and I had a look and people were going, “is he dead? Please tell me he’s dead.” I thinking, fucking hell, that’s a bit strong. But I take it on the chin like a man.
Do you know why they hate you?
I think some of the documentaries I’ve made, the hooligan stuff…I did that purely because of money. It got me a house. But there’s obviously consequences to that. People think I stand for something I’m not. I swear a lot and do get it wrong a lot and people find that repulsive. I’m not very well media-trained. I’m still working on that.
London is shot quite scarily in Deviation. Have you ever been frightened living and growing up there?
I was brought up in a dark, ghetto-y type place, so I was used to that. Living on a council estate. Never really knowing what’s going to happen, always kicking off, constant helicopters above your head at three in the morning, the sirens. The riots fucking freaked me out last year. I was filming actually in South Malden and I just missed the riots. I remember going home and watching it on the TV and thinking fucking hell, this is like a movie. All this bollocks about the Mayan calendar, I was thinking, fuck maybe it’s going to come true, the prophecy.
Was it there but for the grace of God..?
Probably. I can’t lie. What they did was disgusting, but when you’re running with a crowd and you’ve got fuck all to do with your life…they just got wrapped up in this idea of a lawless Britain. Why would you risk everything over a pair of trainers? I don’t think I would have gone that far with it. I’ve got too much respect for my parents to let them down. I probably would have gone so far, then fucked off home.
We’ve also been reading about this film where you were supposed to play yourself and was written especially for you, but you turned it down. What’s all that about?
I heard about this. It was called Danny Dyer Saves The World. I got the script sent to me and I read it and thought, “is this real? Is this someone taking the piss?” Then I didn’t hear anything about it ever again. Then I read I’d turned it down. I think it was the bloke who wrote it who were making these comments. I was like, “hold on a second.” It’s a mystery. I was totally flattered and honoured. I would definitely have thought about it if it was tongue-in-cheek.
You’re happy to take the mickey out of your public image then?
Of course. I think it’s important to do that. It’s part of the game. I don’t take myself seriously at all. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Deviation is out on DVD now.