King Loaf Interview: Danny Dyer

British actor Danny Dyer might be commonly known for assuming the ‘badboy’ role in most of his on-screen work, usually adopting the role of an archetypal East End gangster or crook, but in his latest film Deviation (read our review here!), his role as the plot’s antagonist steers him away from predictable expectation and into the subtle and unnerving realms of psychological thrill.

We caught up with the man himself for a chat about his latest venture on the big screen.

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KingLoaf: Hi Danny! How’re you doing today?

Dyer: Hi! I’m a bit rough, I can’t lie to you. I’m fuckin’ flu-ed up man, I’m in bed!

KingLoaf: That sucks! Sorry to hear that man.

Dyer: It’s a fucking nightmare mate. I’ve had nothing to do all week, I’ve been sweet as a nut, then I wake up this morning when I’ve got a whole day of press and I’m fuckin’ sweating and shivering. Sod’s law. But I’m alright man, you’re the last one of the day so that’s okay! [laughs]

KingLoaf: [laughs] Well I hope you get better soon!                    

Dyer: Cheers mate.

KingLoaf: So let’s talk a bit about your latest film Deviation. Can you give our readers a brief description of the film and the role that you play in it?

Dyer: It’s a two-hander, and I play a serial killer who’s been in prison for killing women. I escape from prison and the first thing I wanna do is find my next victim. Within the first five minutes, I find her, carjack her, cable-tie her to the passenger seat. The whole movie really is me and her in a car while I drive her to her death. That’s basically it, and as an actor that really appealed to me – I thought it was really risky and brave for J.K Amalou [director and writer of Deviation], just to rely on dialogue and two people in a motor. It would make a really good play actually.

KingLoaf: It really gives it quite a gritty and very raw edge to the film…

Dyer: Yeah, it’s very intense. The idea of the predator with his victim in a car – in such close proximity, when there’s nothing you can do about it – it’s a great idea. The thing that’s clever about it is that I kind of choose the wrong victim. She’s 6’3”, a nurse and a psychologist. And she’s very clever. She’s not screaming, although obviously she’s petrified, but she starts to learn about my character, and she starts to play the cat-and-mouse game with me. By the end of the film, she’s got all the fuckin’ power!

Dyer at the premiere of Deviation

[pullquote_right]I just want people to go “well that’s a fucking good film”. That’s all I want.[/pullquote_right]

KingLoaf: What was it about the film that made you turn your head and get yourself firmly involved with the project?

Dyer: Well, I’d taken some time off from acting – I wanted to spend some time with my family – and I got a bit lazy with some of the choices that I made. I lost the love acting a little bit. I was just waiting around for a decent script, something that got me excited, and this came through the door. I knew it was going to be low budget, it wasn’t about the money, and I think that some of the decisions I’ve made previously have been about the cheque. And that’s not good. I just wanted to go back to basics really, and the idea of just me and another actor in a car talking for an hour and a half, that really appealed to me. I don’t think it’s really been done before. Like I said, it’s a brave thing for us to have tried. I just wanted to show some of my fans that I’m back, y’know? I’m a serious actor and I love it, and I think Deviation is a really good piece of entertainment.

KingLoaf: Like you say, it’s quite a stripped-back piece of film, so how did that affect the filming process? How different was it to anything you’ve done before?

Dyer: It’s all shot in real-time, so that was pretty tough. It’s set at night as well, so we had some night shoots that were tough man, I’m telling you. That was hard. It affects your home life a little bit, especially when I’m coming home from work after a day’s work when my missus and kids are just getting up, or missing the chance to sit at the dinner table with them. That sort of stuff was difficult. And I play a fuckin’ lunatic! [laughs] So my head’s in a bit of a weird place. I’m completely cuckoo in this film, which is another thing that appealed to me. I loved the idea of being able to be as free, left-field and nutty as I wanted. I’m really quite child-like; I’m not an obvious psychopath. But then I don’t know what an obvious psychopath would be! [laughs] Basically, I’m not what people think a run-of-the-mill psychopath is. And as a character, I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong. I think I’m taking her on a date or something – I fall in love with her in a way, which creates a really interesting dynamic.

KingLoaf: And already, the film is being hailed as your career defining film…

Dyer: Yeah, that’s Revolver that is – they’ve been backing me really well, they’ve got high hopes for me. I’ve made a couple of movies that have come out that just haven’t been very good, I can’t lie. I’ve got a bit lazy. So this is me purely just getting back to acting and relishing every minute being on that set, having the chance to show off a little bit. I love that. I love acting, I’ve always loved it, since I was a kid. So that was what it was about for me. But yeah, career defining – I hope so! I mean, Total Film gave it one star. They’ve ruined me! [laughs] But I don’t think they like me and I don’t think they ever have liked me, I don’t think it deserves one star, I think they’re being a bit fucking strong to be honest with you.

KingLoaf: Do you think that because the film has a bit of a psychological edge to it that it might be taking you in a new direction?

Dyer: I hope so! Absolutely. I want to show people that I can do something a bit different – the thing about acting is that you never know what the future holds and what’s around the corner. The film shows a new side to me, that I don’t do the same sort of thing every time. 

[pullquote_right]We live in an age at the moment where everybody is obsessed with fame and celebrities – whatever the fuck that is[/pullquote_right]

Danny Dyer in Deviation

KingLoaf: Has it been a lengthy process to get to this point?

Dyer: It took about four and a half weeks to shoot it and then all the editing afterwards. That’s the thing about film-making, the editing is so important. You can tell a story in any way you wanna tell it really, you could have potentially a masterpiece in your footage or you could have a pile of shit. It took them a long time to put together. We shot it a year ago in December, back in 2010. It’s taken this long to come out, whereas it usually only takes about a year. We held out, Revolver picked it up, and I’ve really got high hopes for it. It’s not about money. I just want people to go “well that’s a fucking good film”. That’s all I want.

KingLoaf: So would you say it’s been a particularly difficult or challenging journey?

Dyer: Very challenging. Quite difficult at times. But at other times, it was a beautiful experience. I got on really well with Anna, she was good company and I think she’s an amazing actress. We were stuck in that car for five weeks, so it was vital that we got on. We really did bond on that job, she’s a lovely girl.

KingLoaf: Have you learned anything from making Deviation that you’ll take with you and use in the future?

Dyer: You always do every time you do a film, there’s always something that ends up surprising you. I’ve been an actor since I was fourteen, I love being on set with the film crew, I get a buzz from that. I’ve got a job I love and I’m very blessed. I bounce out of bed in the morning and I can’t wait to go to work. Too many people on this planet wake up and dread going to work. You need to go to work to earn money and pay your bills, but I believe you can do whatever you want to do really if you put your mind to it. I’ve learned from people I’ve worked with and I’ve been persistent. You take a lot of rejection as an actor, but you have to get over that pretty quickly and have the belief that you can do it. That’s what I say to any kids out there that come from a working class environment or from a council estate, you know you can do it. That’s what I loved about Adam Deacon winning that BAFTA recently. He’s not had many chances in his life, but he didn’t go down the route that I’m sure a lot of his peers went down.

KingLoaf: If there’s anyone reading this interview that wants to break into the film industry as an actor, what advice would you give them?

Dyer: I think you’ve got to chase down any avenue that you possibly can. Get the stage newspaper and look for any little drama clubs and go to them once a week, just to be around other actors. Just do everything you can possibly do. If you believe in yourself, someone will recognise your talent and hopefully they’ll help you along the way. I think we live in an age at the moment where everybody is obsessed with fame and celebrities – whatever the fuck that is, reality stars being famous for being famous – and that’s the wrong way to think about it. If you go down that route, you’ll never have any longevity. You’ve got to think about the performance and about learning; the rest comes with it. Never give up, if you believe in yourself, never give up. Nobody owes anybody else a fucking career, I’ll tell you that now, but you’ve got enough people against you in the world, the last person you want to be in competition with you is yourself.

KingLoaf: Sound advice! If your step into acting hadn’t been as successful as it’s been, what do you think you’d be doing now?

Dyer: I really don’t know. I’ve got no other trade. Like I said, I started when I was only fourteen, then I had a child when I was nineteen, and then I sort of struggled. I started doing a bit of temping of building sites and things like that – and I’ve got respect for people who do that, because that’s a hard job – which made me a lot more determined. But I honestly don’t know. I think I’m lucky that I found my talent and that I persisted with it. Otherwise… no idea!

[pullquote_right]I’ve had a bit of time off, so I’m really rearing to go again now. I want to get as much quality work in as I can this year.[/pullquote_right]

Dyer with Walton in Deviation

KingLoaf: And alongside Deviation, you’ve also starred in Casualty this year. How did that arrangement come about?

Dyer: They approached me and asked me to do an episode. I thought ‘okay, well they’ve asked me before and I’ve said I’m not interested’, ‘cos I thought if they’re offering me a part, I thought I’d be playing a drug dealer or a gang member or something like that. [laughs] I was really surprised, I was a paramedic! I love the idea of that. I was really honoured and chuffed, and it was a good experience. I was only up there for a week in Cardiff. I think people have been really surprised to see me pop up in that. I’m playing a really sad character though; I’m a bit of an odd, weird paramedic. Basically I’m a fake paramedic, but there’s a reason why I’m doing what I’m doing. It was a really heartfelt part. It was nice to be a part of such a massive show; I was brought up watching Casualty.

KingLoaf: Do you have anything else planned for the rest of the year that we should be getting excited about?

Dyer: Yep! I start shooting by next movie mid-March, which is a sort of mad, arty love story, and I’ve got to speak a bit of French in it too, which is a bit nerve-wracking! Then I’m going on to do my next film with J.K Amalou which is called Deceit, which is a film where I’m being stalked by somebody. It’s totally different to Deviation, it’s a completely different role. And then hopefully I’ll be doing a film with Ray Winston and Helen Mirren in the summer! I’ve had a bit of time off, so I’m really rearing to go again now. I want to get as much quality work in as I can this year. 

KingLoaf: Have you ever learned French before?

Dyer: Nah not really, but the director of the film is French, so he’s really just gonna have to help me out a lot. I’ll get him to say the lines into a dictaphone and I’ll just keep practicing them. It’s not that much, I’m supposed to be half-French, half-English. I’m at a time in my life where I’ve got to start testing myself, I’m 35 this year!

KingLoaf: Good luck with that!

Dyer: Thank you.

KingLoaf: That leads us nicely to the final question; can you tell us something interesting or perhaps weird about yourself that our readers might be surprised to know about you?

Dyer: I like to paint – abstracts and things like that. And I’m also a massive fan of jasmine tea. I love a drop of fuckin’ jasmine tea. I’m sure that’ll freak a few people out. [laughs]

KingLoaf: [laughs] I bet it will! Well cheers for speaking with us Danny!

Dyer: Thank you. Good to talk to you brother! Have a lovely day.

KingLoaf: And you! Hope you get better soon man!

Dyer: Thank you! Bye!

KingLoaf: Bye!

Danny Dyer stars in Deviation, in cinemas on 24th February and available to own on DVD 27th February through Revolver Entertainment.

 

Sam Hardy

Sam Hardy is a writer for KingLoaf and music journalism site AltSounds.