We spoke to the British film and TV actor Danny Dyer about his career so far and his upcoming movie Deviation, as well as his views on technology and his experiences with Apple devices. Danny is a huge fan of the iPad and the PlayStation games console, but expressed his concerns about the potential effects of young people having instant access to a world of information.
It's great to speak to you. Could you start by telling us a bit about the new film?
DD: The movie's called Deviation, and it's a two-hander. I play a serial killer, just escaped from prison. I was in prison for killing women, so I'm looking for my next victim. My next victim is played by Anna Walton. I car-jack her, and the whole film is me driving her to her death, basically.
DD: So it could almost be like a play, you know, it's two people in a car: one the predator, one the victim. And she's completely trapped, can't go anywhere, and she's got to play this cat-and-mouse game with me. It's really powerful stuff, you know, really intense: something I'm really proud of. I've been waiting for a script like this a long time. Two actors, nowhere to hide, no gimmicks, just going toe to toe. It was just a beautiful, beautiful experience.
You said it's a bit like a play...
DD: It could totally be a play, because it's just set in a car, really.
It's like it's playing out in real time, while you're watching.
DD: It's playing out in real time. Completely. I kidnap her in the afternoon – I kidnap her in the middle of London, as well... So it's like we pull up at a set of lights, and there's people walking across the zebra crossing, and they're basically a metre away from her, and there's nothing she can do. She's trapped, and there's nothing she can do about it. She wants to open the window and scream 'Help', but she's sitting next to this complete lunatic, says he's going to cut her throat at any minute.
It's this weird situation she finds herself in, and this is how she has to deal with me. In a way I've picked the wrong victim, because she's a nurse, kind of a psychologist as well, so she gets into my head, and really makes it difficult for me to execute her.
Is this the meanest role that you've played?
DD: No. But I think it's the most leftfield. I don't do it in an obvious way. I'm very childlike, socially inadequate, I don't really know what I'm doing in that role – for me, the whole film is like I'm taking her on a date, because my head is so f***ed up and warped. There's a little moment where I stop off at a petrol garage and I ask her if she wants any sweets... 'Please have some sweets. Let me get you a sandwich.'
For me it was a chance to show a different side to what I can do. I'd got a little bit lazy in some of the films I've made lately, and this will really show people that I've got a lot more about me.
Do you worry about that, about being typecast as a sort of London geezer in all your roles?
DD: Not really. I worry about longevity, and I worry about not getting the opportunities to really show people that I am a f***ing good actor. I take it very, very seriously. I think you become a celebrity and a brand, and people see you as a certain thing. I know that I've got some really loyal fans out there, but I also know that I divide people in a way, you either really get me and you're loyal to me, or you can't stand me, you know.
Is that right?
DD: I suppose that's the nature of the beast, in a way. It's always just been about acting for me. That's what people know I am - I'm an actor. But obviously because of where I come from, and I swear a little bit, walk with a bit of a swagger – some people don't get that.
How does the real Danny Dyer compare to this guy we see on screen?
DD: This guy [in Deviation], when you see it, he's a complete raving lunatic, jumping in and out of all sorts of characters. Whereas me, I'm just a father, I live in a house full of girls - I got my two daughters. I'm a sensitive soul, I have to be... I'm well trained as well, don't worry about that.
DD: Listen man, my life completely revolves around being a dad, that's a 24-hour job.
So you've mellowed out a bit?
DD: For sure. I'm 35 in a few months. You have to mellow out a little bit. I've been acting for 20-odd years, so I'm almost a veteran now.
Who's been your favourite actor to work with? I know you've worked with some huge names.
DD: Mark Rylance. He's a real Shakespearean actor. He was a real education for me. And Helen Mirren as well – I know it's an obvious choice, but she is just beauty personified. Everything about her is perfect. She is an amazing actress.
What would be your dream acting role, if you could have any part, in any film, any play, anything?
DD: I think the dream for any actor would be James Bond.
That would be amazing.
DD: But I would like to do a television series where I play a detective, or something like that – a long-running series. Something like Luther, or something written for me like that would be perfect. Five months of the year, you do quality drama, then the rest of the year, go off on holiday.
If you hadn't made it as an actor, what do you think you'd be doing?
DD: I'll be honest with you mate, I'd probably be banged up. I can't do anything else really. I probably would have gone down the wrong route. I was useless at school, didn't learn anything about any trade, I was just very lucky that I found my talent at a young age.
Honestly, I don't know. Maybe I would have gone and worked with my dad, gone into his trade – painter and decorator. Something like that. Other than that, f*** knows. I'm so lucky. I feel blessed every day I'm working.
I know you did a bit of work on some video games - the Grand Theft Auto series. What was that like? How does that compare to being in a film?
DD: It was great, man. I've always been a PlayStation nut, and Grand Theft Auto – I was a massive fan of those games anyway. Rockstar Games have produced a couple of my films too. They wrote this part with me in mind. They rang me up and said listen, we want to fly you out to New York, first class, spend a couple of days with us, all you've got to do is put your voice down, it'll take a couple of hours. It was like a dream job – it was heaven.
And I love those boys, they're all English boys out there, they're cracking right on, and no one makes a computer game like Rockstar. They are the ultimate. It was a joy. And then to play the game, with my voice – I'm in two of their games, and it was beautiful.
Would you let your kids play those games? What do you reckon about the influence they have? They're quite violent games.
DD: I don't know if they do have an influence, though, I don't think they do. I think they're a form of entertainment, and escapism. I don't believe that if you're in a computer game, and you're running around shooting things, you're going to go outside and do that. I think if you've got that in you, then you're going to do that anyway. I don't think anything sparks it off. If you're a nasty f***er, you're a nasty f***er. You've got it since birth.
Some of the content... young kids shouldn't play Grand Theft Auto because of the prostitution, some of the dialogue in it. But listen, we're living in a world now where these kids have access to so much, with their mobile phones, and the internet, they're growing up far too quickly. I know that – I've got a 15-year-old daughter. They're like young adults. They want to be adults because of the information they're being fed.
So you think iPhones are dangerous for kids?
DD: This is just the way the world's gone. Look how far we've come in the last 10 years, look at how far we've come in the last 40 years, technology-wise. It's ridiculous. I don't see where we can go from here.
They're got instant access to anything they want on their mobile phones. Anything. That's pretty scary, to be honest with you. They've lived their whole lives in this virtual world, constantly BBM-ing each other. My daughter's been through a whole relationship with never meeting someone. Her coming face to face with people don't really happen any more.
What about you, Danny – do you use the internet?
DD: Not really. I don't do Twitter. I've got someone pretending to be me on Twitter...
I've seen that.
DD: I've got about four Facebook pages – I wouldn't even know how to access them. I totally don't get involved in all that at all.
Listen - my technological thing is the PlayStation. I love that. I was brought up with video games, I was brought up in the 1980s. So that's my thing. But the idea of being on Twitter and Facebook? F*** that, man. I could not be b*****ed to that.
So you don't think much of the celebrities who are on there all the time, talking to their fans?
DD: Each to their own. But why I'd want to go and tweet and tell people I'd just had a s*** half an hour ago – that don't appeal to me mate.
Has internet piracy affected you - do you have any thoughts on that?
DD: It's a shame, really, because it's tough trying to get people up the cinema at the moment. It's near enough impossible. The only way you can guarantee that is if you make a 3D film. Because the only way you can get the 3D experience is to go to the cinema.
I make low-budget British movies, and getting people to the cinema is a nightmare. Because of piracy, people downloading films. We're living in a world of HDTV, people just can't be bothered. Which is why with Deviation, we're getting a small theatrical release and then they want to get it out on DVD as soon as possible, because that's where the money is at the moment unfortunately.
Of course there's nothing quite like watching movies at the cinema, but can people afford it? If you want to take you and your missus out, for a good night out with your food and a couple of beers and stuff, it's at least £100 to watch a film. It's steep for people, especially in this current climate.
Do you have a mobile phone?
DD: I was one of the first people to have a mobile out of my area, because I started acting. I had an agent in 1993, so I think I had a mobile round about 94, 95? Big f***ing thing. I was one of the first people in my school to have one. It was quite freaky. To look back on that now... it was really expensive, too.
You've got to have a mobile. I've got an iPhone, I've got an iPad too – I got all that bought for my birthday. I play games on it more than anything else. I check my email now and again – I never reply to any of the emails, I just read the f***ing things. I'd rather make a phone call, you know.
But the iPad for me is a great device. I love the iPad. Because when I work away, or I've got a long train journey or something like that, I can listen to music, or if I've downloaded a film or a television series – you cannot beat it for that. Especially for the kids. I've got a little toddler, and if I've got a couple of hours on the train, or a car journey, I've downloaded something - she likes all these quirky things - she can sit there and watch all that stuff.
What are your favourite apps on there?
DD: I did love that Angry Birds. And I've got an old app for horror and sci-fi films. [Editor's note: we think Danny's talking about this one, but we've emailed to confirm.] It's great for my daughter. She's not even five yet, but she loves the iPad. Most of the apps are all her stupid games. I need to take control of things!
It sometimes brings a tear to my eye to see her on the iPad and how good she is with it, it's a really great learning thing for her - like I said, we're living in a cyber-world, it's the future, and the quicker she gets used to computers and the idea of them, the better. Whether I agree with it or not. It's like my daughter, the 15-year-old, she could get a job now as a secretary, with how fast she is at typing. It's unbelievable. That's just because she was brought up with it.
It's so different isn't it, the way the two generations deal with technology.
DD: In schools now, they don't really write any more, they've all got laptops in front of them. Pen and paper – that's going to be gone soon, believe me.
I know I'm talking like I'm 60 years of age, but I see my generation, and I see the difference. When you get to your thirties, you can look at the new generation coming through and go 'F***! That's so different to what I had.'
It's been great to talk to you. Thanks for your thoughts.