Monday Face/Off: Danny Dyer
Flossie (genuinely enjoyed Malice in Wonderland):
I first became aware of Danny Dyer when I watched Wasp, a short film by Andrea Arnold. In it, Dyer played an everyman, a ‘geezer’, and as I understand it, this is the character he plays in almost every film he’s been in. It also seems that he is a bit of a geezer in real life and I don’t see a problem with that. Classic films like The Football Factory show that Dyer is a great British hard man (did I just say that?). It may be obvious at this point that I haven’t seen the majority of Dyer’s films, but I stand by my point that he does not deserve bashing.
John (boycotts Canning Town in case Dyer’s DNA lingers in the air):
Oh my life, this is just too good. Not only is Danny Dyer a reprehensible human being (more on which later), he’s an absolutely ghastly actor – you’re right to have avoided most of his suppurating oeuvre. Take Dead Man Running, in which he became the only person ever to be outshone on screen by 50 Cent, or Pimp, which nearly gave Mark Kermode an embolism. And the worst thing is that he doesn’t even think he’s a hard man – Dyer pretends to be a misunderstood special snowflake who just wants to play underdogs and heroes. Shame he’s so spectacularly good (and method) at playing a talentless, boorish twat.
OK, OK – most of his films are only worthy of a Tesco DVD, but darling Dyer has actually got a lot going for him, and gets a lot of stick from our classist film industry. He’s a bit of a Marmite-man. As he said at the Run For Your Wife premiere “I divide people. People either really love me, and think I’m great, or they just hate my guts. Don’t know why, it’s kind of weird.” Run For Your Wife, if you were wondering, has been named a Carry On-style British comedy by Screen International, proving that English slapstick it is alive and well. The film also features cameo appearances from Dame Judi Dench, June Whitfield and Rolf Harris. If they agreed to be in the film with him, he can’t be all that terrible, right?
You say that, but Judi Dench was in The Chronicles of Riddick and Rolf Harris is hotly tipped to be the next 1970s celebrity paedophile. And Cliff Richard isn’t ‘in the film’ per se, he was just sleeping rough on the street where Danny was filming – things have gone a bit wrong for him. The Run For Your Wife trailer conclusively demonstrates that stepping on a rake is still not funny (keep trying, slapstick – you’ll get there eventually), as well as serving as a handy headstone for the careers of Neil Morrissey, Christopher Biggins and the identikit blondes who foolishly agreed to play Dyer’s two wives. And it doesn’t even look like the worst thing he’s done lately – do you remember Deviation? Neither do we, because the most interesting thing about it was that Dyer’s character made “a really nasty shank” out of a toothbrush.
You’ve almost got to feel sorry for the guy, he gets a lot of stick. He’s constantly typecast. At the beginning of his career he was picked out by Harold Pinter and performed in two of his plays. Now he just gets stuck with artful dodger types. Even if Dyer isn’t the best actor out there, he is at least an entertaining personality. He loves jellied eels, he believes in UFOs, and he also believes in ghosts after seeing a dead monk jump over a 10ft fence as a child – a traumatic experience I’m sure. In his private life he’s a pretty down-to-earth guy with a wife he’s stood by since he was 14 and two children. He’s also friends with Ray Winstone. He wears his heart on his sleeve, like a Ron-Seal human: does what it says on the tin.
Unfortunately for him, what’s written on the standard serving tin of Danny Dyer is ‘violent, sexist thug’. Devoid of talent and desperate for the limelight (even if all that means is the hollow neon glow of the straight-to-DVD racks in Lidl), Dyer has carved a career out of glorifying the sort of bastards who belong in Guy Ritchie films where nobody’s likely to see them except, well, Guy Ritchie. Remember that column Dyer used to have in Nuts or Zoo or whatever it’s called? Remember when his advice to a lovelorn reader was to ensure his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t shack up with anyone else… by disfiguring her?
One wonders whether all the wide boys and serial killers constitute acting at all, or whether Dyer’s just living out his fantasies onscreen before he finally takes the step to real life. He’s got the perfect cover – his real name isn’t even Danny, so we’d never suspect him. Who would connect lovable cockney ‘Danny Dyer’ with obvious murderer ‘Malcolm Smith’?
All of this is true, but if you think about it, Dyer is only threatening people who deserve it. Item 1: a cheating girlfriend – she brought it on herself! In reality, he would never hurt a fly. Sure he’s a bit of a rough diamond, but that’s just because he’s brave enough to be un-PC sometimes. He’s just straight talking. A real LAD, in other words. British film wouldn’t be representative without a few Danny Dyer types.
Blimey, Flossie – Clarence Darrow would be proud. “Cut women if they deserve it” has never really been in the BFF credo (she didn’t cheat, anyway, she just left ‘Alex from Manchester’ because he was an awful Zoo-reading yobbo), but obviously things are very different in Glasgow. Is that why you’re so fond of polo-necks – did an ex-boyfriend take the Dyer advice to heart when you decided to move to London? And if British cinema should really represent the statistical percentage of domestic abuse present in our tattered society, I’ll look forward to a surfeit of Romanian films with clumsily added footage of Gypsy kids in cages and every Irish film released from now til Doomsday having a priests-fucking-kids sequence. Cinema is at its best when it offers an escape from the everyday, and even the grittiest of urban noirs don’t need Dyer’s cackling Cockney chops bringing down the tone. He’s just too far from actual humanity to be believable – casting Danny Dyer alongside real people is like casting Falkor the Luck-Dragon in Lincoln, or an Orc in Notting Hill.
Ha! Firstly, I would never cheat on a boyfriend, therefore would never be cut. But that is beside the point. I would argue that cinema is not the best when it escapes the everyday, I believe it should reflect the everyday, much like in the film Everyday by Michael Winterbottom. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be an average to have Dyer in every film ever, I’m just suggesting he be present in a handful of British films, which he is. Much like Ray Winstone. Brit-grit or ‘ghetto sink’ is all part of British film history, which Dyer is a part of (whether you think he has the acting talent to be or not). What makes you think he’s too far from actual humanity? He’s not a wife beater! He just made one nasty comment in Nuts! Hold it against him forever if you must…
Right, your insistence on being even-handed and not resorting to ad hominem attacks is getting tiresome (although I won’t be expressing my displeasure by cutting your face, because I’m not an awful bastard like Danny Dyer). Answer me this: would you want him to appear in your debut feature? Come to your birthday party? Marry your sister? Malcolm ‘Danny Dyer’ Smith is a dreadful actor, a horrible person and an unacceptably frequent user of ridiculous rhyming slang – and this is what he said on the last anniversary of 9/11.
What a tosser. I’m done.
You’re right, he is a tosser.
What do you make of Danny Dyer? Let us know below!