For most living in the UK, Danny Dyer is a household name. He’s emblematic of the rough and gruff London lad that’s up there with the ‘Toff’ as one of the most prevalent British stereotypes. He’s so well-known as an archetype that it’s sometimes easy to forget that he rose to fame with starring roles in films that were commercially abysmal.
His Brit comedy, The Business (2005), logged a £600,000 loss, his horror, Doghouse (2009) lost around £3.8m and, if anyone had forgotten, his 2012 theatrical adaptation ‘Run for Your Wife’ made a Dyer-bolical £747 in its opening weekend. His most successful film, Severance (2006), made a few £100,000s profit, while Human Traffic (1999) just about broke even. Despite so much failure, he’s packed in over 70 Film and TV credits in 24 years – averaging nearly 3 a year – showing a clear sign that producers still believe in him. There seems to be something about the actor that film-makers want to get a slice of, but, with not one commercially or critically successful film to his name, what do his cult fandom see in him?
One male user of Twitter posted that “Danny Dyer is a geeza” and another gushed he “Can’t FU**ING wait until @MrDDyer is in Eastenders #sickactor”. Perhaps in a society that deifies the celebrity, Dyer stands out as earthy and relatable – or as one of the “geeza[s]”. Maybe people are getting over the fantasy of celebs towering other regular, ‘untalented’ folk and are attracted to the idea of a man who not only symbolises the life-blood of Essex and East End culture but also appears to be a reflection of oneself.
As a media personality, there’s no doubt his PR people hold their head in hands on a regular basis. His high-profile casting as the new landlord of the Queen Vic pub in Eastenders was reason for journalists to delve into his unfortunate on-the-record past in which he once said he wouldn’t join the soap until he’s “50 and fat”. This triggered a chain of tabloid smears questioning the BBC’s controversial decision. Domestic violence campaigners slammed the move as “completely the wrong message to viewers” because of some sharp-tongued comments Dyer made three years ago to a ZOO magazine reader looking for girlfriend advice. However, with Eastenders’ lagging ratings, BBC needed a coup, and they made this decision for the controversy. To utilise the man some love to hate, hate to love or simply, just want to be.
His Twitter bio, simply “Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org’, may be a clue of the level of restraint his people try to impose on him whilst keeping the qualities that make him so loved like his tweet to people having a “mad 1” in Brighton (@MrDDyer). He said in a recent interview with Totalfilm that he’s “his own worst enemy”. Whether or not this sentiment was an engineered PR ploy, his puppy-dog charm seems to cancel out his hard-man history. The name Danny Dyer has mystique and his fan-base must be tighter than ever for him to get work in a film like ‘Vendetta’.
He stars as beleaguered special ops officer, Jimmy Vickers, as he tracks down the gang who slaughtered his parents. As Quentin Tarantino said, revenge is the “staple of drama” and Jonathan Sothcott’s production is Dyer’s most promising project yet.
It’s fitting that this down-to-earth star goes to the East End’s Genesis Cinema for the film’s premiere and Q&A. As he ventures back to his roots, his campaign to reinvent his career will not only put a smile on his fans’ faces but also realise the potential of a British treasure.
The premiere for Danny Dyer’s ‘VENDETTA’ (18) will take place this Friday night at the Genesis Cinema, Whitechapel from 19.00.
Tickets for the film, Q&A and after-party are available for £10. Book now on http://www.genesiscinema.co.uk