In the last six years, 28 year old Danny Dyer has established himself as a rising star in English cinema. From the spaced out Moff in Human Traffic, to battle-hardened football hooligan Tommy Johnson in The Football Factory, he has made his mark on twentysomething audiences, portraying characters they can instantly recognise and perhaps identify with. Other films include Goodbye Charlie Bright, High Heels & Low Lifes and Mean Machine.
Reuniting with Charlie Bright and Football Factory director Nick Love for The Business, he plays Frankie an impressionable Londoner sent on an errand to Spain in the 80s, a time of great opportunity for criminal gangs operating on the Costal del Sol. Slowly but surely he rises through the ranks having the time of his life, but at a cost he comes to realise only too late.
AG: Now you've done three films with Nick Love there must be a real company feel to his set, isn't there?
DD: "We've got our own little clique of people, our little firm. That's the genius of Nick. I like to look at it like a Carry On vibe, he has a certain group of actors and he swaps the roles around. The great thing for me is that he's kept me as his leading man, he likes me to tell his story, you know. It just rolls off my tongue - he always says it's his brain and my mouth, and it's a great partnership. I look at him as my partner in crime, there's no two ways about that. He's the greatest director I've worked with."
AG: Are the two of you alike?
DD: "Yes and no. He's a Millwall fan and I'm West Ham, and you can't get more opposite than that. But we love each other dearly, and I love having talent [like his] around me. He's a very talented man. He trusts me, and I trust him with my life."
AG: So we can expect to see some familiar faces in The Business then, can we?
DD: "Yeah, we've Tamer Hassan who was brilliant in The Football Factory. Roland Manookian's in it as well. Our new addition is Geoff Bell, who's brilliant. I worked with him on Mean Machine, and he's a great actor, very powerful in this. Nick likes to keep the same crew around him, he's got the same first AD, he likes to keep working with people he knows."
AG: Did you take on board references from any other films before starting on this?
DD: "I watched The Godfather. The film is set over nine years and my character is on the run, so he goes to Spain. I'm given a biscuit tin and told not to look at it, I'm just told to give it to a character called the Playboy in Puerto Banus so I just fly out there not knowing anything. A young kid. I wanted to be a little bit like Al Pacino when he first starts coming into his 'family business', he's the outsider. With this performance it's all about the eyes. The hardest thing for an actor is to be in a whole scene without speaking, but still getting your emotions across. That was a real test for me."
AG: Is your character instantly accepted by the crooks he meets on the Costa del Sol?
DD: "Tamer's character loves me and kind of takes me under his wing, but his partner - Geoff's character - hates me. The role sees me start off as a kid, seeing all this money, and by the end of it I'm well in with them. I'm the brain of it, I've come to the fore and they all turn on me. It's a bit like Good Fellas in that respect. I introduce all the characters and gel it all together. So for me this film is in two parts. I filmed it and had to act the role without saying much, and then it started again for me with the voiceover six months later. I had to get back into it, but with Nick it rolls off the tongue, we had two goes at it and he'd move on."
AG: You even were at pains to make Frankie quite different from Tommy in Football Factory, weren't you?
DD: "It was important for me to not come across like Tommy Johnson especially with the voiceover, because I have got quite a distinct voice. I didn't want to sound like him in any way. So my voiceover breaks up in the beginning, and it sort of changes towards the end. I get greedy, because it's all set in the 80s and stuff, when cocaine started coming into England. It was the gangsters out in Spain who started it. They were earning loads of money and just getting greedy with it, and then it all falls down. That's when then the voiceover changes again to 'what the **** am I doing now, I'm stuck in this rut, I've got to get out of it'."
AG: Working in such an idyllic environment in Spain was it ever hard to knuckle down and concentrate on the job in hand?
DD: "Not when you've got Nick as your director. He is a friend but when it comes to work he makes it very clear what he wants. He doesn't like messing about, which is why it always runs so smoothly. He's one of the only directors you'll get an early day from. Most directors have a time when they'll shoot and they will shoot for all of it. But if he's happy he'll wrap early. There's no ******* about on his set."
AG: The style of the film is very 80s, with the fashion and the music and the conspicuous consumption of your gangster characters. You were three years old when the 80s began, so what was your feeling about that?
DD: "It's very pacy, it doesn't dwell on anything for too long because it's set over nine years. We're running about with our Sergio Tacchini shorts on. It's all 80s clothes and 80s music, yuppies and the cocaine and call girls. There's a nice little joke: 'how do you think Thatcher stayed up on four hours sleep a night?'. There she is on the television and I'm sniffing a big line of gear off her poster. It's interesting this is now a period piece."
AG: It sounds like the film gave you the chance to live it large?
DD: "It was great, riding about in a Porsche, and running about with machine guns. It's every boy's dream to be honest. This is a really sexy film, I think it's going to put British gangster films back on the map. This goes at a level that people have not seen before. It's a great idea from Nick, and it really works."
AG: What did the local residents where you were filming in Spain make of you all?
DD: "Where we were staying was very native Spanish, nobody spoke English, so they really didn't take that much notice of us. That was a shock. We were filming up in the mountains and were quite out of the way most of the time, because of the period setting we had to be careful where we shot. Every location had to be dressed. We found a great little port which was identical to Puerto Banus before it got all poncey. It was untouched. And we just got on with the job. We got a bit obsessed with it, me Tamer and Geoff. Every night we'd go back to the hotel and discuss what we'd done and what we were going to do the next day. We were constantly talking about the film for two months. It was great, but you have to get that way."
AG: Is it hard to return to normal life afterwards?
DD: "It is hard to come back to reality. I was so in 'Frankie-mode', but it had finished so I had to get back into my life. It takes me a couple of weeks to come down off of it. But I couldn't do the job as well as I wanted if I didn't go through that."
AG: So despite the intensity of a job like this you've all remained good friends, have you?
DD: "We're even closer, which is a rare thing in this game. You work with a lot of different people and you very rarely connect with that amount of people, so to work with them twice is great. I hope it carries on forever to be honest. I hope Nick keeps me in the lead role every time, but I'd be happy to do two lines of dialogue in his film if he wants to swap it around again. It's just great to work with him."