Danny Dyer: I have a massive crush on Judi Dench

The English actor and media personality describes meeting a ghost, his new crush, and why he hates his "hard man" image

"I saw a UFO once," Danny Dyer says with his distinctive cockney inflection. "Either you believe that stuff or you don't. And I believe."

We are on the phone discussing I Believe in UFOs: Danny Dyer, a documentary, which saw the Human Traffic star searching for UFOs across the UK and US.

"I did it for two reasons. One, to prove I am not necessarily that violent character I often play, and two,  I genuinely believe in the supernatural and paranormal."

In his autobiography, Danny Dyer: Straight Up, Dyer mentions an encounter with a ghost. "Yes, I have seen a monk once. I was with a mate and I panicked a bit because of what we were doing. It wasn't robbing or anything, just a little bit of graffiti on some train tracks. Me and my friend ran straight home. I couldn't sleep at all that night. We didn't talk about it for days afterwards but we knew it was a ghost because it either jumped up over a 10 foot fence or it vanished into thin air. We later found out there was a monastery there."

Dyer doesn't want to be forever typecast as an east end gangster, even though it was this image that helped forge his film career, and he's keen to talk up the other, less hardened, aspects of his character, like his interest in the paranormal and his environmental credentials. He's currently on the judging panel for "Myth Busting – what happens to your drinks can when it's recycled?" a competition for young film-makers.

"It's all about recycling. I recycle and and I think it's really important, but what really interested me was the young film-makers. The British film industry isn't in the best place to be at the moment. A lot of British films go straight to DVD these days."

This perceived drop in British standards of film-making may have more to do with Dyer's fall from grace in May 2010, after his now notorious column for Zoo magazine in which he advised a reader to "cut your ex's face, and then no one will want her," rather than problems for the industry as a whole.

"It's been a strange couple of years for me. Some of the scripts sent to me are just shit really - sorry - I mean rubbish, get the recycling pun? I've got about 80 dustbins for recycling all those rubbish scripts."

After a rough couple of years, things are looking up. Dyer is about to star in the new  Ray Cooney film, Run for your Wife, alongside Denise van Outen, as a bigamist who's about to be found out. A "best of British cast", make cameo appearances, including Judi Dench, who Dyer admits to having a massive crush on. "Massive, massive. For many reasons. She is so graceful and beautiful." Next year, he is due to play Alfie in the West End. If you were looking to rehabilitate your image from psycho gangster to cheeky chappie, these roles would be ideal.

"I hate this hard man reputation. I am not trying to change the world." Dyer exclaims, defensively, referring to his ill-judged Zoo advice. "I am just trying to earn a living. But I have been in pieces over what people think and what the media write. If its about me, I can take it on the chin. I've realised that people either think I'm a legend or they hate me, I accept that. It's when they write about my Mrs or my kids. Then it does hurt."

Dyer started out in TV, with substantial roles in Cadfael, Prime Suspect and A Touch of Frost under his belt by the time he was 16. According to his biography, after the success of Human Traffic "Fame opened doors to the best clubs, the best booze and even better drugs...as the drinks flowed, the work dried up." But despite falling out of favour on occasion, Dyer says he still loves acting. "If I didn't have a family at 35 and I was unemployed and was just living with my mum maybe I'd just play video games all day with my Star Wars T-shirt on... but when you have kids to feed and a wife who needs to be drenched in Gucci handbags, you've got to pick acting." Dyer has an infectious chuckle and a clear passion for acting, especially theatre. It's easy to see why the industry wants to give him second, and third chances.

"Theatre is a whole different knowledge [compared to film], its a way of proving yourself as an actor. I was in a Harold Pinter play once and I just forgot my lines ... I just wanted to disappear... but when its going well and its flowing, the confidence and the adrenaline. Then you love taking that final bow and you feel really proud of yourself. You can't beat that feeling."

"Myth Busting – what happens to your drinks can when it's recycled", is a nationwide search for the best video dispelling the myths around recycling.  Danny Dyer will lead a host of celebrities and experts from the film making, environment and sustainability industries to judge the competition. The competition is sponsored by the British Film Institute and the Can Makers, the trade body for drinks can manufactures.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam