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
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
The party's over: Paul Higgins and Stella Gonet in 'Hope' at the Royal Court

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special

Broadcaster unveils Christmas schedule

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital