How We Met: Jason Flemyng & Dexter Fletcher

'Dex would ring to say, "Let's go out," and I'd be in the middle of a ballet class, making excuses'

Interviews,Rhiannon Harries
Sunday 03 May 2009 00:00

Dexter Fletcher 43 is an television actor whose career began at the age of 10 with a part in Bugsy Malone. He has since appeared in Derek Jarman's Caravaggio, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the BBC series Hotel Babylon. He lives in London with his wife, the opera, theatre and film director Dalia Ibelhauptaité

One of my first memories of Jason is him telling this story on the set of Lock, Stock [just over 10 years ago] about how he did a really good first audition for [the film's director] Guy Ritchie. Guy's very tricky and plays his cards close to his chest, so when he asked Jason to do another audition, Jase told him he wasn't available again, so they had to give him the part based on that first one. I remember thinking he was a canny guy, and he is, but not in a Machiavellian way – he is self-deprecating almost to a fault.

One of the big reasons Lock, Stock worked was the genuine friendship-building that happened on set. It was an interesting time – not just making it, but what happened next. We both went to a friend's wedding and Liam Gallagher was there and he came out with this great, poetic quote about that period, "It was 'Wonderwall', it was Lock, Stock and we were all breathless with it." I think it sums up that era – the late 1990s was new government, Britpop, loads of money coming into the country. It felt exciting.

We got invited to some amazing events, but I do remember this Ozwald Boateng fashion show that we did – Jason, [fellow actors] Nick Moran, Jason Statham and I were all suited up and when we stepped on to the catwalk the roof nearly came off the place. Jason and I had to present an award at a short-film festival straight after and we were driving through town, looking at each other going, "What just happened?"

The thing about Lock, Stock was that it was just a bunch of lads making a film; it wasn't designed to tick any boxes, but it suddenly found this great appeal. That really cemented our friendship – we were all part of something bigger than us.

Afterwards, lots of lovely coincidences kept bringing us together. Jason came to Paris and did a short film that my wife and I made, and we've been in quite a few others together since. Then, three years ago, Jason gave me this big speech about how we had to "take the means of control", so we started our own production company. At the moment, we're working on a small-budget action comedy.

Jason is one of those people who never seems to have a free moment, but when you need him, he always has that moment to give you. He's gives unreservedly, but rarely asks anything in return, so it is a pleasure when he does ask something of you.

Jason Flemyng 42 is an actor famous for his roles in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Layer Cake and Stardust. He lives in south London with his wife, the actor Elly Fairman

I knew very well who Dexter was before I met him, because an ex-girlfriend of mine fancied him, probably from his Press Gang days [in the early 1990s]. All the girls fancy Dex, but it's OK: I'm used to being really good-looking people's ginger friend.

We met in person at the first meeting for Lock, Stock, then almost immediately the money fell through and we didn't see each other for six months. Guy Ritchie kept everyone sweet by organising a few social events, but by then I'd realised everyone else in the film was a proper hard man and I was a softie, so I couldn't go because I was sure they'd suss me out. Dex would ring and say, "We're going out. You should come," and I'd be there in the middle of a ballet class making my excuses.

The next time we met was our first scene together. Dex and I had done a lot of acting before, but the rest were pretty much newcomers, so there was no template for how we did it – everyone just did their own thing. I remember Jason Statham, whose movies now take hundreds of millions, asking me what to do with his hands.

To this day, we're all really good friends. Success is bonding; we used to stand at the back of the cinema in Leicester Square and listen to the place roaring at our jokes. It doesn't get any better than that.

That was the moment when designers decided actors were good clotheshorses. We were all brassic and didn't have a nice bit of clothing between us, but Gucci would phone and ask if we'd wear their suits to the Italian première. At my wedding, Dex came up and said, "Flemyng, please don't tell me that's your suit from Lock, Stock." I'd like to see Dexter get into his suit now.

Dex and I share three great loves in life: drink, poker and food. We have a good friend called Jamie Oliver who we play poker with, so he comes over and teaches us how to cook something, then we go away and have a go. I've cooked for a while but Dex got into it about three years ago and now he's a born-again foodie. He's great at meat and I love doing cakes and pastries.

His wife says our working relationship is like a tortoise and a goose: Dex is the yappy goose, obviously. If we're working on a script, Dex will want to send it to everyone and see what they think straight away, whereas I want to wait until it's perfect before we show it to anyone. I'm always holding the reins and he's gagging at the bit. It's probably the perfect balance. n

Jason Flemyng is currently appearing in 'Primeval', Saturday nights on ITV1, and the film 'Shifty' (15), in cinemas now

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