5 things Danny Dyer is really scared of (exclusive interview)
Even TV hardman Danny Dyer has to be afraid of something...
Danny Dyer is the on-screen hardman to end all on-screen hardmen. He epitomised brutal football hooliganism in ‘The Football Factory’. As Mick Carter in ‘Eastenders’, he’s punched a legion of foes from Max Branning to Woody Woodward (played by Lee from Blue). And he called David Cameron a tw*t on live TV.
So it might surprise you to learn that, among other things, what actually scares him is teeny, tiny mice.
We sat down with the actor to chat about ‘Scared of the Dark’, the new TV show he hosts. The show sees a handful of telly favourites move into a totally pitch-blank bunker for five days.
That bunker is built in an aeroplane hanger in deepest, darkest Bedford and filmed with special infrared cameras. For five days, a lineup of celebs including Paul Gascoigne, Chris Eubank, Nicola Adams and Scarlett Moffatt will live, sleep and eat, and bump into all manner of household objects together as they face the most primal fear of all-encompassing light deprivation. All while screaming at every bump in the night (or is it day?).
It’s totally ridiculous and brilliantly bonkers in the way mid-00s “social experiments” were. Both the audience and celebs go on a journey of inward personal reflection that only the uninterrupted dark can bring. And we get to see the totally unfiltered (hey, it’s pitch black) reactions of the housemates to a week of inescapable, quickly tiring Eubank pseudo-mysticisms (“A bit of a tw*t,” as Dyer, a rather non-objective host, tells us, “But he does go on a bit of a journey.”).
In honour of facing fears head on, we spoke to Dyer to discover what really scares the seemingly unshakeable cockney star - from the fictional to the very real…
Warning: as you would expect, there's some bad language from here on in.
1. The Government
“I don't want to go into it too much, but it's pretty f*cking obvious, isn't it? The way this country's being run at the moment, I find it pretty scary. It’s falling apart. The way that people in all these important different careers are on strike. What do young people do now? Where's their inspiration? And f*ck me, god forbid they try and get on the property ladder. Sh*t needs to change. It's f*cking bullsh*t.
“No, I wouldn't go into politics, not in a million years. I'm a father, a grandfather. I love my job. And I do think we need more working class people in politics. There's no two ways about that. I don't know why we haven't got more - if there's not enough avenues - but this elite mob that keeps getting the jobs, it doesn't work anymore, clearly. People that go to Eton don't know what the f*ck they're doing.”
“I've got a bit of an issue with mice. I've killed about 50 mice. I live in a forest and I can't have them in the house. They sh*t and piss everywhere, and there's so many holes in my gaff. I’ve become pest control. I know exactly what they like to eat. I want to kill them in a humane way - which is, you've just got to break their f*cking neck. Don’t use the sticky pads because they eat their feet to try and get off them, which is awful. Also, what do you do with them when they're stuck to the pad? They say you can catch it and let it go two miles away from your house, but I'm too busy. Also, where do you drop the mouse? Where am I gonna take it to? The Isle of Dogs? Hackney? Where’s the right area?
“What I do is give them one last meal: Nutella. They love it and they die happy, with a smile on their face. You can always get them, they're so greedy. You just put a little bit beyond the pad and then the trap does break their neck. I’ve got to - my bulldog, Debbie, is useless at catching them, too. Once actually, there were a couple of mice eating out of her bowl and she just stood there watching. She's pretty pathetic, my Debs.”
3. Salem’s Lot (1979)
“I was brought up in the Eighties, during the video nasty era, with films that were banned, like 'Evil Dead'. There was a film called ‘Salem's Lot,’ and it was a two parter about vampires and it was petrifying. You'd put it in the VHS player, you'd sit back, and it was the most petrifying thing - the whole process.
“Once it was all kicking off, I was too scared to go near the telly, to go up to the buttons on the front of the VHS, to stop it and turn it off. I was fascinated with and absolutely petrified by ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ and ‘American Werewolf in London,’ too. If you watch that segment now, where he turns into a werewolf, it looks f*cking pathetic. But back in the Eighties - when his fingers go all long and he was making these faces - f*cking petrifying.”
4. Stage Fright
“I dried on stage once a long time ago, in a play called ‘Celebration,’ on Broadway, and Harold Pinter was directing. I knew he had the hump with me.
“If you ask any actor, they’ll tell you - when you dry on stage for the first time, and there's thousands of people watching you, and all of a sudden, you haven't got a f*cking clue what to say - the fear and the horror, and this feeling of ‘everyone's watching me’. You’re used to feeling powerful and bulletproof on the stage, and all of a sudden, you feel so vulnerable and scared. Suddenly you think, ‘I'm in the wrong game, I can't do this anymore’. When that happened to me, it never left me.
“Every play I've done since, I sh*t myself every night. It stays with you. I sit in the dressing room and I think, ‘Why the f*ck have I said yes to this?!’ Of course, once you're out there, it’s beautiful, you f*cking feel alive. You've got to face your fear and do it anyway, that's what I've learned. I meditate now - calm your f*cking brain down.”
5. The Dark
“I went into the bunker for this show, and it’s horrible, I hated it. I really found it difficult. Later on in the show, I went in again but they gave me night vision goggles. When you take them off in the dark, it's just awful. Not in a million years would you get me doing that.”
Scared of the Dark airs across FIVE NIGHTS from Sunday 16 – Thursday 20 April at 9pm on Channel 4.
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