60 second interview
Dexter Fletcher is known for his performances on both the small and big screens. He appeared in Press Gang, opposite his then sweetheart Julia Sawalha, Band Of Brothers and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Many forget that he was also a famous child actor and his first role was as Babyface in Bugsy Malone, which has just been released on DVD.
Jason Flemyng says no one would touch the Lock, Stock cast for months after. Would you agree?
To a certain extent. A lot of people were worried about the comparisons. I don't think we suffered too badly at the end of the day - eventually people stop thinking about it and the kudos that goes with being in such a great hit fades into a good credit on your CV.
Why do you think Guy Ritchie's Swept Away went straight to video?
Every actor and every director can be deemed as producing something that is thought not to be as great as the last thing they did. Guy invented his own language for cinema, which is no mean feat. That's why he was head and shoulders above the others for a while. Lock, Stock was his first film and he had a lot to learn - I'm sure he'd be the first to admit that he was still learning while we did it and that he'd say similar about Snatch and Swept Away. You'll definitely see great things from him again in the future. He's a great film-maker and that will shine through.
You've got to admit, Bugsy Malone is a tad weird.
In what way?
Kids dressing as adults, it's a bit S Club Juniors
I guess so. But at least there is some kind of context. It wasn't a vision geared towards simply generating a load of revenue. I may be a bit cynical but, with bands like S Club Juniors, it seems as though someone has identified a new demographic, the tweenies, and thought: 'How do we get them to spend their pocket money?' Bugsy was simply: 'How can we make a movie for kids that adults can watch?'
How much trouble would we be in if Saddam Hussein had a splat gun?
Well, we'd certainly get a creaming. Perhaps if both sides had splat guns we'd be in a bit better state. Maybe we could get him and George Bush to do a sing-song at the end.
Could you tell that Jodie Foster [who plays Tallulah] was going to become a star?
I worked on the film for four days, as there are rules about how much work a kid can do in a year. I think it's 40 days a year and I'd already done 36. I went to get my hair cut in what was an extreme bowl cut - remember, we all had long hair then - and she came into the salon. She picked my hair off the floor and said: 'You know what they do with this, they make it into moustaches,' and stuck some on her face. Yes, you could tell she was going to be a star. She'd already done Taxi Driver so it was pretty obvious she was in a different league.
Where does it fit in your list of career highlights?
Right near the top. In terms of getting my career started, it was the pivotal moment - especially as a child. All the work I did as a kid stemmed from it - and the notoriety I had among my peers. By ten everyone at school knew who I was - as do all the people who are the same age as me.
Was the playground reaction positive?
It was considered a cool thing to be in. It certainly didn't make my life difficult. People deal with being a child star in different ways - I ended up becoming the class clown. And by the time I went to secondary school I had two older brothers who went to the same school - which was useful.
Did fame wreck your academic career?
In hindsight I don't suppose I have much of an education. You could say that's not relevant, as I trained to be an actor and I became one. But I don't have an academic background - and it's now up to me to try and catch up. Let's face it - when you're a kid, any excuse to not go to school is a good one, so I was in and out all the time.
What sets the best actors apart?
They don't have an ordinary, everyday life - which is why they probably congregate together. It's less impressive for Tom Hanks [who directed Band Of Brothers] to sit around with Steven Spielberg [who produced it], as they are both great men in their own right. When I'm with Tom, it does seem different, but you get over that. In this industry it doesn't matter who you are today because tomorrow you could be someone different. There was a guy in BoB called Tom Hardy who did one episode. The rest of us had been filming for nine months and we were a bit: 'We'll show you the ropes.' Now Tom Hardy is playing the lead in the new Star Trek movie. You get to realise that being snooty is not the way forward and careers can quickly reverse. People like Tom Hanks have learnt that lesson - if you're working with him, that's the bottom line.
You've been described as having lips like Mick Jagger. Is that flattering?
I've had that for so long that you stop caring. My two older brothers gave me tonnes of stick for it as a kid: 'plunger face', 'stick him on the window'. Some people think Mick is good-looking, others say he's ugly. It's not been a drawback for him and it certainly hasn't for me.
And Leslie Ash has to go and pay for it.
And in more ways than one, the poor thing. They are really ripping into her - it seems to have overshadowed her whole career.
Date: 13th February 2003