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24 September 2014
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Hotel Babylon: Tony (Dexter Fletcher)

Hotel Babylon

Dexter Fletcher plays Tony Casemore,

Dexter Fletcher isn't one to sit around twiddling his thumbs in between shows and this year has been no exception. He has managed to pack in performances alongside Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust and Keith Allen and Jonas Armstrong in Robin Hood, which is no mean feat given he only had five months off in between filming series two and three of Babylon.


"My film Stardust has come out so my glorious moment of working with De Niro has finally made it to the screen and Mr Vaughan (Matthew, his long-time friend and director) is going on to bigger and better things all the time," he explains.


"I also had fun out in Budapest as well with the Robin Hood gang playing Count Fredrick, a German Count with a very dodgy accent charging about in the forest in tights with Jonas Armstrong, Lucy Griffiths and Keith Allen."


Dexter began his television career very early on by going to a drama club in Islington two nights a week. He got some small extras parts in films and TV at the age of seven before going on to do Steptoe And Son, playing Diana Dors's son. He then landed a part in the cult transatlantic movie Bugsy Malone.


"I played Babyface over 30 years ago in Bugsy Malone when I was nine years old, alongside Scott Baio and a very young Jodie Foster. I then went on to work on numerous films before joining the RSC full time at Stratford at the age of 16."


Despite being best known in the UK for his role as Spike in the children's drama Press Gang, Dexter has worked with some of the world's greatest writers, directors and actors including Alan Rickman, Mel Gibson, Stephen Poliakoff, Hayley Mills, Derek Jarman, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Jeff Goldblum, Kate Winslet, and Christopher Eccleston – and the list doesn't stop there!


After a break from screen acting to concentrate on theatre again in his 20s, Fletcher returned to film in his early 30s when he landed a part in the cult movie of the Nineties – Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.


The HBO/BBC hit drama Band Of Brothers followed along with Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy. His last two films, Tristan And Isolde with Mark Strong, and Doom With The Rock, were both released last year, but there is still much more that Dexter would like to do, like zombie movies in Canada!


"I'm about to star in a zombie movie being filmed in Canada as the lead. And weirdly it's written by the father of a friend of mine that I haven't seen for a long time – seven years to be exact and he called me up out of the blue to say that his dad has got this script and the money to do it and wants me to play the lead," he laughs.


"It's a kind of interesting role as I start off as a mild-mannered school teacher when suddenly there is the epidemic which sweeps the country and people begin to die. From there come a few survivors and my mild-mannered school teacher turns into a zombie killer.


"And because my character does actually survive the entire movie I'm hoping that it's successful and silly and fun and scary and that they go on to make three more of them which would do no harm."


In order to play the role of Tony Casemore, the ever-efficient concierge of Hotel Babylon, Dexter initially spent some time with a real–life concierge whose identity he is reluctant to reveal.


"I can't really tell you who he is because I don't want to compromise him – he was very good to me and gave me a real insight into the job and into the more unsavoury side of the job which I hope I've managed to convey. He also lent me his Golden Keys which I wear on set on my lapels.


"What I loved about Tony was that he is fixer, a mover and a shaker and has his finger on the pulse of the hotel," says Dexter. "Tony is the character in Babylon who manages to get a handle on situations and get things back on track...the man who people turn to in a crisis...and that is a role I hadn't played before and ultimately is what appealed to me about the part," he adds.


"But primarily the scripts were really good and the great thing about the hotel is that it throws up all these different situations, so as an actor I get to play out various scenarios like throwing people out of the hotel and dealing with prostitutes. Tony is somewhere in the middle ground between the office and the guests," explains Dexter.


Essentially Tony is a family man but in series three of Hotel Babylon his role as father figure and husband is challenged when he meets an attractive young hotel guest whose proposition is hard to turn down.


"Yes he is a good family man," he explains, "and he always tries to make the right decision but the writers are challenging Tony's values this series but I'm glad to say he still remains steadfast and loyal.


"He sacrifices a lot in order to create a comfortable family life at home for his wife and kids and there is always that unintentional clash because he does work so hard he never gets to see his family. When his daughter Liz turns up at the hotel for an audition a lot of home truths hit him and he is forced to reassess his position both as a father and within the hotel.


"But I think he learns a lesson in that particular episode about how you can't take people for granted in the family, even though you have to do the right thing, which hopefully he ends up doing and she kind of forgives him in the end."


With a list of guest artists queueing up to be in Hotel Babylon, Dexter was the only actor to have direct scenes with Paula Abdul in episode one.


"Last year Ray (Coulthard who plays James) had some lovely scenes with Jerry Hall and one in particular where she kisses him which I managed to photograph on my mobile phone...this year Paula Abdul insisted that I would be the only one she would speak to, and yes, Ray did beg to have a scene with Paula but she said 'no I will only speak to Fletcher as he is the most handsome best-looking actor on set'," he jokes.


"Actually she was dreamy – she came with her little entourage which was all very glamorous and exciting but she was very up on her scene and knew her lines and it was a real thrill to work with her. We love it when people like her want to come on our little show."


The show keeps going from strength to strength and the list of guest artists keeps getting longer and longer, which Dexter believes is in part due to the terrific writing that attracts the talent, and the good time they have when they come to the set.


"Well aside from me being enormously good-looking and attractive to be around – I think the guest artists all know they are going to have a good time.


"When you watch the show you can see that everyone is having a blast and from what I'm told that really comes across, and it's fun to do something that you wouldn't normally get to – Jon Culshaw, Alan Davies and John Barrowman are all playing roles that they don't normally play.


"And the drama is is just as good as the comedy elements so actors know they will get a crack at one or the other of those.


"I think the real success of the show is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's glamorous, it's sexy, lots of people watch it, enjoy it and it is the ultimate guilty pleasure."







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