Tamer Hassan He's No Mug

Written by Matteo Sedazzari
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Tamar Hassan ZANI Matteo Sedazzari 1

For someone who never had the intention of ever being an actor, Tamer Hassan has certainly achieved a great deal of success. He has worked with the likes of Christian Bale, Bob Hoskins, Orlando Bloom, and Morgan Freeman. His career path all started from a small part in Eastenders in 2001. Tamer was fortunate enough to pass by the failed auditions, and wondering where his next meal was coming from.

So how did it all start? By a chance meeting a few Years ago in a Kent restaurant, when a young agent called Camilla Storey approached Tamer and asked him if he had ever thought about becoming an actor. His reply, which will haunt him for a very long time, was “acting is for mugs”, yet she persuaded him to take a screen test and since his first meeting with Camilla he’s never looked back.

After appearing in the films ‘The Calcium Kid’ and ‘Spivs’, Tamer started to gain critical acclaim after his performance as Millwall Jake in ‘The Football Factory’, a film that is a strong insight into the counter culture of football hooliganism. Does it glorify their way of life? No, it merely portrays the violence, anger and sadness that allures their obsessive desires. Now seems he destined to become a major film star, so let’s hear the man tell us all.

ZANI – You got into acting at a very late age, early 30’s I understand. What were you doing before that?

Tamer Hassan – I had a nightclub called ‘Dorringtons’ in Greenwich right near The Dome and a restaurant called ‘Blue Eye’ in Beckenham High Street, Kent.  I own a football club, Greenwich Borough.  I used to play for them, and then I took over as the chairman, started paying their wages and got them into the FA cup. That was 10 years ago and I sold the nightclub and restaurant when I got into acting.        

ZANI – Did you leave school with no qualifications and learn how to make money from life’s experiences?

Tamer Hassan – No, I went to Grammar School. I passed all my exams. I was staying on in 6th Form, and there was this bully…a teacher. He hit my little brother over the head with a cone, cut his head up. He was a nasty piece of work.

ZANI – Who, your brother?

Tamer Hassan – No, the teacher you mug. My little brother is nothing like me, he’s quiet and he is a computer buff, so I hit the teacher with a metal ruler.  I was expelled; I went on to college and got an electronics diploma. Then I became a Painter and Decorator with my cousin’s firm for 5 to 6 years and after that I became an owner of a nightclub.

ZANI – Good times at the nightclub?

Tamer Hassan – Yes, good times.

ZANI – I understand you showed a great flair for boxing at an early age?

Tamer Hassan – I stated boxing when I was young. I was a little bit of a terror at school and I was very rebellious.

ZANI – But unfortunately you were hit by injury that prevented you from developing this career. That must have been a bitter pill to swallow, how did you handle it?

Tamer Hassan – I had problems with my eye since I was 5. I had been knocked over by a car, which caused my eye to detach from the retina. I lost the sight in it for a little while. Also, my hand was always in need of treatment and operations. Of course, it did hurt when they said I couldn’t box any more.

ZANI – Thanks to Amir Khan’s success in the Olympics has inspired the youngster to get into boxing.

Tamer Hassan – Amir has bought it to another level; they are so thrilling those fighters at lightweight. Prince Nassem brought boxing to the forefront and before that it was Barry Maguigan. They were exciting fighters, the speed that they fought and they brought a lot of glamour to boxing. Amir, good-looking boy, he’s got plenty of style and plenty of flair.

ZANI – I presume you’re still involved in boxing by owning Eltham Boxing Club?

Tamer Hassan – I don’t actually own Eltham Boxing club, Steve Barrett owns it.  They were homeless, so I gave them a home above my football club. They are moving out soon because they’ve outgrown the gym. I wish them well. I do anything I can for them; in fact, whilst I was shooting the film ‘The Calcium Kid’ I took all the gear from the set, probably about 10 grand’s worth of boxing gear.  

ZANI – Who are the boxers, as a youth and today, which you admire?

Tamer Hassan – Ali, not only is he the greatest boxer but also the greatest human being alive. Not only did he inspire boxing but also Rap music. I used to like Michael Watson, the boxer that Chris Eubank damaged. The style of boxing he had was brilliant. There is no one who could touch him or Ali.

ZANI – What do you regard as the best ever boxing fight?

Tamer Hassan – The Rumble in the Jungle.

Rumble in The Jungle

ZANI - The Calcium Kid, a film about boxing, was it painful to do or did it bring back good memories?

Tamer Hassan – No, I felt quite lucky that I had embarked on a co-starring role with someone like Orlando Bloom, after his success with ‘Lord of The Rings’ and    ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’ I had never done a film prior to this. I had done bit parts on TV programmes like Eastenders, The Bill and Casualty. Then I landed this part with ‘Working Title’ Films. I played Pete Wright, a psychotic boxer. To me this was a no brainer as I’ve got a bit of psychosis about me and I love boxing.  

ZANI – In a short period of time, you’ve got some nice roles under your belt. My favourite is Millwall Jake in ‘The Football Factory’. Was that a hard role to play or were you drawing from your own experiences of going to football?

Tamer Hassan – Without incriminating myself?

ZANI - Of course

Tamer Hassan – I was born in New Cross: The Old Kent Road, I used to live one street away from the Old Den. So I’ve always been Millwall and I know all the Bushwhackers. You could say that I used to run with the pack, but I never used to get heavily involved. The Bushwhackers used to frequent ‘Dorringtons’. I helped Nick Love, the director Of ‘The Football Factory’, with authenticating the film from behind the scenes. I’ve been hit with a truncheon; with football it’s just another fight in the playground.

If you see something going on, you go over and have a look. I was always watching what the Bushwhackers were doing, in the pub I would be listening to what they were saying. I’ve been around it since I was very young, obviously not in the last 10 to 15 years. I’d always be sitting in the terraces; the fighting side of it was never my stamp.

ZANI – So you were caught up with it around the 80’s?

Tamer Hassan – Yeah, it was the 80’s. When it was rife. What we were trying to put across in The Football Factory is how it is now. Years ago, when you were watching the game on TV, the camera would go on the crowd and you’d see it kicking off. The Government has now put laws down that the TV companies can’t televise crowd trouble, can’t talk about it, nor glamorise it, and The Government are giving out big sentences now. When there was trouble with Millwall at Luton, I was there; some of my mates got involved and got 8 to 9 years inside.

ZANI – You were there?

Tamer Hassan – Yeah, but I am here now. They’ve gone for it and I’ve said, “Well go on then.” I was just there watching, went to the toilet and then walked out. Half of them got nicked afterwards because of the cameras. You could be in the middle of a melee and if you stand there with your hands in your pockets the police can’t touch you. But if you start throwing punches and chanting, then you’re nicked. I am not stupid, I would be a mug if I went away for 9 years and earned no money.

ZANI – It was the last specific film about football hooliganism since Gary Oldman in ‘The Firm’, do think the football factory glorifies violence or that it was a story that needed to be told?

Tamer Hassan – Me, Nick Love and Dan Dyer (Lead Role in the Football Factory) went up and down the country and did a Q and A; we did Glasgow, Brixton, Manchester, and Newcastle. The bottom line is everyone is looking at it as if we are glorifying it, what we are doing is to understand the people involved in it because it is a culture. My whole thing is ‘don’t look at the film as a glorification look at it as a deterrent’ if you can. If you have any ideas or thoughts that you want to be like one of those fellows, then look and see what I do to Danny Dyer’s character at the end. That will happen to you.

tamer hassan

ZANI – I understand that you are working on Nick Love next project ‘The Business’ set in the Costa Del crime in the 80’s tell us more about the plot?

Tamer Hassan – Danny and I have the leads in the film. Danny narrates the film and my character is called Charlie, AKA ‘The Playboy’. We play South London bank robbers on the run in Sunny Spain and there is man-hunt out for them by the British Police.

It’s already been called ‘Goodfellas in the Sun’. Basically it’s a film about descent and greed. It’s a moral tale about the rise and fall of The Playboy. I go from having absolutely everything, to having nothing, and that’s all I’m going to give you. Watch it, it’s an amazing film. Nick is genius, he wrote ‘The Business’ in 4 days in New York.

ZANI – 4 days that is no mean feat. Do you have a gut a feeling that it will be successful?

Tamer Hassan – It’s already been sold worldwide on a 10-minute trailer

ZANI - In ‘The Business’ you appear again with Dan Dyer from the football factory, there must be some chemistry between you, Nick Love and Dan, do you see yourselves as some sort of UK Rat pack?

Tamer Hassan – Yes We Are The Brit Pack

ZANI – It always been whispered that the British film industry is on the rise, do you think that this really is the case?   

Tamer Hassan – Massively, I would go throughout my whole career doing British films.

ZANI- Yet you have done some films in Hollywood recently, do you fancy living and working in Los Angles?

Tamer Hassan – I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to go to Hollywood. But I love British films; I love British actors, and the passion behind the films.  

ZANI – I know people who make independently funded films and they’r biggest problem is financial backing. Do you think people like yourself and Nick Love are making funding more accessible are there still a major setback for any up and coming filmmakers?

Tamer Hassan – I am looking into a setting up a film fund but I can’t go into too much detail, as I am not ready to go public about it yet. I do believe British Films are on the up.

ZANI – Do you see yourself as the local boy made good and joining the likes of great British actors such as Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Garry Oldman, Ray Winston, Phil Daniels and Albert Finney?  

Tamer Hassan – Yes I do. We’ve had a working class boy from Brixton who went on to become the Prime Minster.

bob-hoskins Tamar Hassan

ZANI –What films and actors did you like prior to your move into acting?

Tamer Hassan – I love Dustin Hoffman But to me it’s always been De-Niro, Pacino and Pesci. Why? Because I love the genre of films and when you can find a character in a film that pillages, loots, kills, rapes and he is an absolute wrong-un, yet he’s endearing, then we all love him.

ZANI – Have you consider screen writing or being a Director?

Tamer Hassan – I would love to. I have got some great ideas. I always work closely with the director on dialogue within a film. I am very hands-on with all projects.

ZANI – I am a massive Batman fan, what was the new Batman film starring Christian Bale like to work on?

Tamer Hassan - I was a Batman fan as a kid. I would love to play Batman. I am the right build and I have a good physique. You’ve got to have a good pair of lips to play Batman and I’ve got the perfect lips.  I’ve only got a small part. I play Judges Faden’s bodyguard and I get to kick Christian Bale. Unless you are one of the main front-runners then that’s all it is cameos in Batman. Look round and you see all these great actors doing cameos. Blink and you might miss me. But it’s on my CV.

ZANI – And you’ve been to Gotham City.

Tamer Hassan – I’ve seen the Batmobile, the costume and I’ve got the pass to prove it.

ZANI - I notice from your CV that there is no stage work, would you like to do some Theatre?

Tamer Hassan – Yes, I would love to do theatre. I’ve been offered a theatre part running for a month and I am probably going to take it. The only reason why I couldn’t do theatre before is because I have been so busy.  I have been shooting 3 films back to back. Actors have got a saying that you’ve got to ‘Earn your stripes’ and I am going to ‘Earn my stripes’

ZANI – What’s the play? Tamer Hassan – It’s a musical, and that’s all I am telling you.  ZANI - Would you like to one day perhaps get a consortium and own your beloved Millwall?

Tamer Hassan – I would love to own Millwall, that would be my boyhood dream come true. You don’t have to have a lot of money to buy a football club these days. There was talk of Millwall going for 3 million pounds. Look if I start getting 20 million pounds a film then I am going to look into it.  My son is training to be a footballer at the Millwall academy, which is a bit hard on him.

ZANI – Why’s that?

Tamer Hassan – He’s an Arsenal supporter  

ZANI – I bet you were disappointed in FA cup final when you lost to Manchester Utd and after that Millwall had a bad run in Europe?

Tamer Hassan – A bad run we didn’t even have a run out in Europe. The FA final was a gutter. Jeff Banks, the fashion designer, made these grey suits for the Millwall players to parade for the FA cup final. He gave one of the suits to me and for a passionate Millwall supporter like me; I was in wonderland.

ZANI – Nice Suit?

Tamer Hassan – Beautiful

Jeff Banks Tamar Hassan

ZANI – I understand that Jeff Banks gave you your first pair of designer jeans in September 2003 as a part of his new collection. Prior to this date you state that you had only worn hand–made trousers. What fashion look were you into in as a youth?

Tamer Hassan – I never used to wear jeans, yet since September 2003 Jeff Banks has given me 13 pairs of jeans. I wear them a lot now as you can imagine. When I had the nightclub I used to wear tailor–made suits, nice shirts and designer shoes. I’ve got a bad shoe fetish. I’ve got about 130 pair of shoes now because as I kid I couldn’t afford them. I always judge a man by his shoes. I’ve always been obsessed with clothes. I like to look smart.

The style I was into when I was younger was the causal dresser look with labels such as Pringle, Lois Cords, Burberry and Lacoste. A couple of my friends were Mods at the time, but I couldn’t get into to it, the scooters and the parkas.

ZANI – Being of Turkish origin, have you ever considered appearing in a film specifically for the Turkish audience?

Tamer Hassan – Yes. A lot people say I look like Antonia Banderos, the Spanish actor, but I can’t see the resemblance myself. Antonia Banderos was going to play Artituk, one of Turkey’s great leaders who made the country a republic. But Artituk had a bit of a seedy past and the Turks were adamant in not letting anyone make a film about him or his past.  Antonia Banderos was sent a lot of death threats warning him not to make the film. I have had a few offers to make films in Turkey, which I am still considering.

ZANI – Who do you support in football, England or Turkey?

Tamer Hassan – Years ago I used to support Turkey. I love the underdog. I support England if they are playing any other country but it is a bit of difficult one for me if England are playing Turkey. Do you know that Turkey have never beaten England and I would love to see them do it; they have never even scored a goal against England and I loved it at the World Cup 2002 when England went out and Turkey came third; I wound up a few of my friends.

ZANI – That’s the banter of Football.

Tamer Hassan – You know it.

ZANI – From the boxing club, and the football, you seem very much a man that wants to put something back into the community. Do you feel that is important for successful people not to forget their roots and use their achievements to motivate others?

Tamer Hassan – Too Right.  The kids at the football club say ‘when you go to Hollywood you’re going to leave us’. I say listen the more I get the more you’re going to get.

ZANI – What music do like?

Tamer Hassan - A wide range of music. All the music of the 80’s, things like Rare Groove, right up to Evervesence, Maroon 5, and U2. Music is a great passion of mine.

Tamar Hassan Matteo Sedazzari ZANI

ZANI – Your infamous quote “acting is for mugs”, sorry to remind you of it but do you still think that now?

Tamer Hassan –There are a lot of mugs in the game I tell you that much. When I had the nightclub and the restaurant I used to get a lot of model agencies in there, saying to me that you should be a model, but I was a man’s man, being with the chaps so it never really appealed to me. And the actors that I knew were always skint because I was lending them money.

ZANI – Something must have made you change your mind?  

Tamer Hassan – Camilla. After I said ‘acting is for mugs’ in the restaurant, Camilla said to my friend that I was an ‘arrogant wannabe gangster – horrible so and so’ but that there was something about me. She managed to get me to go to her office, and then Camilla put me through a gruelling screen test. I had never seen a script before I meet her and 3 weeks later I was on Eastenders.

ZANI – That’s pretty good progress after 3 weeks?

Tamer Hassan – Yeah, luckily I didn’t have too much to say on Eastenders. Then after my first appearance on TV, the bug bit me. It’s not for mugs, it’s a passion now, I love it and there is nothing else I want to do. If it is for mugs then I have got to be one of the biggest mugs about.

Tamer Hassan is no mug, I can you assure of that.  He is a man with an overwhelming presence laced with self-belief and determination; 6 foot 3”, well built and with impeccable taste in his clothes. His move into acting just shows that one moment in your life can change everything forever, your outlook, livelihood and welfare will be never be the same again.

And it certainly was the case, with one night at the ‘Blue Eye’ in Beckenham High Street Kent, when Camilla Storey approached Tamer with a prospect. He seized the opportunity with both hands, he turned his back on his former world, to become an artiste and the gamble has paid off. Yet no matter how successful he becomes, I don’t think he will ever forget Greenwich Borough Football Club or his friends at Eltham Boxing Club.  

The South East community, which he was born and raised, is an essential part of his psychological makeup. It gives Tamer his drive, passion and ambition.  His generosity acts as a reminder of his days as a poor youth and the discrimination that he may have endured. He wants to give the youth of his neighbourhood the chances that he never had and hopefully help them avoid any pitfalls life has to offer. It is easy to forget your past and it takes strength to give back.

And one boyhood fantasy that Tamer wants to live out, is to own Millwall Football Club. I’ve got a hunch that we might just see that dream come true, then he really will be one of the last of the international playboys.

©Matteo Sedazzari/ZANI

Read 23992 times Last modified on Sunday, 28 March 2021 14:16
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Matteo Sedazzari

Matteo Sedazzari

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