Today: April 12, 2024

Tamer Hassan

Tamer Hassan chats about his new film and Hollywood in the offing

Heidi Vella joined cockney-gangster-flick regular, Tamer Hassan, for lunch and a chat about, Bonded by Blood, (DVD released Dec 27) in which he plays Essex’s most monstrous gangster Pat Tate. Still recovering from celebrations at the premiere two days earlier, over scallops and lamb steak, he discusses murder theories, superstitions and sequels to The Business and Dead Man Running. Bonded by Blood was released last Friday.

What do you remember about the murders of Pat Tate, Tony Tucker and Craig Wolfe, in 1996, which Bonded by Blood brings to the big screen?

I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember it was headline news, I remember, clearly, them taking away the Land Rover and the hype around it.

You met Tony and Pat once……

I did, yeah. I met Tony Tucker and Pat Tate at an event a little while back. I just got introduced to them, that was all.

Was it surreal playing Tate, all these years later?

Yeah, it is always weird when you have met some and shaken their hand and then [you] are asked to play their life story. It was quite weird, and I am a little bit superstitious about stuff like that. They bought the original range rover on set which they got murdered in and I wouldn’t go near it. I think at one stage they wanted to shoot that scene in the actual range rover and I was like, ‘No!’.

Why? Did you think it would be a bad omen?

It just isn’t right. It could be a bad omen or something. You know, people do what they do in their lives and when they are gone you never disrespect the dead, it is what it is, they go to a better place. I just think it is a little disrespectful.

Bernard O’Mahoney wrote the book that the film is based on. Was he on set to advise you how to play Tate?

He was on set a few times and thank god for Bernard! Because he was the closest associate to the three boys and I’m sure he was involved in their criminal activities. I don’t know how true the end is, when they get murdered, but up to that point was fact. Thank God he was around because there isn’t much footage of Pat anywhere; because they were villains and villains try and stay away from the public eye as much as they can. I didn’t really want to track down his son or ex-wife because we’re not really celebrating his life. Its adaptation of his criminal activities. Most of all, he was watching the dailies and the rushes every day and I spoke to Terry [Stone] who was producing it and said how does he feel about it? And he said: “I had got it to a tee and that was how the man was and you should be proud.”

Do you have your own theory about how these three men came to die this way?

Yeah, I have my own theories and there are lots of other theories. Some say it was Leah Betts family, some people say it was the police, some people say it was Mickey Steele, some people say it was some other villain – there is so much around it is hard to know.

Is there one theory you believe more than others?

They only truth of it is, is they were murdered in a Range Rover. Who did it? We don’t know. For me it is…because he was so drugged and when Craig Fairgrass played him, he played him as begging for his life and I didn’t do it that way. For me he was so drugged up and so charged up, and he was such an angry man, with so much rage, I did it more aggressively than that; that’s how I imagined it to be. Vincent Regan who plays Mickey Steele, I said to him: “Look I want to change this dialogue and this is how I am going to do it, because I want to leave you with something.” A lot of the dialogue was recreated as we went along and the magic happens on set, because I kind of know that life and that world. When he says I was sleeping with your wife and your kid calls me dad, I mean, it is just putting the nail in the coffin, and I was thinking for someone like Pat Tate, I don’t think he would take that lightly, even in death and that’s why I said to him: “I will deal with you in hell.” What that means is now you have become me, now you are a murdering bastard. I wanted to put a different twist on that character because I didn’t want to play in the same as anyone else has done.

Do you think it was purely drugs that made them so aggressive and sadistic?

It takes a certain kind o f man to become a villain. He was one of the good guys, when you see the opening of the movie, ok, he was a tough kind, he liked to fight and he wouldn’t take nonsense off anyone, but, if you see the relationship he had with Mickey Steele at the beginning; he was one of the good guys, and then he came out and was on the steroids and, from what I gather, he was taking a concoction of cocaine and steroids and pills and whatever, everyday, and of course this is going to affect the brain and how you look at life and the paranoia set in more than anything. It’s never ending because the come down never happens, they never stop taking it so they never give themselves time to recoup and in the end you are a time bomb, you’re going to explode sooner or later, and he turned on his own people. You live by the sword you die by the sword…

You said you found acting in the violent scenes quite hard because it actually happened…..

When they are fictional characters, for us actors, its ink on the page, we have to take these characters, bring them to life and make them watchable, and memorable. But, when it is a true life story, to afflict pain and suffering on another human being as horrific as Pat did. We was doing the torture scene, when he thought Jonathan was sleeping with his wife and I remember at one stage, JJ [Jamie Kenna ] acted it so brilliantly that I looked down on him, when he was cowering down, and I felt sick, because what they do to him…burn him with cigarettes. They didn’t show you half of what they did – they made him take copious amounts of cocaine, somebody who has never taken it before, and then drop him outside his house and urinate on him is horrific and it happened. And the domestic violence he afflicted on his wife. When I was delivering the dialogue to her [Kierston Wareing] it was like: did you really do this to her? That is what it was like, it was an everyday occurrence. It was tough. It’s great if you play some one’s life and are celebrating it but when it comes to doing this it is tough.

Sometimes gangster films like this are criticised for glamorising the lifestyle and drugs…….

You know what? We needed to make the film watchable, if we went through the whole movie with just mindless murder and blood; it needs to be watchable and have some humour and comedy in it. Villains, I know a lot of villains, and villains only do what they need to do if money is involved; it’s just a job. Away from that they are still very charismatic and intelligent, they can be lovable people so we needed to make the film watchable first and foremost, but the whole glamourization thing about this movie; no way. I want to stress that no one should ever look at it as a glamourization of villainy, look at it as a deterrent, because if you are clever enough to look at it as a deterent and if you think for one minute that that life is clever – it really isn’t. There are always people a lot tougher and crazier than you, so: just don’t do it. Please.

After Bonded by Blood you did three American films….

I did one with Val Kilmer, called Blood Out, and 50 cent again. Then I went off and done another one with Sean Faris called Freerunner and I am actually shooting another one with Richard Gere, Martin Sheen and Topher Grace, it’s a four hander. It’s a little bit of a Eastern Promises type thing, it’s about Russian spies. It’s called The Double.

You have also done a film called Magic Boys with Michael Madison out this year. What was it like working with him? He has a reputation for his crazy antics on set…..

Brilliant, but erm, let me say eccentric because he is a friend of mine and I don’t want to get this wrong. But he is brilliant, he is a phenomenal actor. I call him king of the props because he just picks things up when he is acting and starts playing with stuff. He is very interesting. I never found him to be a diva or anything he turns up does his stuff.

Are you hoping to stay out in America more permanently now…

I live there. I have moved the family, my son has just signed for Portland in Oregon and my 12 year-old-daughter has started casting.

Were you pleased with the success of Dead Man Running which you produced….

I produced it, I raised the finance; I did everything for that movie from getting the script developed, to raising the finance from Ashley [Cole], Rio[Ferdinand] and getting the script re-written, going and finding 50 [cent]; from start to finish the whole thing was down to me. It is still making the numbers; there is defiantly a number two on that one – which is brilliant. It takes it to a complete different level, its Bruckheimer style: boats, cars, tangiers, terrorists. Alex De Rakoff has written the script and it will be out maybe this year.

At the premiere you said there might be The Business II in the making….

There has been a lot of talk of The Business II but it is down to Vertigo films and Nick love. If they wanted to do it me and Danny [Dyer] would be more than happy to do it. I am not a great lover of number twos and remakes, but I think the film became a cult movie; it’s up there with Sexy Beast and the Long Good Friday and get carter and people are still, 5 – 6 years in, people are still Business, Business, Business; people love it. If Nick Love and Vertigo films do it, it is going to be a winner because they don’t do crap those guy. It was fantastic me and Danny in Marbella for three months we had a great time. If we do the second one there is talk of it going to Ibiza. The other thing is me and Danny cost a lot more money now!

Before all this you were a boxer originally…

I was a boxer from the age of 9 up until about 22 to 23 [years old] . I was undefeated as an amateur. I still train hard and I held a boxing club for a little why; but your body can only take so much. I wanted to turn professional more than anything in the world it just wasn’t to be. I’m quite thankful for that to come in to this life, I love acting more than anything ….I’m miserable when I am not on a film set.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

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