HE WAS the cheeky kid who played Baby Face in Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone back in 1976.
Then he graduated to playing Spike in TV's Press Gang via further roles in Les Miserables (Gavroche), The Elephant Man and The Long Good Friday.
After resurfacing as Soap in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), he's since starred in Band of Brothers, Kick-Ass, Hotel Babylon and The Three Musketeers.
Throw in the kind of colourful off-set stories which make or break some stars and Dexter Fletcher, now 47, is busy reinventing himself as one of the hottest 'young' directors in the country.
His debut Wild Bill (2011) and current hit Sunshine On Leith (2013) have been well received critically.
While Wild Bill was a film he made on "safe", familiar territory, there's no doubting his bravery with his new film, based on the songs of The Proclaimers - a duo he didn't think he was a fan of until he realised the brilliance of their lyrics and tightness of their rhythms.
"I wanted to try something completely different, so a musical in Scotland with sunshine sounded irresistible," he laughs.
"The film was shot in November and originally ended with everyone dancing in a corridor, but I decided to do the ending again several months later, and in May the sunshine came out for the big finale.
"It was like a jamboree with 400 extras and the aim was to have audiences clapping and stomping their feet."
Directing seems to come naturally to him. "There's an electricity on set and I enjoy it," he says. "People do things which constantly surprise you so that they bring even more to their roles than you were expecting. I love being in the middle of what people are doing and trying to achieve. But it's hard work. There are no two ways about it."
Dexter has been married to acclaimed Lithuanian-born director Dalia Ibelhauptaite since 1997, but they haven't had children.
A regret in one sense, but his door is now wide open.
"I just don't know what I'm going to do next," he says. "But I do like to challenge myself."
Sunshine on Leith is in cinemas now.
"People do things which constantly surprise you so that they bring even more to their roles than you were expecting
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