Post People: Dagenham actor turned paparazzi to meet the stars

PUBLISHED: 15:50 31 July 2013 | UPDATED: 15:50 31 July 2013

Sopranos star James Gandolfini, now deceased, with Cole Dines

Sopranos star James Gandolfini, now deceased, with Cole Dines


Cole Dines, 40, of Chittys Lane, Dagenham, is a jobbing actor who worked as a paparazzi photographer for four years in order to network his way into the industry. He speaks about his love and determination to make it in the movie business.

Actor Cole DinesActor Cole Dines

Being a child of the 70s and 80s, I grew up with the big blockbuster movies like Star Wars, E.T. and Indiana Jones.

I adored film from an early age and when Eastenders came on TV in 1985 I loved it. It reminded me of where we lived.

My Mum and Dad used to drive me up to the TV studios in Hertfordshire to get all the cast’s autographs and I used to jump over the fence into Albert Square.

We went every year from when I was about 13 and it was seeing Eastenders that gave me the acting buzz.

I have always been quite shy and quiet in myself. They call acting the shy man’s revenge — you can be someone else — and I enjoy that side of it.

I have lived in Dagenham all my life and went to Robert Clack School. My dad was a forklift truck driver and my mum was a housewife.


I always thought I would love to be in the movies one day but I didn’t know actors I could talk to, all I knew about were the stage schools and they cost about £3,000 a term, which my family simply couldn’t afford.

Life took over when my son, Sam (now 21 and an estate agent) was born when I was 19 years old.

I put acting on the back-burner but it was still a burning ambition inside of me.

I did snippets of acting work for a while, then decided I wanted to get more serious and went to Anna Scher’s Drama School in Islington, north London, which has trained actors including Cathy Burke and Patsy Palmer.

I started doing short films — including a horror film called Blackout by Fascination Pictures, directed by James Bushe, which won a horror festival award — and got an agent.

It costs a small fortune to get decent pictures and get your name out there and you’re not earning any money so it isn’t something you’d do unless you’re really serious about it.

Star Wars

That’s why I try to think outside the box and use some initiative to try and create opportunities — like my audition tape for Star Wars (see

After family trouble left me effectively homeless, staying on a friend’s sofa for six months, I decided I wanted to go where the celebrities were and bought a digital camera.

I contacted a newly set up paparazzi agency and they told me to go to Faces nightclub in Gants Hill the next night with my camera.

Within about half-an-hour of arriving I got a picture of a celebrity being thrown out of the club for fighting. By the next day my lucky snap was in all the national papers.

But I didn’t really want to be a paparazzi, I just wanted to find celebrities and network. Soon enough I was getting invited to important events and rubbing shoulders with celebrities.

Over the years I have loads of famous wealthy people, including Soprano’s star James Gandolfini, actor James Cordon and even Michael Jackson.

I gave up the job after about four years and now I’m a full-time carer for my Mum. I’m doing what I can to get work as an actor.

You might have seen me on screen in Love Actually, playing a policeman, but I’m still waiting for my big break.

• Visit or follow @coledines on twitter for more about the actor.

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