Ray Winstone

Ray Winstone

Infobox actor
name = Ray Winstone

caption = Winstone in June 2006
birthdate = birth date and age|1957|2|19|df=y
birthplace = Hackney, England
birthname = Raymond Andrew Winstone, Jr.
spouse = Elaine Winstone (1979-)
emmyawards = International Emmy - Best Actor
2006 "Vincent"
awards = NBR Award for Best Cast
2001 "Last Orders"
2006 "The Departed"

Raymond Andrew "Ray" Winstone, Jr. [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/77/Ray-Winstone.html Ray Winstone Biography (1957-) ] ] (born 19 February 1957) is an Emmy Award-winning English film and television actor. He is mostly known for his "tough guy" roles, beginning with that of Carlin in the 1979 film "Scum", and is also known as a voice over actor. More recently he has branched out into film production. He is perhaps best known for his roles in the films "Nil by Mouth", "Sexy Beast", "Cold Mountain", "King Arthur", "The Proposition", "The Departed", "Beowulf" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".

Early life

Winstone was born in Homerton, in the London Borough of Hackney. [ [http://www.copperlily.com/AboutRayWinstone/RWbiog.htm Winstone Biography] accessed 10 May 2007] His family was originally from Cirencester, Gloucestershire – half of them moving to London, the other half to Wales. Moving via Plaistow to Enfield when Winstone was seven, his father, Raymond Andrew Winstone, Sr., ran a fruit and vegetable business (he is now a black cab driver) while his mother, Margaret, had a job emptying fruit machines. Winstone recalls playing with his friends on bomb sites until "Moors Murderers" Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were arrested after preying on children. Winstone was educated at Edmonton County, which had changed from a grammar school to a comprehensive upon his arrival. He didn't take to school, eventually leaving with a single CSE (Grade 2) in Drama.

Winstone had an early affinity for acting; his father would take him to the cinema every Wednesday afternoon. Later, he would witness Albert Finney in "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" and the bug would bite: "I thought 'I could be that geezer'" he said later. Other major influences included John Wayne, James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. After borrowing extra tuition money from a friend's mother, a drama teacher, he took to the stage, appearing as a Cockney newspaper-seller in a production of "Emil and the Detectives".

Winstone was also a fan of boxing. Known to his friends as Winnie, at home he was called Little Sugs (his dad already being known as Sugar – after Sugar Ray Robinson). At the age of 12, Winstone joined the famous Repton Amateur Boxing Club and, over the next 10 years, won 80 out of 88 bouts. At welterweight, he was London schoolboy champion on three occasions, fighting twice for England. The experience gave him a perspective on his later career: "If you can get in a ring with 2000 people watching and be smacked around by another guy, then walking onstage isn't hard."


Deciding to pursue drama, Winstone enrolled at the Corona Stage Academy in Hammersmith. At £900 a term, it was expensive, considering the average wage was then about £36 a week.

He landed his first major role in "What a Crazy World" at Theatre Royal Stratford East, but he danced and sang badly, leading his usually-supportive father to say "Give it up, while you're ahead." One of his first TV appearances came in the 1976 "Loving Arms" episode of the popular police series "The Sweeney" where he was credited as "Raymond Winstone" and played a minor part as an unnamed young thug.

Winstone was not popular with the school establishment, who considered him a bad influence. After some 12 months, he found that he was the only pupil not invited to the Christmas party and decided to take revenge for this slight. Hammering some tacks through a piece of wood, he placed it under the wheel of his headmistress's car and blew out the tyre. For this, he was expelled. As a joke, he went up to the BBC, where his schoolmates were involved in an audition, and got one of his own by flirting with the secretary. The audition was for one of the most notorious plays in history – Alan Clarke's "Scum" – and, because Clarke liked Winstone's cocky, aggressive boxer's walk, he got the part, even though it had been written for a Glaswegian. The play, written by Roy Minton and directed by Clarke, was a brutal depiction of a young offenders institution. Winstone was cast in the leading role of Carlin, a young offender who struggles against both his captors and his fellow cons in order to become the "Daddy" of the institution. Hard hitting and often violent (particularly during the infamous "billiards" scene in which Carlin uses two billiard balls stuffed in a sock in order to beat one of his fellow inmates over the head) the play was judged unsuitable for broadcast by the BBC, and was not finally shown until 1991. The banned television play was entirely re-filmed in 1979 for cinematic release with many of the original actors playing the same roles. In a recent director's commentary for the "Scum" DVD, Winstone cites Clarke as a major influence on his career, and laments the director's death in 1991 from cancer.

Winstone's role in "Scum" seems to have set a mould for many of his other parts; he is frequently cast as a tough or violent man. He has also been cast against type, however, in films in which he reveals a softer side. He had a comedic part in "Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence", and played the romantic lead in "Fanny and Elvis". His favourite role was in the television biopic on the life of England's most notorious monarch, King Henry VIII. Helena Bonham Carter co-starred as Henry's most well-known queen, Anne Boleyn. Emilia Fox played Jane Seymour, Charles Dance played the Duke of Buckingham, Emily Blunt played Catherine Howard and David Suchet played Cardinal Wolsey. Joss Ackland and Sean Bean also starred.

Television and film

After a short run in the TV series "Fox", and a role in "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains" (alongside Diane Lane, Laura Dern and a host of real-life punks like Fee Waybill, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Paul Simonon), Winstone got another big break, being cast as Will Scarlet in "Robin of Sherwood". He proved immensely popular and enjoyed the role, considering Scarlet to be "the first football hooligan" - though he was not fond of the dubbed German version, in which he said he sounded like a "psychotic mincer." But once the show was over, the parts dried up. He got involved in co-producing "Tank Malling", starring Jason Connery, Amanda Donohoe and Maria Whittaker, and scored a few TV parts. Over the years, he's appeared in TV shows including "The Sweeney", "The Bill", "Boon", "Fairly Secret Army" (as Stubby Collins), "Ever Decreasing Circles", "One Foot in the Grave", "Murder Most Horrid", "Birds of a Feather", "Minder", "Kavanagh QC", "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" and "Get Back" (with the fledgling Kate Winslet.) During this period, he was increasingly drawn to the theatre, playing in "Hinkemann" in 1988, "Some Voices" in 1994 and "Dealer's Choice" and "Pale Horse" the following year.

Winstone was asked to appear in "Mr Thomas", a play written by his friend and fellow-Londoner Kathy Burke. The reviews were good, and led to Winstone being cast, alongside Burke, in Gary Oldman's drama "Nil By Mouth". As an alcoholic wife-batterer, he was lauded across the board, receiving a BAFTA nomination (17 years after his Best Newcomer award for "That Summer"). He continued to play tough guy roles in the likes of "Face" and "The War Zone" — the latter especially controversial, as he played a father who rapes his teenage daughter — but that obvious toughness would also allow him to play decent men softened by love in romantic comedies like "Fanny and Elvis" and "There's Only One Jimmy Grimble". In "Last Christmas", he played a dead father, now a trainee angel, who returns from Heaven to help his young son cope with his bereavement, written by Tony Grounds who Ray worked with again on "Births, Marriages & Deaths" and "Our Boy" winning Ray the Royal Television Society Best Actor Award. They worked together again in 2006 on "All in the Game" where Ray gives a virtuoso performance as a football manager. He did a series of Holsten Pils ads where he played upon the phrase "Who's the Daddy", coined in the film "Scum".

In 2000 Winstone starred along side Jude Law in the hit cult film Love, Honour and Obey, then snagged a role as Gary 'Gal' Dove in "Sexy Beast", that brought him great acclaim from UK and international audiences, and brought him to the attention of the American film industry. Winstone plays a retired and happily married former thief, living off of his spoils in Spain, dragged back into London's underworld by two psychopathic former associates (played by Ian McShane and Ben Kingsley, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance).

After a brief role alongside Burke again in the tragi-comic "The Martins", he appeared in "Last Orders", directed by Fred Schepisi (of "Roxanne" fame), where he starred alongside the weighty likes of Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, David Hemmings and Tom Courtenay. Before shooting began, he was fearful that meeting these actor-heroes (he loved the likes of "Zulu" and "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner") might turn out to be disappointing. He later said his co-stars were as impressive as he'd hoped, however.

Next Winstone would nab a prime part in "Ripley's Game", the sequel to "The Talented Mr. Ripley", in which he once again played a cold-bloodedly violent gangster. He followed up with "Lenny Blue", the sequel to "Tough Love", and the short "The Bouncer".

In 2000, he starred in "To the Green Fields Beyond" at the Donmar Warehouse (directed by Sam Mendes, the man behind "American Beauty"). 2002 would see him at the Royal Court, as Griffin in "The Night Heron". Two years later, he joined Kevin Spacey for "24 Hour Plays" at the Old Vic, a series of productions that were written, rehearsed and performed in a single day. Now internationally known, Winstone was next chosen by Anthony Minghella to play Teague, a sinister Home Guard boss, in the Civil War drama "Cold Mountain".

Perhaps inspired by Burke and Oldman, Winstone has now decided to direct and produce his own movies, setting up "Size 9" and "Flicks" production companies with his long-time agent Michael Wiggs. The first effort was "She's Gone", in which he plays a businessman whose young daughter disappears in Istanbul (filming was held up by unrest in the Middle East.) He followed it up with "Jerusalem" in which he played poet and visionary William Blake.

Winstone made his action movie debut in "King Arthur", starring Clive Owen, directed by Antoine Fuqua, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. In that film, Fuqua proclaimed him as "the British De Niro." He then provided the voice of Soldier Sam in the long-awaited screen version of "The Magic Roundabout".

In 2005, he appeared opposite Suranne Jones in ITV drama "Vincent" about a team of private detectives. He returned to the role in 2006 and was awarded an International Emmy. In 2005 he also portrayed a 19th century English policeman trying to tame the Australian outback in "The Proposition". A complete change of pace for Winstone was providing the voice for the plucky Mr. Beaver in "", also in 2005. Winstone appears in the 2006 crime thriller by Martin Scorsese, "The Departed" as Mr. French, an enforcer to Jack Nicholson's Boston Irish mob boss. He provided motion capture movements and voice for the Beowulf character in the Robert Zemeckis' film "Beowulf". He starred in the fourth Indiana Jones film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", which was released on 22 May 2008.

He is set to play the role of Detective Inspector Jack Regan in a remake of The Sweeney, He is currently filming '44 Inch Chest' and plays the lead role along side John Hurt and Ian McShane as Colin Diamond a husband scorned by his love for his unfaithful wife. [ [http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/article810395.ece Ray Winstone | The Sweeney | Set for TV remake | The Sun |Showbiz|TV ] ] He has also been cast as CIA agent Darius Jedburgh in the "Edge of Darkness" remake, after Robert De Niro left the film. [cite news|author=Michael Fleming|title=Winstone replaces De Niro in 'Edge'|work=Variety|date=2008-09-12|url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117992081.html|accessdate=2008-09-12]

Personal life

Winstone met his wife, Elaine, while filming "That Summer" in 1979. They have three daughters and his two eldest Lois and Jaime are both actors. Winstone was bankrupted by the Inland Revenue before his marriage, and again soon afterwards, but his near-religious refusal to worry saw him through, as it would his occasional run-ins with the police. While returning from filming an episode of "Bergerac" on Jersey, he was stopped on suspicion of gun-running. And, a couple of years after that, he spent 72 hours in a Leeds jail cell, having been "identified" by a member of the public who'd seen an identikit picture of a criminal on "Crimewatch UK".


Winstone lives with his wife in Roydon, Essex, still supports West Ham United, and keeps up the physical training, being a regular at Ricky English's gym in Watford. He is a huge fan of crooners, as well as Motown, Al Green, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Paul Weller, Madness, and Ian Dury.



External links

* [http://www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/biographies/ray_winstone_biog.html Three-page biography from Tiscali Film & TV]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/faces/ray_winstone.shtml BBC Drama Faces - Ray Winstone]
* [http://www.ecsosa.org.uk/theschool/pupils/ Edmonton County former pupils]
* [http://raywinstone.netfast.org/ Full Ray Winstone filmography and career history]

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