Raymond Andrew "Ray" Winstone (born 19 February 1957) is an 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 as 'Will Scarlet' in the cult television adventure series Robin of Sherwood. He has also become well known as a voice over actor. More recently he has branched out into film production. His film résumé includes Nil by Mouth, Sexy Beast, Cold Mountain, King Arthur, The Proposition, The Departed, Beowulf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 44 Inch Chest and Edge of Darkness.
Winstone was born in Hackney Hospital, London. His family was originally from Cirencester, Gloucestershire – half of them moving to London, the other half to Wales. Winstone moved via Plaistow to Enfield when he was seven. His father, Raymond J. Winstone, ran a fruit and vegetable business (he is now a black cab driver), while his mother, Margaret (née Richardson), 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 for killing three children. Winstone joined Brimsdown Primary School and then he was educated at Edmonton County, which had changed from a grammar school to a comprehensive upon his arrival. He did not 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 father 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 2,000 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 pins 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 'Takeover' scene in which Carlin uses two snooker 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 1990 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 favorite 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 & FilmEdit
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. He was widely lauded for his performance as an alcoholic wife-batterer, 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 man who rapes his own 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 man, now a trainee angel, who returns from Heaven to help his young son cope with his bereavement, written by Tony Grounds, with whom Winstone worked again on Births, Marriages & Deaths and Our Boy, the latter winning him the Royal Television Society Best Actor Award. They worked together again in 2006 on All in the Game where Winstone portrayed 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 the lead role 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 "Gal" Dove, a retired and happily married former thief dragged back into London's underworld by a psychopathic former associate (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, where he starred alongside Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, David Hemmings and Tom Courtenay.
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 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). In 2002 he performed 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 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, also in 2005. Winstone appeared in Martin Scorsese's 2006 film The Departed as 'Mr. French', an enforcer to Jack Nicholson's mob boss. He provided motion capture movements and voice for the title character in the Robert Zemeckis' film Beowulf. He then co-starred in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was released on 22 May 2008. He returned to television drama in The Changeling inspired Compulsion, originally shown in May 2009. He is currently filming in New Zealand as 'Arjan' in the film Tracker with Temuera Morrison. He next stars in 44 Inch Chest, alongside John Hurt and Ian McShane. He also had a role as CIA agent 'Darius Jedburgh' in the Edge of Darkness remake, replacing Robert De Niro. He is set to play the role of Detective Inspector 'Jack Regan' in a remake of The Sweeney. Winstone stars also in the slasher-thriller film Red Snow, directed by Stuart St. Paul and based on a short film by Adam Mason.
Winstone is currently appearing in Bet365 adverts on British television where he can clearly be seen reading the script as he delivers his lines.
Winstone met his wife, Elaine, while filming That Summer in 1979. They have three daughters, the eldest two, Lois and Jaime, both being actors.
Winstone lives with his wife in Roydon, Essex. He is an avid fan of West Ham United and promoted their 2009 home kit. He was reportedly on the verge of acquiring a 5% stake in the club in early 2010. He also supports Scottish Premier League side Hibernian due to a pact he made with fellow actor Dougray Scott. Scott, who supports Hibs, and Winstone reciprocally agreed to support each other's clubs. He keeps up his 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.