Raymond Andrew Winstone is a British actor. He is mostly known for his "hard man" roles beginning with his role as Carlin in the 1979 film Scum. He also played Kevin, an ex-army soldier, in Quadrophenia as well as Will Scarlet in the television series Robin of Sherwood. He has also become well known as a voice over actor, and has branched out into film production.
His career includes roles in the films Sexy Beast, Cold Mountain, King Arthur, , The Departed, Beowulf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Edge of Darkness, The Sweeney and Noah.
Early lifeWinstone was born in Hackney Hospital, London, on 19 February 1957. He first lived in Caister Park Road, Plaistow E13, and attended Portway infants and junior school. He moved to Enfield when he was seven, and grew up on a council estate just off the A10 road. His father, Raymond J. Winstone, ran a fruit and vegetable business, 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 for killing three children there. Winstone joined Brimsdown Primary School and then he was educated at Edmonton County School, which had changed from a grammar school to a comprehensive upon his arrival. He also attended Corona Theatre School. He did not take to school, eventually leaving with a single CSE in Drama.
Winstone had an early affinity for acting; his father would take him to the cinema every Wednesday afternoon. Later, he viewed Albert Finney in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and said: "I thought, 'I could be that geezer'." 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, Winstone 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, he was called Little Sugs at home. At the age of 12, Winstone joined the Repton Amateur Boxing Club. Over the next 10 years, he 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."
SchoolDeciding 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 the Theatre Royal, Stratford, London, 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 establishment at his secondary school, who considered him a bad influence. After 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 offender's institution. Winstone was cast in the leading role of Carlin, a young offender who struggles against both his captors and his fellow cons to become the "Daddy" of the institution. Hard hitting and often violent the play was judged unsuitable for broadcast by the BBC, and was not 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 comedy part in Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence, and played the romantic lead in Fanny and Elvis. His favourite role was Henry VIII in the 2003 TV serial of the same name.
CareerAfter a short run in the TV series Fox, and a role in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 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 has appeared in TV shows including The Sweeney, The Bill, Boon, Fairly Secret Army, Ever Decreasing Circles, One Foot in the Grave, Murder Most Horrid, Birds of a Feather, Minder, Kavanagh QC, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Get-back. 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. He continued to play "tough guy" roles in 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 loved-up nice-guys in romantic comedies 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 advertisements where he played upon the phrase "Who's the Daddy", coined in the film Scum.
In 2000, Winstone starred alongside Jude Law in the hit cult film Love, Honour and Obey, then won the lead role in Sexy Beast, which 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.
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 get 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. 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 American Civil War drama Cold Mountain.
Perhaps inspired by Burke and Oldman, Winstone has now decided to direct and produce his own films, setting up Size 9 and Flicks production companies with his longtime agent Michael Wiggs. The first effort was She's Gone, in which he plays a businessman whose young daughter disappears in Istanbul. He followed it up with Jerusalem, in which he played poet and visionary William Blake.
Winstone made his action film 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 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. He also portrayed a 19th-century English policeman trying to tame the Australian outback in The Proposition. In 2006, American critic Roger Ebert described Winstone as "one of the best actors now at work in movies".
A complete change of pace for Winstone was providing the voice for the cheeky-chappy Mr. Beaver in , also in 2005. Winstone appeared in Martin Scorsese's 2006 film The Departed as Mr. French, an enforcer to Jack Nicholson's Irish mob boss. Critic Roger Ebert singled out Winstone for praise among the ensemble cast of The Departed, writing that the actor "invests every line with the authority of God dictating to Moses".
He provided motion capture movements and voice-over work 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.
Winstone next starred as Arjan van Diemen in the film Tracker with Temuera Morrison. He had a role as CIA agent Darius Jedburgh in the Edge of Darkness remake, replacing Robert De Niro. In 2012 he played the role of Detective Inspector Jack Regan in a remake of The Sweeney. Winstone stars in the slasher-thriller film Red Snow, directed by Stuart St. Paul and based on a short film by Adam Mason.
In 2011, Winstone starred in the British independent film The Hot Potato, a comedy thriller about two men who come into possession of a lump of uranium. The film, which is set in the East End of London in the 1960s, also stars Winstone's eldest daughter Lois Winstone, Jack Huston, Colm Meaney and David Harewood.
In April 2013, while a guest host of the comedy quiz show Have I Got News for You, he provoked controversy by stating that Scotland's chief exports were "oil, whisky, tartan and tramps", leading to a headline in The Scotsman claiming "Ray Winstone calls Scots 'tramps' on TV quiz show". Viewers complained to Ofcom and the BBC. In 2015, he played the role of ex-criminal Jimmy Rose in The Trials of Jimmy Rose, a three-part drama for ITV.
Personal lifeWinstone met his wife, Elaine McCausland, while filming That Summer in 1979. They have three daughters; the eldest two, Lois and Jaime, are both actresses. Winstone lives with his wife in Roydon, Essex.
He is an avid fan of West Ham United and promoted their 2009 home kit.
Winstone was declared bankrupt on 4 October 1988 and again on 19 March 1993.
In March 2019, Winstone expressed a preference for leaving the European Union without a deal in the context of Brexit and argued against holding a second referendum, stating that it would lead to "rebellion" and that "The country voted to leave. Then that's democracy, you leave."