Raymond Andrew Winstone
19 February 1957
Homerton, London, England
|Children||3, including Jaime and Lois|
Raymond Andrew Winstone (//; born 19 February 1957) is an English television, stage and film actor with a career spanning five decades. Having worked with many prominent directors, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, Winstone is perhaps best known for his "hard man" roles, usually delivered in his distinctive London accent. The first of these was That Summer! (1979) for which he received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer. He rose to prominence starring as Will Scarlet in the series Robin of Sherwood from 1984 to 1986.
Winstone received a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination for his performance in Nil by Mouth (1997). He also starred in the British independent films Scum (1979), Quadrophenia (1979), The War Zone (1999), Last Orders (2001), Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010). Winstone's other notable films include Sexy Beast (2000), Ripley's Game (2002), Cold Mountain (2003), King Arthur (2004), The Departed (2006), Beowulf (2007), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Hugo (2011), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), and Black Widow (2021).
Early life and education
Winstone was born on 19 February 1957 in Hackney Hospital, London. 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 (1933–2015), ran a fruit and vegetable business while his mother, Margaret (née Richardson; 1932–1985) had a job emptying fruit machines. Winstone has recounted how, as a child, he used to play with his friends on bomb sites (vacant lots with rubble from Second World War bombs). He joined Brimsdown Primary School and later 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 (Grade 2) in Drama. He recounted an early encounter with a notorious gangster:
"I was still a baby the day Ronnie Kray came round to see Dad, but I've been told this story so many times I can see it unfolding in my mind. Everyone was on their best behaviour, but then Ronnie picked me up, and by all accounts I pissed all over him. He had a new mac on, which had probably cost a few bob, and I absolutely covered it. The room fell silent, then Ronnie cracked up, so everyone knew it was safe to join in."
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 (his father already being known as Sugar, after Sugar Ray Robinson). At the age of 12, Winstone joined the Repton Amateur Boxing Club. Over the next 10 years, he won 80 out of 88 bouts. He was London schoolboy champion at welterweight on three occasions, and fought 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, when he was aged "about seventeen". 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 in 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" (as he was in What a Crazy World) 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. When he discovered that he was the only pupil not invited to the Christmas party he 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 which 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 (particularly during the infamous "billiards" scene in which Carlin uses two billiard balls stuffed in a sock to beat one of his fellow inmates over the head) 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, including Winstone. In a 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.
While Winstone has portrayed many characters who share the "hard man" nature of his performance in Scum, he has also explored a variety of other roles, including comedy (Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence) and as the romantic lead (Fanny and Elvis). His favourite role was Henry VIII in the 2003 TV serial of the same name, remarking at the time: "It's really flattering for me to be asked to play a king. I mean, I'm a kid out of Plaistow, and I'm playing one of the most famous kings of England. It's fantastic!"
After a short run in the TV series Fox (1980), and a role in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982), alongside Diane Lane, Laura Dern, and a host of real-life punks like Fee Waybill, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and Paul Simonon, Winstone starred in the opening episode of the third season of Bergerac (1983), quickly followed by another big break, when he was cast as Will Scarlet in Robin of Sherwood (which began in 1984). He proved immensely popular and enjoyed the role, considering Scarlet to be "the first football hooligan" – although he was reportedly not fond of the dubbed German version. When the series ended, he again teamed up with Jason Connery when they co-starred in Tank Malling, which also featured Amanda Donohoe and Maria Whittaker. Over the years he has appeared in many TV shows, including The Sweeney, The Bill, Boon, Fairly Secret Army (as Stubby Collins), Ever Decreasing Circles, One Foot in the Grave, ‘’Home To Roost, (Se4, Ep6)’’, 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. Ray also added his London accent to a dance track in 1982 by "Marsha Raven" called "I Like Plastic".
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 (1997). 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 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 which was written by Tony Grounds. In 1995, he played the sinister and mysterious Thane in the comedy drama series The Ghostbusters of East Finchley. The series was also written by 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 Love, Honour and Obey. He then won the lead role in Sexy Beast (2001), which earned 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). In 2000, he starred in To the Green Fields Beyond at the Donmar Warehouse and 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.
After a brief role alongside Burke again in the tragi-comic The Martins (2001), he appeared in Last Orders (2001) where he starred alongside Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, David Hemmings, and Tom Courtenay. Next Winstone would get a prime part in Ripley's Game (2002), the semi-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. 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 (2003).
At this time, Winstone set 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 (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 film debut in King Arthur (2004), starring Clive Owen, directed by Antoine Fuqua, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Fuqua lauded his performance proclaiming he was "the British De Niro". Winstone 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 when he provided the voice for the cheeky-chappy 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 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. Since 2009, Winstone has fronted the advertising for betting firm Bet365. He also co-founded a sports management business, Integral Sports Management, in 2020.
Winstone has mixed work in Hollywood productions with work in lower budget, independent films. In 2010, Winstone 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. Winstone starred in British independent film The Hot Potato in 2011, and the following year in a big-screen remake of popular 1970s show The Sweeney (2012).
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. In 2006, Winstone appeared as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car during series 8 of BBC's Top Gear.
In 2015, he starred in The Gunman with Sean Penn; the film was a box-office failure. That same year Winstone also featured in remake Point Break, a relative box-office success, though critically panned. In 2017 the actor starred in the critically acclaimed British independent film Jawbone, before 2018's critical and box-office failure King of Thieves. In 2019 Winstone starred in critical disaster The Queen's Corgi, and critical and box-office bomb Cats. Winstone then starred in Marvel's Black Widow in 2021.
Winstone has been described as one of the UK's "seminal screen hard nuts", while The Guardian has said that he "plays troubled hard men with such conviction, it's easy to believe he's not acting", adding that he is "the East End's answer to George Clooney".
Winstone met his wife, Elaine McCausland, while filming That Summer in 1979. They have three daughters; the eldest two, Lois and Jaime, are 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, in the context of Brexit, Winstone expressed a preference for leaving the European Union without a deal 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."
|1976||The Sweeney||2nd Youth||1 episode|
|1980||Fox||Kenny Fox||13 episodes|
|1983||Auf Wiedersehen, Pet||Colin||1 episode|
|1984||Fairly Secret Army||Stubby Collins||3 episodes|
|1984–1986||Robin of Sherwood||Will Scarlet||Main role, 24 episodes|
|1986||C.A.T.S. Eyes||Geoff||1 episode|
|Ever Decreasing Circles||Harold||1 episode|
|Father Matthew's Daughter||Father Charlie||6 episodes|
|Pulaski||DS Ford||2 episodes|
|1990||Birds of a Feather||Malcolm/ Prison Warder||2 episodes|
|Home to Roost||Bill Bateman||1 episode|
|1992||Between the Lines||Sgt. Godley||1 episode|
|1992–1993||Get Back||Martin Sweet||Main role, 15 episodes|
|1994||Murder Most Horrid||Terry||1 episode|
|1995||The Ghostbusters of East Finchley||Thane||6 episodes|
|Kavanagh QC||CPO Evans||1 episode|
|1996||One Foot in the Grave||Vagrant / Millichope||1 episode|
|1999||Births, Marriages and Deaths||Alan||Miniseries, 4 episodes|
|Last Christmas||Neville||TV movie|
|2000–2002||Lenny Blue||DC Lenny Milton||Main role, 4 episodes|
|2002||At Home with the Braithwaites||Steve Searle||1 episode|
|2003||Henry VIII||King Henry VIII||2 episodes|
|2004||She's Gone||Harry Sands||Television film|
|2005–2006||Vincent||Vincent Gallagher||Main role, 8 episodes|
|2006||All in the Game||Frankie||Television film|
|Sweeney Todd||Sweeney Todd||Television film|
|2010||Ben Hur||Quintus Arrius||Miniseries, 2 episodes|
|2011||Great Expectations||Abel Magwitch||Miniseries, 3 episodes|
|2013||Moonfleet||Elzevir Block||Miniseries, 2 episodes|
|2015||The Trials of Jimmy Rose||Jimmy Rose||Main role, 3 episodes|
|2016||The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells||H.G. Wells||Introducer and narrator, 4 episodes|
|Of Kings and Prophets||Saul||Main role, 9 episodes|
|2016–2018||Ice||Cam Rose||Main role, 20 episodes|
|2011||Killzone 3||Admiral Orlock||Also motion capture performance|
Awards and nominations
|1979||BAFTA Award||Best Newcomer||That Summer||Nominated|
|1997||BAFTA Award||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Nil by Mouth||Nominated|
|British Independent Film Award||Best Actor||Nominated|
|1999||British Independent Film Award||Best Actor||The War Zone||Nominated|
|European Film Award||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2001||British Independent Film Award||Best Actor||Last Orders||Nominated|
|2005||San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Supporting Actor||The Proposition||Won|
|2006||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture||The Departed||Nominated|
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- "New home kit revealed The 2009/10 Umbro home strip has been revealed with famous fan Ray Winstone the first to try it on". Whufc.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
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- "Brexit: Actor Ray Winstone warns of 'rebellion'". BBC News. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
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