Former amateur boxer British actor Ray Winstone first received international recognition for his brutal portrayal of an abusive, alcoholic family patriarch in Gary Oldman's “Nil by Mouth” (1997). Since then, he is primarily known for his "tough guy" roles and has starred in such films as "The War Zone" (1999), "Sexy Beast" (2000), "Cold Mountain" (2003), "King Arthur" (2004), "The Proposition" (2005), "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (2005; voice of Mr. Beaver), "Breaking and Entering" (2006), "The Departed" (2006), "Beowulf" (2007), "Fool's Gold" (2008), and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008). He will next be seen in the upcoming films "The Devil's Tomb," "44 Inch Chest," "Fathers of Girls," "Edge of Darkness," "13," "The Cup," and "The Sweeney."
“Some of the best jobs I've done have been with directors who are very feminine or who are women because they look for other things in a man. They're not interested in the macho sh**, you know, and I find that much more interesting because the strengths are already there. Physically I'm quite a big man with a strong voice, but then you have to find the other stuff.” Ray Winstone
On the small screen, the actor who debuted in the controversial television "Scum" (1977; later reprise his role in its 1979 film version), played lead roles in the TV movies "Our Boy" (1997), "Births, Marriages and Deaths" (1999), "Tube Tales" (1999), and "Sweeney Todd" (2006). He also starred in the British TV series "Fox" (1980), "Fairly Secret Army" (1984), "Robin of Sherwood" (1984-1986), and "Vincent" (2005-2006).
On a personal note, Winstone is married and has three kids.
“Well, you create your own persona, don't you? And you have to live with that. But the people that I meet, they don't think that I'm a lunatic. And if they do, then that's OK because it means that I'm playing the parts all right.” Ray Winstone
Amateur Boxer Champ
Childhood and Family:
In Hackney, London, England, Raymond Andrew Winstone was born on February 19, 1957. His father, Raymond Winstone Sr., previously ran a fruit and vegetable business and his mother, Margaret Winstone, had a job emptying fruit machines. She died in 1985.
Young Winstone attended Edmonton County School and began boxing for the famous Repton Amateur Boxing Club at age 12. He was the London Schoolboy Champion three times. In his ten years of boxing, he won 80 out of 88 fights.
Winstone attended drama school at the Corona Stage Academy in Hammersmith (1975-1976), where he was expelled because of an incident involving an instructor’s car.
While filming “That Summer” in 1979, Winstone met Elaine, whom he married that same year. They have three children: Lois Winstone (born in 1982, a singer with the London-based hip-hop group "Crack Village" who also played his on-screen daughter in “Last Orders,” 2001), Jaime Winstone (born in 1985, an actress who wants to be a director, and Ellie (born in 2001).
Winstone went bankrupt twice and has had several run-ins with the police.
“Unless it's your business or something, bankrupt just means you can't have a bank account.” Ray Winstone
A supporter of the West Ham United Football Club, Winstone is currently learning to ride a horse. He is a huge fan of Al Green, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Paul Weller, Madness, and Ian Dury.
Nil by Mouth
A former amateur boxer champ, Ray Winstone turned to acting and honed in on his craft at the successful British drama school Corona Stage Academy. In 1977, at age 20, he was discovered by director Alan Clarke, who recruited him to play the lead role of reform school terror Carlin in the BBC drama TV movie "Scum." The controversial film, which was shelved by censors for content, would later be remade into a film in 1979 with Winstone reprising his role. He also portrayed Phil Daniels' childhood friend and rocker rival Kevin in "Quadrophenia" (1979), a story inspired by The Who's opera album of the same name, and was nominated for Most Promising Newcomer in a Leading Film Role at the BAFTA Awards for his performance as Steve in “That Summer” (1979). He then starred as Kenny Fox in the British television drama series "Fox" (1980), and appeared as Billy in "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains" (1982).
From 1984 to 1986, Winstone starred as Will Scarlett in the acclaimed British TV series based on the legend of Robin Hood, "Robin of Sherwood," portraying Will Scarlet, a prominent member of Robin Hood's "Merry Men." During this time, he also played the recurring role of Stubby Collins, a gangster in the British sitcom "Fairly Secret Army" (1984-1986).
In 1989, Winstone starred as an investigative reporter in the independent thriller "Tank Malling" and worked for the first time with Kathy Burke in the stage play written and directed by Burke, "Mr. Thomas." Afterward, he starred in the BBC sitcom "Get Real" (1992) and appeared in Ken Loach's drama starring Crissy Rock, "Ladybird Ladybird" (1994).
“You were allowed to go, like theater, where you carry a scene on and you become engrossed within the scene. I loved the speed of it. There was no time to sit around. You actually cracked on with a scene and your energy levels were kept up. There was no time to actually sit around and lose your concentration. So, for me, I actually really, really enjoyed this experience.” Ray Winstone
Winstone returned to the stage in the Royal Court production of "Some Voice" (1994) and starred in Patrick Marber's play "Dealer's Choice" (1995), which would later be transferred to the West End. On television, he starred in the short lived TV series "Ghostbusters of East Finchley" (1995).
1997 saw Winstone act alongside Guy Pearce, Johnathon Schaech, and Noah Taylor in "Woundings," a futuristic film full of action and romance, and make a triumphant performance as the raging Raymond, the abusive husband of Valerie (played by Kathy Burke), in writer/director Gary Oldman's critically successful drama film "Nil By Mouth," which won him a British Independent Film Award for Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film and nominated him for a BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Also that year, Winstone portrayed a working-class father in the British television film "Our Boy" (screened at Toronto International Film Festival), which won him a Royal Television Society (UK) Award for Best Actor - Male, and teamed up with Robert Carlyle as a career criminal who betrays his cohorts, in Antonia Bird's drama, "Face."
The rest of the decade, Winstone appeared alongside Monica Potter, Joseph Fiennes, Rufus Sewall, and Tom Hollander in the romantic comedy "Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence" (1998; released in the U.S. as "The Very Thought of You" in 1999), and acted in the Bob Hoskins-directed segment "My Father, The Liar" in the film "Tube Tales." He was also featured as a loan shark in Anjelica Huston's 1967 Dublin-set drama inspired by Brendan O'Carroll's novel, "Agnes Browne," and had his first real romantic lead, opposite Kerry Fox, in the independent romantic comedy "Fanny and Elvis." Additionally, he played the lead role in Tim Roth's critically-acclaimed directorial debut, the incest-themed drama based on Alexander Stuart's novel, "The War Zone," which was screened at both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, and starred in the four-part BBC TV series "Births, Marriages and Deaths."
Entering the new millennium, Winstone appeared in the Donmar Warehouse production of "To the Green Fields and Beyond," directed by Sam Mendes, and starred opposite Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane in director Jonathan Glazer's Oscar-nominated debut feature film, "Sexy Beast," which was screened at Sundance in 2001. He then became a cast member of Fred Schepisi's British/German drama film based on the 1996 Booker Prize-winning novel by Graham Swift, "Last Orders" (2001), which won him a National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble.
After returning to the stage starring in Jez Butterworth's play "The Night Heron" at London's Royal Court Theatre in 2002, Winstone played Teague in Anthony Minghella's Oscar-winning film adaptation of the novel by Charles Frazier, "Cold Mountain" (2003), and appeared in Antoine Fuqua's historical film "King Arthur" (2004) with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley.
During 2005-2006, Winstone played an ex-cop turned private investigator in ITV’s drama series "Vincent," which won him an International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor. Meanwhile, he also voiced Mr. Beaver in Andrew Adamson's epic fantasy film based on C.S. Lewis' children's novel, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (2005), and starred in the Australian western written by musician Nick Cave, "The Proposition," which won him a San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was also cast alongside Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, and Robin Wright Penn in Anthony Minghella's "Breaking and Entering" (2006) and took home a Magnolia Award (Best Actor) from the Shanghai International TV Festival for his performance in a BBC adaptation of the classic tale "Sweeney Todd" (2006).
Winstone was next nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and won a National Board of Review Award for Best Ensemble for his work in Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning mob drama, "The Departed" (2006), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson.
“On every job you do, you've got to raise your game. My ambition is to just get better and better every job you do. You should never stop trying to get better. You have to teach yourself new things. I don't think you necessarily learn them from other people because you have your own style of doing things, but hopefully you get better.” Ray Winstone
Recently, Winstone portrayed the title character in Robert Zemeckis' big-budget fantasy film based on the Old English epic poem, "Beowulf" (2007; with Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, Alison Lohman, John Malkovich, Crispin Glover, Brendan Gleeson, and Angelina Jolie). He recalled, “I had the beauty of not reading the book, which I understand portrays Beowulf as a very one-dimensional kind of character - a hero and a warrior and that was it. I didn't have any of that baggage to bring with me.” Ray Winstone
Winstone also co-starred as Matthew McConaughey's mentor in Andy Tennant's film, "Fool's Gold" (2008), and was cast in Steven Spielberg's adventure film, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008), with Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, and Shia LaBeouf. Commenting on Spielberg, Winstone said, “You know, the people that are really good at what they do are the easiest people in the world and they allow you to bring something to the table. You end up doing what they want you to do, but they make you feel that you're bringing something to the table and it's just a real pleasure to go to work every day.”
Winstone will soon complete his upcoming film projects, "The Devil's Tomb," a thriller helmed by Jason Connery in which he co-stars with Cuba Gooding Jr., and "44 Inch Chest," a drama in which he acts opposite John Hurt and Ian McShane. He is currently filming Ethem Cetintas and Karl Howman's drama "Fathers of Girls," Martin Campbell's dramatic thriller "Edge of Darkness" (opposite Mel Gibson), and Géla Babluani's thriller "13" (with Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, and Ray Liotta). He is also working on Simon Wincer's true story-based horseracing drama "The Cup" and Nick Love's drama film based on the 70's U.K. TV show, "The Sweeney."
British Independent Film: Richard Harris Award, 2007
International Emmy: Best Performance by an Actor, "Vincent," 2006
National Board of Review: Best Ensemble, "The Departed," 2006
San Diego Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actor, "The Proposition," 2006
Shanghai International TV Festival: Magnolia Award - Best Actor, "Sweeney Todd," 2006
National Board of Review: Best Acting by an Ensemble, "Last Orders," 2001
Royal Television Society (UK): Best Actor - Male, "Our Boy," 1999
British Independent Film: Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film, "Nil by Mouth," 1998