FRC Icon #1 Ray Winstone
Here we have the first in the new series of post based on FRC’s favourite screen icons. This week it is Ray Winstone.
As some of you may have noticed I have a bit of a thing for Mr Winstone. I am always on the look out for a strong Father type. Generally playing strong roles he always has great screen presence and personality. His voice is unmistakable as is his swagger.
Born on the 19th February 1957 in Hackney Hospital, Raymond Andrew Winstone has grown to be one of the most recognizable faces (and voices) in british cinema of his generation. But it started from an unlikely beginning.
Winstone moved to Enfield with his parents at the age of 7 where they opened and ran a small fruit and vegetable business. Starting a very promising boxing career at the age of 12 at the famous Repton Amateur boxing club, he quickly became a real contender. In ten years of boxing he was crowned “London Schoolboy Champion” three times and fought for England twice. In total Winstone managed to accrue over 80 medals and trophies!! Hard as nails!!
When Winstone reach 18 he decided to change career. He always dreamed of becoming an actor and studied at the Corona School. He had a very checkered career until he was cast in his breakout role as “Carlin” in the Alan Clarke Production of Scum in 1977.
On this Ray says…
“By the time Scum came up I’d made up my mind not to be an actor, I was leaving drama school. I’d lasted twelve months, no remission. They tried to get me out a couple of times and they were probably right, to be perfectly honest; I was a bit of a toe-rag. I was told I was a bit of a danger to the other kids ‘cos of my accent.
So I sabotaged the headmistress’s car – I got a lolly stick and put all these tacks through it, put it under her front tyre and when she drove off, bang. But some straight kid turned grass – he lollied me up, as they say – and I was asked to leave the premises. And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. They were having a casting and I was only supposed to be there saying goodbye to my mates. I got talking to the receptionist and she said, ‘You wanna go in and meet the director?’ I said, ‘Nah, not really, I’m off for a drink with the boys,’ I was flirting with her really, showing off, but I went in and met Clarkey [director of 'Scum' Alan Clarke]. And I got the job! I didn’t have a clue what it was, hadn’t seen the script, and I didn’t really care. I thought, ‘Yeah I’ll do it, bit of a laugh’. It was written for a Scotsman originally, he was a Glaswegian in the script, Carlin. But apparently Al gave me the part because he like the way I walked down a corridor.”
Despite the fact that Winstone told Alan Clarke that he left boxing to become an actor so he didn’t get hit anymore, Ray was involved in some very violent and graphic scenes in this story of life with in a Borstal (a Youth Prison). The BBC took one look at the uncompromising nature of SCUM and its subject matter and shelved the project. Completely disillusioned by this Ray quit acting all together. He could be found on fruit and veg stalls around the East End.
Luckily for us and Winstone, a phone call came from Davina Belling stating that a commercial film version of SCUM was being made and his stand out performance would finally provide Winstone the kickstart to his very long and varied career.
Married to Elaine, they have two beautiful daughters. Jaime can be seen following in her Fathers footsteps with a promising acting career starring in the brilliant “Kidulthood”
Winstone has now set up his own production company “Size 9“.
Here are some of my favourite films to try if you fancy a bit of the hard nut Winstone.
Raw, violent and shocking, Scum is a compelling story set in a contemporary Borstal. It tells of life in an institution run by violence and brutality rather than reason, where the boy who can fight his way to the top of the heap and reign as “Daddy” will gain the respect of the inmates and sadistic “screws” alike.
One of the most controversial films ever made in the UK, and one which caused a furore when it was first screened on TV, ‘Scum’ stars Ray Winstone as Carlin, the one man prepared to struggle against all odds to be top dog in a system that is intent on breaking him.
London 1964: two rival youth cults emerge – the mods and the rockers – with explosive consequences. For Jimmy (Phil Daniels) and his sharp-suited, pill-popping, scooter-riding mates, being a mod is a way of life. It’s their generation.
Together they head off to Brighton for an orgy of drugs, thrills and violent confrontation against the rockers. Jimmy never wants to stray from his maxim: “I don’t wanna be like everybody else, that’s why I’m a mod, see?” Will Jimmy emerge a hero or will he be disillusioned by his way of life?
Nil By Mouth 1997
Against the dreary backdrop of Southeast London’s concrete housing estates, the lives of three underclass Brits come crashing down. Gary Oldman’s conversational, improvisatory script follows his characters wretched lives in crowded council flats, tawdry Piccadilly strip joints, with truly outstanding acting and honesty.
Sexy Beast 2000
A contented ex-villain is forced to do one last spectacular robbery by a psychotic face from his past in this mould-breaking stylish thriller by one of the UK’s hottest new talents, Guinness surfer ad director Jonathan Glazer
Gary Dove (Ray Winstone) is blissfully retired, living in a Spanish villa paradise with the wife he adores. His perfect lifestyle is shattered by the arrival of his gangster nemesis Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), intent on persuading him to return to London for a big heist. Desperate not to sacrifice his carefully built idyll, Dove is drawn into a shocking battle of wills with Logan, ending in an explosive psychological showdown, and a sensational underwater bank robbery in which he must risk everything to protect the woman he loves.
The Proposition 2005
Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) captures fugitive Burns brothers Charley (Guy Pearce) and Mikey (Richard Wilson) at the scene of bloody rape and murder. Informing Charley that he must kill his older brother, Arthur (Danny Huston), in order to be set free, Stanley drags Mikey to a decrepit jailhouse while he waits for Charley to carry out the deed…
Director John Hillcoat’s second collaboration with melancholic musician Nick Cave (here contributing the film’s screenplay and soundtrack), is a taut character study of desperation amid the mesmerizing backdrop of the 19th century Australian outback.
Obviously one look at IMDb and you can see the extent of Winstones career, TV and Movie. I have only covered the ones that stand out for me. If you have any thoughts on Ray Winstone or if there are any performance you loved that I missed. Please add them below.
I hope you enjoyed this look at one of my favourite actors in the new “Icon” section.
Quote taken from the Ray Winstone unofficial Biography