He was known as Little Sugs in the boxing world, a welterweight who fought for 10 years and amassed 80 wins in 88 fights. A product of the boroughs of London, Ray Winstone had two passions: boxing and drama. In his late teen years, he was enrolled in the prestigious Corona Stage Academy but was an outcast, a rebel. Not fitting into the mold (and knowing it), Ray blew out the tires of the headmaster’s car and was expelled. He auditioned for fun without really thinking he’d get parts. But he did with “Scum,” and director Alan Clarke was a lifelong mentor to Ray before his death in 1991.
“Scum” established Ray as an actor who can deftly be a tough guy who can get violent if need be. These kinds of roles continued to resurface for Ray throughout his career. Perhaps most notably was his Mr. French, Frank Costello’s right hand man in “The Departed.” For much of the 1980s and 90s, Ray was on British television, but it was the year 2000 that could be described as Ray’s breakout year. He appeared alongside Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane in “Sexy Beast” portraying the lead character Gal Dove. It was the beginning of a renaissance for Ray – roles as King Henry VIII, Bors in “King Arthur,” Sweeney Todd and the title character “Vincent” for BBC TV followed.
Ray is now “Beowulf,” perhaps the character in which could be his crowning achievement. Regardless, it is a character he was born to play. He chews his scenery with gusto and bravura, and entering his 50s looks as if it’s just the beginning.
Ray on the Web
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TV Guide: Ray Winstone
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Topps Ray Winstone Fansite
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About Ray Winstone
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The Independent Online Interview
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Ray on family life.
Ray on the Screen
His first big role was in “Scum” in 1979 when he was 22. He’s credited as Raymond Winstone that same year in “Quadrophenia,” portrays Will Scarlet in the TV production “Robin Hood and the Sorcerer” in 1983, and would reprise that role for 23 episodes in the series “Robin of Sherwood.” He spent the next decade and a half on British television and supporting roles in UK indie pictures before he has the lead in “The War Zone,” the 1999 film directed by actor Tim Roth. He’s John Barrett in “Darkness Falls” the same year. “Sexy Beast” came a year later. In the last seven years, Ray has participated in over 25 projects including “King Arthur,” “Cold Mountain,” “Ripley’s Game,” and “The Departed.” He’s the voice of Mr. Beaver in “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and recently returned to British TV as the title character of “Vincent,” a hard-nosed private investigator.
Most recently, Ray voices the title character in the Robert Zemeckis version of “Beowulf.” He’ll play Moe Fitch in “Fool’s Gold,” an action-adventure picture with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, and in summer 2008, audiences will see him as Harrison Ford’s sidekick in the long awaited “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” He’s set to go to work on “44 Inch Test” with John Hurt, Ian McShane and Tim Roth, and is in talks to play Jack Reagan in “The Sweeney,” the feature version of the 1970s UK television show which, ironically, was Ray’s first gig back in 1976.
On how it works:
“I went to the audition for a laugh and got the part for the way I walked down the corridor. There's no justice is there?”
“If you can get in a ring with 2000 people watching and be smacked around by another guy, then walking onstage isn't hard.”