Ray Winstone

Raymond Andrew Winstone (/ˈwɪnstən/;[1] born 19 February 1957) is an English film and television 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.

Ray Winstone
Winstone at the London premiere for Noah in March 2014.
Raymond Andrew Winstone

(1957-02-19) 19 February 1957
Homerton, London, England
ResidenceRoydon, Essex, England
Years active1976–present
Elaine McCausland (m. 1979)
Children3, including Lois and Jaime

His career includes roles in the films Sexy Beast, Cold Mountain, King Arthur, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Magic Roundabout, The Departed, Beowulf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Edge of Darkness, The Sweeney and Noah.

In 2006, American critic Roger Ebert described Winstone as "one of the best actors now at work in movies".[2]

Early life

Winstone was born in Hackney Hospital, London.[3] 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,[4] while his mother, Margaret (née Richardson; 1932–1985),[5] had a job emptying fruit machines. Winstone recalls playing with his friends on bomb sites (vacant lots with rubble from World War II bombs), until "Moors Murderers" Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were arrested for killing three children. Ray 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 (Grade 2) 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 (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. 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."[6]


Deciding 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 (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. 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 in the television biographical film on the life of England's most notorious monarch, King Henry VIII, in which he played the title role.


After a short run in the TV series Fox, and a role in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (alongside Diane Lane, Laura Dern and a host of real life punks like Fee Waybill, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Paul Simonon), 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 (as Stubby Collins), Ever Decreasing Circles, One Foot in the Grave, 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.

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 (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, 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 (Ben Kingsley, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance).

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 (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, 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. A complete change of pace for Winstone was providing 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".[7]

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. Filmed in New Zealand, Tracker, which tells the story of an Afrikaner commando leader who emigrates to New Zealand after the Second Boer War, was premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. He appeared in 44 Inch Chest alongside John Hurt and Ian McShane.[8] He had a role as CIA agent Darius Jedburgh in the Edge of Darkness remake, replacing Robert De Niro.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] In 2015, he played the role of ex-criminal Jimmy Rose in The Trials of Jimmy Rose, a three-part drama for ITV.

Personal life

Winstone 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.[12]

Winstone was declared bankrupt on 4 October 1988[13] and again on 19 March 1993.[14]

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."[15]


1976The Sweeney2nd YouthTV series (episode: "Loving Arms")
1979That SummerSteve BrodieNominated—BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
QuadropheniaKevin Herriot
1980FoxKenny FoxTV series
1981Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous StainsBilly
1983Ninety Percent Proof, BergeracTully
Auf Wiedersehen, PetColinTV series (episode "The Fugitive")
1984–1986Robin of SherwoodWill ScarletTV series
1984–1989MinderArnieTV series (4 episodes)
1986Ever Decreasing CirclesHaroldTV series (episode "Manure")
1989Tank MallingJohn 'Tank' Malling
1994Ladybird, LadybirdSimon
1996One Foot in the GraveVagrant/MillichopeChristmas Special Starbound
1997Nil by MouthRayBritish Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Our BoyWoody WilliamsonTV movie
1998Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and LaurencePederesen
Final CutRay
Brand New WorldColonel
1999Darkness FallsJohn Barrett
The War ZoneDadNominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—European Film Award for Best Actor
Births, Marriages and DeathsAlanSeries
Nominated—BAFTA TV Award for Best Drama Serial
Tube TalesFatherSegment: "My Father the Liar"
2000There's Only One Jimmy GrimbleHarry
Sexy BeastGary 'Gal' DoveNominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Jameson People's Choice Award for Best European Actor
Tough LoveDC Lenny Milton2 episodes
Love, Honour and ObeyRay Kreed
2001Last OrdersVince 'Vincey' DoddsNominated—European Film Award for Best Actor (shared with Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings and Bob Hoskins)
The MartinsMr. Marvel
2002Ripley's GameReeves
Lenny BlueDC Lenny Milton2 episodes
2003Henry VIIIHenry VIIITV movie
Cold MountainTeague
King ArthurBors
She's GoneHarry SandsTV movie
2005The PropositionCaptain StanleySan Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Australian Film Institute Award for Best Lead Actor
The Magic RoundaboutSoldier Sam (voice)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeMr. Beaver (voice)
VincentVincent GallagherTV series

International Emmy Award for Best Actor

2006Sweeney ToddSweeney ToddTV movie
All in the GameFrankieTV movie
The DepartedArnold/Mr. French
Breaking and EnteringBruno Fella
2008Fool's GoldMoe Fitch
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullGeorge "Mac" McHale
CompulsionDon Flowers
2009The Devil's TombBlakely
44 Inch ChestColin Diamond
Fathers of GirlsFrank Horner
2010Sex & Drugs & Rock & RollWilliam Dury
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning ThiefAresUncredited
Edge of DarknessDarius Jedburgh
13Ronald Lynn
London BoulevardGant
TrackerArjan van Diemen
Ben HurQuintus ArriusTV miniseries
2011Killzone 3Admiral Orlock (voice)Video game
Also motion capture
RangoBad Bill (voice)
HugoUncle Claude
The Hot PotatoKenny Smith
Great ExpectationsAbel MagwitchTV series
2012Elfie HopkinsButcher BrynCameo role
Snow White and the HuntsmanGortHead only
The SweeneyJack Regan
Run for Your WifeCameo roleUncredited
2013Ford Mondeo Promo VideoFord Motor Co
2014Lords of LondonTerry Lordaka Lost in Italy
MoonfleetElzevir BlockTV miniseries
2015The GunmanStanley
The Legend of Barney ThomsonHoldall
Point BreakAngelo Pappas
The Trials of Jimmy RoseJimmy RoseTV series
ZipperNigel Coaker
2016Of Kings and ProphetsSaulTV series
2016–2018 Ice Cam Rose TV series
2017JawboneWilliam Carney
2018King of ThievesDanny Jones
2019The Queen's CorgiTysonVoice only
2020Black WidowTBAPost-production


  1. "Ray Winstone Biography (1957–)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  2. Ebert, Roger. "The Proposition Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com.
  3. Winstone Biography accessed 10 May 2007
  4. "Culture, Arts and Entertainment". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  5. http://www.timedetectives.co.uk/doc/WinstoneFamilyReport.pdf
  6. "Ray Winstone - BoxRec". boxrec.com.
  7. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-departed-2007
  8. "Ray to star in Sweeney movie". The Sun. London. 15 February 2008.
  9. Michael Fleming (12 September 2008). "Winstone replaces De Niro in 'Edge'". Variety. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
  10. "Synopsis and Art Work: Red Snow". DreadCentral. 21 June 2012.
  11. "Ray Winstone calls Scots 'tramps' on TV quiz show". The Scotsman. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  12. "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.
  13. "Bankruptcy Order". p. 11720.
  14. "Bankruptcy Order". p. 5854.
  15. "Brexit: Actor Ray Winstone warns of 'rebellion'". BBC News. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
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