Ray Winstone Biography


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Birth Name: Ray Winstone
Born: 02/19/1957
Birth Place: Hackney, England, GB


Born Feb. 19, 1957 in London, England, Winstone was an only child raised by his father, Raymond Sr., who ran a fruit and vegetable business, and mother, Margaret. At the time he attended Edmonton County School, Winstone began boxing for the Repton Amateur Boxing Club at 12, winning 80 out of 88 fights and becoming London schoolboy champion three times as a welterweight. But it was acting that truly occupied the lad's fascination - he began formal training at the Corona School in Hammersmith, but was duly expelled after a year for puncturing the tires on an instructor's car. His misfortune, however, quickly turned to favor when he was discovered by famed British television director Alan Clarke while accompanying a friend to an audition. Clarke saw something in his swagger and tapped Winstone to play a reform school inmate in the bleak prison drama, "Scum" (1977). Originally set to air on BBC, the made-for-television film was shelved by censors for its dark outlook and unflinching violence. After Clarke refashioned the material as a feature, "Scum" was released theatrically in United States in 1979, winning critical acclaim for Winstone's powerful performance, though American audiences had difficulty slicing through the British slang and thick accents.

Thanks to his compelling performance in "Scum," Winstone was hailed as the next big thing. He soon gained more exposure from a small role in "Quadrophenia" (1979), a musical based on The Who's album of the same name. Meanwhile, Winstone stayed visible with starring roles on British television and small parts in film, but for many years failed to capitalize on the promise displayed in his debut work. Following a leading role in the British series "Fox" (1980), he had a recurring part as a gangster in "A Fairly Secret Army" (1984), then played Will Scarlett in the adventure "Robin of Sherwood" (1984-86). By his own admission, throughout the 1980s, Winstone took on some poorly conceived roles and delivered uninspired performances. After a small part in the rather mundane crime drama, "Number One" (1984), Winstone struggled to find worthwhile roles, usually settling instead on unremarkable films and television shows that barely saw the light of day. By the time he starred in "Tank Malling" (1989), playing a tough-as-nails reporter who investigates corrupt police and politicians after being released from prison on trumped-up perjury charges, Winstone had declared bankruptcy and given up on his acting career.

In 1990, Winstone was coaxed out of his brief retirement by playwright Kathy Burke, who cast him in the title role of her play "Mr. Thomas," a part that earned him wide critical praise and restored his flagging confidence. Back in the saddle, Winstone had a supporting role in Ken Loach's emotionally raw "Ladybird, Ladybird" (1994), but saved his best for his next major role, playing a charming, but violent alcoholic in Gary Oldman's directorial debut, "Nil By Mouth" (1997). As an out-of-work husband who uses his pregnant wife (Kathy Burke) as a punching bag, his character was both despised and embraced by audiences, thanks to Winstone's powerfully nuanced performance that combined affable charm with frightening brutality. Though more praise was heaped on Burke, Winstone nonetheless established himself as a force to be reckoned with, earning a nomination for Best Actor at the 1997 BAFTA Awards. Following "Nil By Mouth," Winstone was featured in the crime thriller "Face" (1997), Antonia Bird's film chronicling a group of career criminals whose relationships become unraveled by a traitor in their midst. Starring opposite Robert Carlyle, Winstone played a small-time grifter with big-time plans who finds himself in a desperate situation, once again allowing the actor to make a pathetic, brutal character likable.

Now on the rise as a veteran actor, Winstone starred in "Our Boy" (1997), a heartrending tale that aired on British television and screened at film festivals. Winstone offered a moving performance as a grieving father utterly destroyed by his young son's accidental death. Other television projects of note included playing the slick, successful and calculating Alan in "Births, Marriages and Deaths" (BBC, 1999), a four-part miniseries that followed the goings-on of a stag party, which leads to the airing out of family secrets and scandals. Winstone continued to offer stirring performances in uncompromising roles, including his disturbing turn as a father who rapes his teenage daughter (Lara Belmont) in Tim Roth's brutal family drama, "The War Zone" (1999). A turn as a loan shark in "Agnes Browne" (1999), directed by and starring Anjelica Huston, was followed by a solid performance in the thriller "Dangerous Obsession" (1999), playing a rampaging intruder who has a personal stake in his captives. Continuing a busy year, Winstone displayed his rare lighter side in a supporting role in the romantic comedy, "The Very Thought of You"(1999), playing one of three Englishmen (including Joseph Finnes and Tom Hollander) trying to win the affections of a young American woman (Monica Potter).

Having re-established himself as an actor of note after a career that began with a bang, but ultimately faltered, Winston found himself in the enviable position of becoming a well-respected leading man in the middle part of his life. After a notable performance as a London crime boss in "Love, Honour and Obey" (2000), he essayed the role of Gal Dove, a former safecracker enjoying retirement in southern Spain with his ex-porn star wife (Amanda Redman) in "Sexy Beast" (2001). But when his old partner, the ferocious Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), shows up to pull him out of retirement, Dove finds himself locked in a battle of wills with a man determined to threaten, badger and bully him into submission. Though accolades and an Oscar nod were bestowed upon Kingsley for his barking mad performance, Winstone served as the perfect foil, playing off Kingsley's single-minded intensity with subtlety and nuance. After appearing as Michael Caine's foster son in "Last Orders" (2001), Winstone co-starred in "Ripley's Game" (2003), an unofficial sequel to "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999), playing an associate to the older, successful Tom Ripley (John Malkovich) who calls on his old friend for some homicidal help. The actor also had a plumb role in "Cold Mountain" (2003) as the villainous Teague, who plots to usurp the lands - and the hand of a woman (Nicole Kidman) tending her farm - of Confederate Army deserters.

In 2003, the actor starred as England's most powerful and independent monarch in "Henry VIII" (PBS, 2003), a British-made miniseries that focused on the king's reign and his six volatile marriages. Winstone proved to be an excellent choice for the role, not only because of his dynamic onscreen presence, but also for his striking resemblance to the famed monarch. Meanwhile, he returned to feature films with a supporting role in the more historically accurate, but ultimately uneven actioner, "King Arthur" (2004), starring Clive Owen as a Roman Cavalryman torn between religious devotion to Rome and loyalty to his native Britannia. Winstone played Bors, one of Arthur's determined, but conflicted knights, who helps try to unite a divided land amidst retreating Romans and invading Saxons. He next appeared in "The Proposition" (2005), a brutal western set in late-19th century Australia in which he portrayed a ruthless lawman who pits three notorious outlaw brothers against each other. Winstone was nominated for Best Actor at the 2005 Australian Film Industry Awards. In another rare turn for the actor, Winstone provided the voice of Mr. Beaver, one of several all-CGI characters in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (2005), the hugely successful big budget fantasy based on the C.S. Lewis novel series.

After voicing a character in the animated "Doogal" (2006), Winstone had a supporting role in "The Departed" (2006), Martin Scorsese's star-studded crime thriller about a cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) deep undercover inside a crime syndicate run by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), a Boston Irish mob boss who has one of his own (Matt Damon) undercover on the police force. As both institutions do battle to bring down the other side, the two moles struggle to reveal each other without having their own cover blown. Winstone played Costello's loyal right hand, Mr. French. Meanwhile, Winstone had a supporting role in "Breaking & Entering" (2006), an ensemble drama about a young Muslim man who breaks into the office of a yuppie architect in London and sets off a series of related events that intersect the two men's lives with the seedy inner-city area of Kings Cross. Then in "Beowulf" (2007), Winstone had the title role in the adaptation of the famed eighth century p m about a sixth century warrior who d s battle with a monster named Grendel. Following a supporting part in the forgettable romantic comedy "Fool's Gold" (2008), Winstone co-starred in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008), playing both friend and competitor of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford).

Working relentlessly, Winstone was most often seen in the genre that had become his cinematic bread and butter - the gritty crime drama. He starred as a jealous husband whose kidnapping of his wife's (Joanne Whalley) reputed lover takes a grim turn in "44 Inch Chest" (2009), then picked up a supporting turn as an assassin with a conscience opposite a vengeful Mel Gibson in the conspiracy thriller "Edge of Darkness" (2010). More U.K.-produced crime dramas like "13" (2010) and "London Boulevard" (2010) kept Winstone on screens throughout the remainder of the year. Putting his gravely East London accent to use once more, he voiced reptilian thug Bad Bill in Gore Verbinski's animated ode to the West, "Rango" (2011) and was seen in the flesh as the drunken lout, Uncle Claude, in Martin Scorsese's revered love-letter to silent film, "Hugo" (2011). Winstone then garnered raves on television for his nuanced portrayal of the kind-hearted convict, Magwitch, in the three-part miniseries adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" (PBS, 2012), prior to returning to theaters as Gort - one of eight very formidable dwarves - in the big-budget action-fairy tale "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012).




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