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

(1957-02-19) 19 February 1957 (age 64)
London, England
Years active1976–present
Elaine McCausland
(m. 1979)
Children3, including Lois and Jaime

Raymond Andrew Winstone (/ˈwɪnstən/;[2] born 19 February 1957) is an English actor with a career spanning five decades. Having worked with many prominent directors, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, Winstone is best known for his "hard man" roles (usually delivered in his distinctive London accent). The first of these was the character Carlin in Scum, the 1979 film remake of a BBC television play in which Winstone had originated the role, and which was not broadcast due to its violent nature. The same year he played ex-army soldier Kevin in the cult classic Quadrophenia. In the 1980s he rose to prominence starring as Will Scarlet in the successful television series Robin of Sherwood.

Winstone has been described as one of the UK's "seminal screen hard nuts",[3] while The Guardian has said that he "plays troubled hard men with such conviction, it's easy to believe he's not acting", adding that he is "the East End's answer to George Clooney".[4] He has appeared in a wide variety of feature films, including Nil by Mouth (1997), Love, Honour and Obey (2000), Ripley's Game (2002), The Magic Roundabout (2005), Beowulf (2007), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), 44 Inch Chest (2009), London Boulevard (2010), Hugo (2011), Point Break (2015), Cats (2019) and Black Widow (2021).

Early life

Winstone was born on 19 February 1957 in Hackney Hospital, London.[5][6] 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.[7] His father, Raymond J. Winstone (1933–2015), ran a fruit and vegetable business[8] while his mother, Margaret (née Richardson; 1932–1985) had a job emptying fruit machines. Winstone has recounted how, as a child, he used to play with his friends on bomb sites (vacant lots with rubble from World War II bombs).[9] He joined Brimsdown Primary School and later 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.[10] He recounted an early encounter with a notorious gangster:

"I was still a baby the day Ronnie Kray came round to see Dad, but I've been told this story so many times I can see it unfolding in my mind. Everyone was on their best behaviour, but then Ronnie picked me up, and by all accounts I pissed all over him. He had a new mac on, which had probably cost a few bob, and I absolutely covered it. The room fell silent, then Ronnie cracked up, so everyone knew it was safe to join in."[9]

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."[11]


Deciding to pursue drama, Winstone enrolled at the Corona Stage Academy in Hammersmith, when he was aged "about seventeen".[12][13][9] 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 in London, but he danced and sang badly, leading his usually supportive father to say "Give it up, while you're ahead."[14] 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" (as he was in "What a Crazy World") 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. When he discovered that he was the only pupil not invited to the Christmas party he 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 which he was expelled.[15] 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, including Winstone. In a 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.[16]

While Winstone has portrayed many characters who share the "hard man" nature of his performance in Scum, he has also explored a variety of other roles, including comedy (Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence) and as the romantic lead (Fanny and Elvis). His favourite role was Henry VIII in the 2003 TV serial of the same name, remarking at the time: "It's really flattering for me to be asked to play a king. I mean, I'm a kid out of Plaistow, and I'm playing one of the most famous kings of England. It's fantastic!"[17]


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1970s and 1980s

After a short run in the TV series Fox (1980), and a role in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982), alongside Diane Lane, Laura Dern, and a host of real life punks like Fee Waybill, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and Paul Simonon, Winstone starred in the opening episode of the third season of Bergerac (1983), quickly followed by another big break, when he was cast as Will Scarlet in Robin of Sherwood (which began in 1984). He proved immensely popular and enjoyed the role, considering Scarlet to be "the first football hooligan" – although he was reportedly not fond of the dubbed German version. When the series ended, he again teamed up with Jason Connery when they co-starred in Tank Malling, which also featured Amanda Donohoe and Maria Whittaker. 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, ‘’Home To Roost, (Se4, Ep6)’’, 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 and 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. Fuqua lauded his performance proclaiming he was "the British De Niro". Winstone 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. In 2006, American critic Roger Ebert described Winstone as "one of the best actors now at work in movies".[18]

A complete change of pace for Winstone was when he provided 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".[19]

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.

2010 to present

Winstone next starred as Arjan van Diemen in the film Tracker with Temuera Morrison[20] He had a role as CIA agent Darius Jedburgh in the Edge of Darkness remake, replacing Robert De Niro.[21] In 2012, Winstone played the role of Detective Inspector Jack Regan in a remake of The Sweeney (having had a minor role in the original series). Winstone also starred in the slasher-thriller film Red Snow, directed by Stuart St. Paul and based on a short film by Adam Mason.[22]

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.[23] 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.[24][9] They have three daughters; the eldest two, Lois and Jaime, are both actresses. Winstone lives with his wife in Roydon, Essex.[9][10]

He is an avid fan of West Ham United and promoted their 2009 home kit.[25]

Winstone was declared bankrupt on 4 October 1988[26] and again on 19 March 1993.[27]

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."[28]



Year Title Role Notes
1979 That Summer Steve Brodie Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
Scum Carlin
Quadrophenia Kevin Herriot
1981 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains Billy
1989 Tank Malling John 'Tank' Malling
1994 Ladybird, Ladybird Simon
1997 Nil by Mouth Ray British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Face Dave
1998 Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence Pederesen
Final Cut Ray
Brand New World Colonel
1999 Darkness Falls John Barrett
The War Zone Dad Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—European Film Award for Best Actor
2000 There's Only One Jimmy Grimble Harry
Sexy Beast Gary 'Gal' Dove
Love, Honour and Obey Ray Kreed
2001 Last Orders Vince Dodds Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
The Martins Mr. Marvel
2002 Ripley's Game Reeves
2003 Cold Mountain Teague
2004 Everything Richard
King Arthur Bors
2005 The Proposition Captain Stanley San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Magic Roundabout Soldier Sam Voice role
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Mr. Beaver Voice role
2006 The Departed Arnold French
Breaking and Entering Bruno Fella
Sweeny Todd Sweeney Todd
2007 Beowulf Beowulf / Dragon Voice and motion capture performance
2008 Fool's Gold Moe Fitch
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull George 'Mac' MicHale
Compulsion Don Flowers
2009 The Devil's Tomb Blakely
44 Inch Chest Colin Diamond
Fathers of Girls Frank Horner
2010 Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll William Dury
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Ares Uncredited
Edge of Darkness Captain Darius Jedburgh
13 Ronald Lynn
London Boulevard Gant
Tracker Arjan Van Diemen
2011 Rango Bad Bill Voice role
Hugo Uncle Claude
The Hot Potato Kenny Smith
2012 Elfie Hopkins Butcher Bryn
Snow White and the Huntsman Gort
The Sweeney Jack Regan
Ashes Frank
2014 Noah Tubal-cain
2015 The Gunman Stanley
The Legend of Barney Thomson Holdall
Point Break FBI Agent Angelo Pappas
Zipper Nigel Coaker
2017 Jawbone William Carney
2018 King of Thieves Danny Jones
2019 The Queen's Corgi Tyson Voice role
Cats Growltiger
2021 Black Widow Ivan Dreykov
TBA Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher


Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Sweeney 2nd Youth 1 episode
1977 Scum Carlin Television film
1983 Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Colin 1 episode
1984–1986 Robin of Sherwood Will Scarlet Main role, 24 episodes
1984–1989 Minder Arnie 4 episodes
1986 Ever Decreasing Circles Harold 1 episode
1996 One Foot in the Grave Vagrant / Millichope 1 episode
2000–2002 Lenny Blue DC Lenny Milton Main role, 4 episodes
2003 Henry VIII King Henry VIII 2 episodes
2004 She's Gone Harry Sands Television film
2005–2006 Vincent Vincent Gallagher Main role, 8 episodes
2006 All in the Game Frankie Television film
2010 Ben Hur Quintus Arrius Miniseries, 2 episodes
2011 Great Expectations Abel Magwitch Miniseries, 3 episodes
2013 Moonfleet Elzevir Block Miniseries, 2 episodes
2015 The Trials of Jimmy Rose Jimmy Rose Main role, 3 episode
2016 Of Kings and Prophets Saul Main role, 9 episodes
2016–2018 Ice Cam Rose Main role, 20 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Killzone 3 Admiral Orlock Also motion capture performance


  1. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, Jul-Aug-Sep 1979, volume 39, page 1352
  2. ^ "Ray Winstone Biography (1957–)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  3. ^ "A gangster king thing". The Independent. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  4. ^ "A gangster king thing". The Independent. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  5. ^ Winstone Biography accessed 10 May 2007
  6. ^ "Ray Winstone Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Ray Winstone". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Culture, Arts and Entertainment". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. Archived from the original on 6 December 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e Wintle, Interview by Angela. "Time and place: Ray Winstone".
  10. ^ a b "Ray Winstone: 'I used to be a raving lunatic'". the Guardian. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Ray Winstone". boxrec.com.
  12. ^ "Ray Winstone: 'I used to be a raving lunatic'". the Guardian. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  13. ^ "Q&A with actor Ray Winstone". Financial Times. 12 May 2017.
  14. ^ "What a Crazy World".
  15. ^ "Ray Winstone: 'I used to be a raving lunatic'". the Guardian. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Scum - Indicator Blu-Ray Review". 18 June 2019.
  17. ^ "A gangster king thing". 2 October 2013.
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Proposition Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com.
  19. ^ Roger Ebert review, The Departed
  20. ^ "Ray Winstone".
  21. ^ Michael Fleming (12 September 2008). "Winstone replaces De Niro in 'Edge'". Variety. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
  22. ^ "Synopsis and Art Work: Red Snow". DreadCentral. 21 June 2012.
  23. ^ "Ray Winstone calls Scots 'tramps' on TV quiz show". The Scotsman. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Ray Winstone: 'I used to be a raving lunatic'". the Guardian. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ "Bankruptcy Order". p. 11720.
  27. ^ "Bankruptcy Order". p. 5854.
  28. ^ "Brexit: Actor Ray Winstone warns of 'rebellion'". BBC News. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2019.