Being a “tough guy” is a natural thing for Ray Winstone, judging from the roles he has played on both television and film. The English actor is known for his portrayals in films such as Scum, King Arthur and Beowulf, and is also noted for his voice acting work.
Born in Hackney, England on February 19, 1957, Winstone was inclined into acting at an early age. His father would expose him to the films of his time. He was also inclined into boxing, fighting in amateur games through his teenage years and even fighting for England at one point. He appeared on stage in his early years, eventually studying drama at the Corona Stage Academy in Hammersmith. Ray Winstone’s first major stage role was in What A Crazy World. At the same time, he also appeared in a 1976 episode of The Sweeney, as an unnamed thug.
Expelled from school after he pulled a prank to take revenge from not being invited to a Christmas party, he got himself an audition at the BBC by flirting with the secretary. The flirting would get him places, as the director Alan Clarke was impressed by Winstone’s demeanor. He was eventually cast as the lead of Scum, a film about life in a young offender’s institution. The television movie was banned by the BBC after it was considering unsuitable for viewing, but was eventually re-filmed and released in theaters in 1979.
Ray Winstone’s career throughout the 1980s were mostly appearances in television series, such as guest appearances in Bergerac and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, and his big break of the time, his role as Will Scarlet in the series Robin of Sherwood. At the end of the decade, he went back to acting in theater, for plays such as Hinkemann in 1988 and Some Voices in 1994.
In 1997, Winstone was cast as an alcoholic wife-batterer in the drama Nil by Mouth. This role gave him a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor, and a British Independent Film Award in the same capacity. He continued playing tough-man roles in films like The War Zone, as well as roles that show his softer side in films such as There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble.
His performance in the 2000 film Sexy Beast got the attention of the American film industry. Roles in action movies followed, such as those for King Arthur, in 2004; The Departed, in 2006; Beowulf, in 2007; and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in 2008. Simultaneously, he continued acting for stage, and has also done voice work for children’s television program The Magic Roundabout and the 2005 fantasy The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.