Ray Winstone Interview

from FHM magazine October 1999

Photography by Hugo Dixon.

Interview by Richard Galpin © FHM Magazine October 1999

Ray Winstone photo by Hugo DixonRAY WINSTONE:

The big-screen hard man on archery, po-going and Christmas on tape.


A large part of your new movie, Final Cut, is filmed on a camcorder. Do you bore the crap out of relatives with your home movies?
Yeah, I've got a camcorder. I'm the only one in my family who's never on tape because I'm always the one holding the camera. All you can hear is me whistling. Every Christmas the kids can't come downstairs to open their presents until the camera's been set. It's ridiculous. I've got 17 Christmases on tape, all of them the same.

You've got two teenage daughters, Lois and Jaime. Are you the sort of dad who gives prospective boyfriends a hard time?
No. My Lois has got a boyfriend at the moment: he's got an eyebrow ring and he's into all that music. Every time he comes round I want to scrub him and buy him a bar of soap. And Jaime has boys starting to knock on our door. I'm like, "Yeah, what do you want?" They're terrified.

Is it true that you were thrown out of drama school?
Yeah. I sabotaged the headmistress's car. She was always having a pop at me, so I put tacks under her tyres. I was asked to leave the premises. The only thing I picked up at drama school was how to conduct myself at parties: be first there and last to leave.

Did you also have to learn the gift of dance?
There were ballet classes and you had to get all this leotard gear so you could learn movement. I just turned up with a pair of Doc Marten's. I'm a terrible dancer, I'm like a lump of wood. The only thing I can do is the pogo - where you jump and spit! I could never see the point in getting yourself all done up, going out, then flogging yourself to death dancing in a club. By the end of the night you're sweating your nuts off trying to pull a girl, but chucking your guts up with these huge sweat patches under your arms.

You've been in some really bad TV shows. What's the worst role you've ever taken?
It was in this sci-fi programme, Space Precinct. I was out of work, it was coming up to Christmas, and I got five grand to play this space pirate. It was the most ridiculous show I'd ever worked on. These poor bastards had to wear huge alien rubber masks all day long. You'd see them start to wobble, then take bets on who'd faint first.

You also played Will Scarlet in the TV series Robin of Sherwood. Are you now a dab hand with a bow and arrow?
Yeah, I can shoot an arrow. Once we were in Rickmansworth doing some publicity for the programme. They set up this camera 100 yards away, next to an archery target. I told Mark Ryan - he played the Saracen, Nasir - to aim for the camera because there was no way we were going to hit it. I shot my arrow and it went straight down the lens and caused 70 grand's worth of damage. As it hit the camera I turned and went, "Mark! What have you done?" It was quite a bloody show for teatime… In the first episode I was only supposed to kill 12 Normans, but I ended up killing 45. There were complaints that Will Scarlet was too violent.

You were an amateur boxer in the East End, only losing eight of your 88 fights. But what was the worst pummelling you received?
The only time I really got hit was when I boxed against this southpaw - a left-hander. I kept walking into his fist. I couldn't work out how he kept hitting me. But I never got as much as broken nose. My whole thing was, if they don't hit you and you hit them once, you've won the fight.

When you went from boxing to acting, did all your friends think you'd gone soft?
No! I just didn't want to be a fighter. Anyway, boxing is similar to acting - you're still in front of a crowd. The only difference is that if you do something wrong in boxing you get punched, while if you do something wrong on stage you get booed. I preferred to get booed.

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