Tough at the top
“Yeah, after Scum came out, the British film industry essentially collapsed,” he says. “It was quiet for a long while. Things didn’t really change until Nil by Mouth. That put me back in the game.”
Where did that cruel, violent character come from? Did such a person lurk in his past?
“You know, it’s all really from Gary’s past. We’re from the same place. There is a river between our areas. But it’s still the same place. I guess I’ve seen those guys, but I wouldn’t put my finger on any particular person. It’s about uneducated people who haven’t got a way of expressing themselves. And because they can’t express themselves, they become violent.”
It seems as if Ray’s own home life has been – by the standards of this business – remarkably stable. He has been married to the same woman, Elaine, for well over 30 years. They have never even contemplated leaving the old smoke. Unless he really is intending to buy those boats, money cannot be in short supply. In the past few years, he’s appeared in Scorsese’s Hugo, the remake of The Sweeney, the smash Snow White and the Huntsman and, as Margwitch in the recent TV version of Great Expectations.
I suspect that living with Ray Winstone is not as difficult as he’d like to pretend. He seems like a man who values family. Mention of his actor daughter, Jaime Winstone, recently interviewed in these pages, triggers a warm, affectionate burr.
“Oh, she’s a good girl,” he says. “They’re quite independent, my girls. You either go along with them or you argue all day long. I would have been happy if she’d done anything else. But you support them.”
What of the indomitable, Elaine? She must be a patient woman.
“Oh no. I wouldn’t say that,” he chortles. “Show me a woman that is. They’re the bosses. Aren’t they? They run it all. Well, she’d have to be fairly patient with me. But I am very good to her – I very rarely go home.”
I don’t believe it for a moment.
The Foyle Film Festival runs until Sunday November 25th