Ray Winstone talks about his new film

SINCE he emerged to great acclaim in Alan Clarke s Scum 30 years ago, Ray Winstone has become one of Britain s busiest and most popular screen actors. In his new film, 44 Inch Chest (18), he plays Colin, pictured, whose life is turned upside down when hi

SINCE he emerged to great acclaim in Alan Clarke's Scum 30 years ago, Ray Winstone has become one of Britain's busiest and most popular screen actors.

In his new film, 44 Inch Chest (18), he plays Colin, pictured, whose life is turned upside down when his wife Liz reveals that she is leaving him for her young lover.

He reacts violently, and his close friends (played by Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane) rally round to offer their support and help him take revenge by kidnapping the lover.

Winstone, now 52, lived in Caistor Park Road, Plaistow, and went to Portway School, Stratford Road, Plaistow, until he was seven and the family moved to Enfield.

He landed his first major acting role in What a Crazy World at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Here he talks about the new film:

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How long have you been connected with 44 Inch Chest?

"I was aware of the script about seven or eight years ago, after Sexy Beast because it's by the same writers, Louis Mellis and David Scinto.

"I love their writing, so I got hold of it and read it. We knew it was going to be a very difficult film to make because it feels like a stage play in some ways.

"That's where director Malcolm Venville came in. "

The story unfolds in one dingy room with this group of guys goading each other on to do something nasty to Loverboy.

"It's very difficult to stage that. How many times can you move people around a room without it feeling like you're looking out front and staging a play? But I think Malcolm achieved it with his vision and his eye for film."

Did you enjoy your role as producer?

"Not really. I'm an executive producer, which means you don't get paid, basically. But I'm very proud to be associated with this kind of film.

"To be a part of it from the beginning, that's an accolade that me and Ian McShane deserve. So that's OK, I can live with that."

Did you quickly settle on the actors that you ended up with?

"There were a lot of people approached to play these parts. Some read the script and didn't get it, or didn't like it. They didn't like the language, for whatever reasons, and that's fine as well.

"My dad would probably say 'what do I want to go to the cinema and listen to swearing for?'.

"I think the film's got a lot more in it than that, that just happens to be the way people speak in certain places."

Was it intense for you, playing a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown?

"I kind of enjoy being intense because I'm not that intense when I'm not working. Of course it was tiring. By the time I finished I was completely shattered, but that's only for a couple of days.

"Whenever you finish a job and your holiday's about to start your body knows it and turns off for a while."

Does it seem curious to you now that you're able to use your name to help get films like this made?

"Getting a film like Scum, when I was 17 or 18, I didn't even understand what it was. I was playing this geezer in a film. I had no idea, no concept of that or where it would take me.

"I'd have loved it, loved to have been a film actor, but people like me didn't do that."

Did you not even take someone like Michael Caine as your example?

"He was a great influence, I love Michael Caine. And then later on Bob Hoskins and all that. But I never put myself into that bracket because they were real actors, proper actors, good actors. I never saw myself as that because I suppose it was all a little bit of a game."

How does Hollywood regard you, do you think?

"A little fat geezer from the East End! I don't know, I get a really good reception there.

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