He's been on screen for half his life, but it's only with Gary Oldman's Nil By Mouth that RAY WINSTONE comes into his own. Words: Alan Morrison
Ray Winstone. he‘s the genuine article. That gruff Cockney accent isn’t an affectation, the man was born in Hackney. That powerful build isn’t the result of days in the gym with a personal trainer, but years of hard graft as an amateur boxer who lost only eight out of 88 fights. And yet there’s not an ounce of aggression in the air around him. Ray Winstone in the flesh — at least the 1997 model — is relaxed and happy with his lot.
Much of his present contentment comes from the response to his heavyweight role in Nil By Mouth. actor- turned-director Gary Oldman‘s brutally honest tale of domestic violence and alcoholism in South London. Winstone totally dominates the movie. his presence filling the frame and spilling out into the first couple of rows of the cinema. And it‘s not just critical acclaim that sets Winstone at ease with himself. it’s the sense that he‘s laid something within himself to rest by playing such a violent monster.
‘Yeah. I can’t say whether or not making the film was therapy for Gary,‘ he says, referring to Oldman’s claims that his work is semi-autobiographical. ‘but it’s done wonders for me.’
This lightened-up attitude helped him take on a rare romantic comedy role in Sea Change. shot in Spain earlier this year. Before that, though, he was
'There's people in the East End of London who have never been to Picadilly Circus, far less abroad, and they really think this is what goes on in everyone's house.’ Ray Winstone
Violent life: Ray Winstone in Nil By Mouth
back in tough guy mode in London gangster movie Face. and at the moment he’s shooting in the Isle of Man. holding Twin Paula‘s Sherilyn Fenn hostage in the thriller Dangerous Obsession.
This hard-edged stuff is the Ray Winstone we all know and fear — the guy who knocked seven shades of shit out of Phil Daniels in Alan Clarke’s seminal borstal drama. Scum. made when the 40-year-old actor was a strappling of 20. Before Nil By Mouth, he‘d played a wife-beater in Ladybird Ladybird. although what counted there was providing a threat of menace rather than exploring the deeper motivations of domestic violence. as he does in Oldman’s movie. His character deals out some devastating abuse not only to his wife. but also to himself. and Winstone believes such episodes are shockingly common.
‘There‘s people in the East End of London who have never been to Picadilly Circus. far less abroad.’ he says. ‘and they really think this is what goes on in everyone‘s house. You see them down the pub. women with black eyes and bruises on their faces. joking with their mates and their husbands -— “He gave me a right knock the other night. didn't ya. ya buggefi‘
Winstone reckons that the most devastating scene in the film — where his character plays football with his wife‘s body - was one of the easiest to do because actress Kathy Burke is an old friend and ‘there was a lot of trust there, which helped me’. He‘s more pleased than anyone about her Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.
‘l was supposed to take her for lunch that Sunday. but I was playing footie instead and cancelled on her.‘ he remembers. ‘Then I saw the telly that night and. bloody hell. there she was with the award thing. Next day she phones me and says. “Ray. d‘you see me on telly then‘.’". “Yeah. good on you girl.“ So she says. “Know what? Fuck your dinner" and slams down the phone!’.
Nil By Mouth opens on Fri 10 Oct. See review.
The column that loves it when the lights go down.
GLASGOW HAS YET another cinema to add to its burgeoning number of screens. The latest addition comes courtesy of Glasgow University's custom-refurbished premises for its Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at the Gilmorehill Centre on University Avenue.
The Andrew Stewart Cinema seats 140 people and has been open to the public since its opening screening of Pusher on Wed 8 Oct. Weekend evening programmes will be presented in conjunction with the Glasgow Film Theatre, and upcoming titles include Gnosse Pointe Blank, Jour De Féte and Big Night.
While another West End cinema is certainly something to celebrate, the mood was dampened somewhat by murmurings from the ABC Film Centre in Sauchiehall Street of possible closure due to stiff competition from the numerous multiplexes that have opened across the city during the past two years. With a Warner SOOO-plus complex mooted for beside the St Enoch Centre, perhaps it's time to admit Glasgow has reached saturation point.
THE GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL now in its third year, showcases seven works from throughout the 90s at the GFT and Edinburgh Filmhouse Wed 15-Wed 22 Oct. Germany hasn't had great critical success with its cinematic output in recent years, but this selection - made with the knowledgeable eye of the Glasgow- based Goethe lnstitut - does allow Scottish audiences a unique opportunity to see a wide range of work that otherwise would never make it into the UK distribution system.
Guests include director Gordian Maugg (discussing his culture shock comedy The Caucasian Night) and filmmaking duo Barbara and Winifried lunge, whose Marieluise From Golzow is part of an ambitious, ongoing documentary series. See Listings and Index for details.
John Cusack stars in Grosse Pointe Blank at the new Gilmorehill Centre
10 Oct—23 Oct 1997 THE LIST 25