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Ray Winstone: The Biography

Updated on March 22, 2010

For many Ray Winstone is the Ultimate British hardman, the London boy who is often seen playing tough guys both in the movies and on TV. But there is another side to Winstone, the proudly British father who loves his country nearly as much he loves his family. I was hoping that "Ray Winstone: The Biography" written by Nigel Goodall would build upon this, delving into Winstone away from the camera, his childhood, his time growing up and breaking into the movies, giving a true insight to this great British actor. But whilst it does delve into all of this it at time seems more like an in-depth into the movies and TV shows he's been in rather than a biography about him, as it goes into incredible depth about the numerous shows and movies he's been in.

As with many biographies "Ray Winstone: The Biography" is for most a chronological look at Winstone's life and career, with only the opening chapter being out of place, delivering an insight into where Winstone was, career wise, when this was written. What follows is at times a rather stilted look into Winstone's life growing up in the east end of London, his passion for football, his teenage years and then breaking into movies. I say stilted because whilst various elements are mentioned such as getting into trouble, his parent's working the markets and so on it lacks something which feels like you're really getting to know Winstone. It feels like he is holding back keeping much of his private life to himself which in some ways delivers that aspect of Winstone which I like, he feels that he is an average guy and as such doesn't feel that his personal life is of any major interest. That side definitely comes across and one thing is for certain that when you finish reading "Ray Winstone: The Biography" you fully understand how down to earth Ray is.

There are moments where Winstone does seem to open up and that is when he talks about his family, how he met his wife and the proud ness he is over his family. In many ways it is very touching as here you have this screen hardman enthusing about his wife and daughters. But again it delivers that average Joe element, that although he is proud it is no more than any father would be and in many ways it is touching that Winstone comes across so normal.

Away from the look of Winstone's personal life much of the book seems to be dedicated to looking at the films and shows that he has appeared in, often going into amazing depth about how they came about. Whilst much of it is interesting, such as the look at "Nil by Mouth" and "The War Zone" it does at times go on, stretching out chapters with information from other cast & crew discussing the movie rather than just Winstone's performance. As such it is a good read for someone who is a fan of movies in general, with the in-depth examinations, but for someone looking for a book more about Winstone may find it boring.

Some of the best moments in "Ray Winstone: The Biography" are when Ray discusses his feelings over many of the notorious roles he has performed in and those equally notorious scenes. It's quite revealing when Winstone discusses the scenes where he has portrayed a violent wife beater or when he had to act out raping a teenager. You get a real sense of how much he puts into each of the performances and how he manages to act with such visual ferocity but then walk away from it.

As a whole "Ray Winstone: The Biography" is not a bad book but in many ways I wished it had concentrated less on the in-depth look at his rise to fame in various movies and TV shows and instead gave us a more in-depth look at the man. Elements such as his financial difficulties early on are skimmed over as are many of the more personal elements and although I get a sense that Winstone is both a private man as well as one who feels his life is pretty average it would have been more fascinating to get a better look at Winstone's life away from the camera.

What is for certain from reading "Ray Winstone: The Biography" is that you get a sense of his pride, not only for everything British but also for his family which he obviously adores.


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