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Ray Winstone   ('Indiana Jones & Crystal Skull') Ray Winstone ('Indiana Jones & Crystal Skull')

'Whipped Into Shape!'

RAY WINSTONE has carved out a reputation as a real movie hardman. But after his latest role, in the upcoming Indiana Jones comeback, it seems Brit Ray, 51, fancies himself as an action hero. And taking his lead from Indy star Harrison Ford, he would do it right up to when he is old enough to draw his old age pension.

Chatting one-on-one with the hardman himself, he first explains at what stage in life he would even consider retiring. "I’d have a crack at being an action hero at 65, without a shadow of a doubt . . . bring it on baby. On this film I found out I am quite an action man really. I did all the stunts I could, you have to really or else you might as well get a stunt man to do the acting too. I was like a 51-year-old kid."

Despite his macho boasts, Ray’s heroics didn’t go completely to plan. He admits: “I pulled a hamstring. I jumped down these steps and as I was in mid-air, I felt it go! The director, Steven Spielberg, has a brilliant picture of my face. I worked through it but the next day I couldn’t do a stunt where I had to run down a moving staircase 150ft up. I’m really scared of heights so I was secretly quite pleased about that."

“I would never have seen myself in an Indiana Jones film. But when I saw the script I liked the way they had gone about it – and Steven Spielberg ain’t gonna make a bad film is he?”

In Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Ray plays Mac, a friend and competitor of adventurer Indy. “I think Mac is confused but overall he is a goody. But then again, I always think my characters are,” says Ray. “The film is set in 1957, the year I was born. I grew up in the East End of London and the aftermath of the Second World War was always in the background. Twenty years after the war Britain was paying to rebuild Germany but we were still playing among rubble in bombed-out houses. I had all those memories in my head when I was making this film.”

“He’s a really good geezer, a proper bloke, he drives a car like a stunt man and you can go out for a few beers with him after work, I liked him a hell of a lot. I usually find the big, big stars are great, they are secure in themselves. It is the ones who haven’t quite got there yet that can be the ar*eholes who complain their trailer isn’t big enough."

"I didn’t like Jack Nicholson at first. I find veteran actors have this sort of persona around them where people feel they can’t talk to them. But once I got past all that and eventually got talking to Jack I grew to really like him, he was as good as gold.”

Ray’s career has been so buoyant he even turned down a role in Harry Potter! "Yeah, I nearly did a movie. They earn fortunes from those films but for the time that is involved in making one they don’t want to pay you. I’m sorry, but I make movies to get a living. Besides, I could have made two films in the time it would have taken to make one Potter movie.”

He also made the tough decision to turn down a role in forthcoming Vietnam war story Pinkville, as he wanted to spend time with his daughter Ellie, six. “It is an Oliver Stone movie and a good part so it was tough to turn down. But I was tired after doing Indiana and I don’t think I could have done it justice. I wanted to come home for Christmas and have a few months off. I love work but I wanted time with my little girl. She doesn’t want to come away on set any more because she has her mates and her life at home.”

Ray’s three daughters with wife Elaine, who he met in 1979, are the only subject he discusses with more passion than his beloved West Ham United. Lois, 25, and Jaime, 23, are budding actresses. Jaime has become a regular on the party circuit with boyfriend Alfie Allen, 21, singer Lily’s younger brother. Alfie, who recently took over from Daniel Radcliffe in stage play Equus, can sleep easy at night as he seems to have fearsome Ray’s seal of approval. “Alfie’s a lovely kid and he’s doing blinding at the moment.”

But the familiar Winstone menace returns when I ask how he feels when he sees pictures of Jaime out on the tiles. "I tell her not to go where photographers hang around. A lot of these kids court the attention but I know she doesn’t. There was a picture the other day of her coming out of some place looking p***ed. As her dad it gives me the right zig, I am sometimes tempted to do a bit of damage. I sometimes feel like going down there and f***ing ironing these geezers out. Picking on my baby is a big mistake.”

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