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BOOK REVIEW: Young Winstone by Ray Winstone

| 26 March 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Young Winstone by Ray Winstone

Allen & Unwin
November 2014
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Entertainment Biography


Young Winstone book cover by Ray Winstone

Ray Winstone, celebrated actor from the movies Scum, Sexy Beast, Nil By Mouth and more, tells the story of his youth (‘Young Winstone’ – geddit?) by telling of the importance to him of a dozen or so locations around the East of London that were pivotal in making him the charismatic geezer that he is today, in his late 50’s.

Herein you’ll find all the pieces tat would inform his famous on-screen characterisations, and how they fit together to make the man he his.

There’s his humble beginnings, his slightly dodgy blagger father (who at one point worked for the infamous Kray brothers), Winstone’s own near-descent into juvenile delinquency, his celebrated boxing career (80 wins from 88 bouts, and three-times London schoolboy boxing champ) which taught him discipline and self-confidence and amusingly set him on his acting career quite by accident, not to mention a myriad of characters around him.

It wasn’t all shady deals though – Winstone focussed and applied himself on training for the ring and working for his Dad on market stalls after the elder Winstone got out of the minor crim business.

No good at school, Winstone gave drama school a shot before being asked to leave, and had given up the idea of an acting career by the time he accompanied a friend to an audition for the movie Scum and was cast in the lead role.

Young Winstone gives fans of the man and students of his career alike an open window to study the inspirations behind his performance in that and his other great roles, and however brutal those characters may have been, Winstone’s mastery is in always managing to imbue them with a completely believable humanity.

Ghost writer Ben Thompson wisely retains the actor’s cheeky, charismatic, East London chancer’s voice, including leaving the slight hint of the chip-on-shoulder menace which he was imbued with as a kid. Winstone’s come a long way from there, but it’s still there in his eyes and in his voice – when he plays a hard man, you know that roughneck is in him and you’re wise to not cross him.

The key to any biography’s success is hearing the words jump off the page in the subject’s voice, and in that way and the unique delivery of this always-fascinating story, Young Winstone is a complete success.

Category: Book Reviews

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