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Interview: 'The Sweeney' Star Ray Winstone Talks Rappers, Filming Aronofsky's 'Noah' & How Much Fun He Had On 'Indiana Jones'

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist March 2, 2013 at 1:20PM

Ray Winstone is one of those brilliant actors who has a chameleonic ability to totally lose himself in his characters (whether it’s the retired thief in Jonathan Glazer’s brilliant “Sexy Beast” or the Bostonian gangster in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed”), while remaining 100% Winstonian. In his new film, “The Sweeney,” an adaptation of a hugely influential '70s British cop series, Winstone plays Jack Regan, a morally nebulous leader of a crack crime force. We got to talk to the actor about adapting such an iconic series, what it was like working with British rapper Plan B, and how he goes about choosing his roles. We also bugged him about motion capture animation, the fate of Nick Cave’s “The Death of Bunny Munro,” what “Noah” was like, and if he had any dirt on filming the infamous “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (yes he was in that).

The Sweeney, Ray Winstone, Plan B
You recently filmed “Noah” with Darren Aronofsky.
Yeah, I play Tubal-Cain, and we shot it in Long Island and I think we made a really good film. Russell Crowe was a pleasure to work with and Aronofsky was great to work with as well. I was lucky enough to be on that little film. I enjoyed every moment of it.

"Harrison Ford was great. He’s a cowboy. He’s from Montana. He’s got a human way about him."
Have you seen any of it yet?
No. It’s going to take about a year to edit and put everything in. I’m sure by the time I’ve forgotten all about it, I’ll be called in to do some ADR work on it.

Are you still attached to “The Death of Bunny Munro?” I know it’s kind of moved from film to television.
Yeah I’m still talking to John Hillcoat and Nick Cave. It’s something I’ve been looking at for about five years. It’s a really dark piece and I’m not getting any younger and I think it’s just about fine-tuning. Johnny ain’t got time to direct it at the moment and he’s off doing other things so we’ve got to find another director. I think it’s a great piece of work. When I worked with Nick Cave on “The Proposition,” I thought, "Well this is good but let’s see what the next one looks like." And he’s one of these guys who keeps getting better and better and better. This guy can really write. So that’s something I’d like to do in the next couple of years.

You were one of the first actors to do motion capture with “Beowulf.” What was that experience like and would you ever do it again?
It was one of the best experiences of my life. When you are doing a scene with Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovich, it’s much more like theater than film. It’s not like a typical animated film – physically, every move is captured with something like twenty cameras. Your mid-shot, your close up and wide shots are all in one. It took six weeks to shoot and about two years to put it together. It was a great experience – it’s just playing it out.

Plan B, Ben Drew, The Sweeney
With “Rango” you did something like that too, right?
Yeah, we played it out. I just had a little bit in that one. You know – you do your bit and away you go. But I loved working with Johnny Depp. He’s a good boy. He’s a great fucking talent. Whatever you watch him in, it doesn’t matter, you just love watching him.

And just before we go – what was working on 'Indiana Jones' like?
'Indiana Jones' was a great experience. Working with Spielberg was great – he does each film differently and when he does 'Indiana Jones,' the camera moves a certain way to take you into the next scene and all that. And working with Harrison Ford was great. He’s a cowboy. He’s from Montana. He’s got a human way about him – and he’s one of the best fucking actors around. You see him with a whip and he really does it. It was great to sit in his Winnebago and chew the fat and have a nice proper whisky. It was lovely.

So you had a great time on it?
Listen, you’re doing what you love and having a great time doing it. There are moments on films where you go, “Oh fuck this I can’t do this no more.” But I’ve got to be honest with you – we do it because we love it.

"The Sweeney" is in theaters now.

This article is related to: Ray Winstone, The Sweeney, Noah, Plan B, Ben Drew, Nick Love, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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