Henry VIII - Press Archive - I had to lose 2st to play Henry VIII
12 Oct 03
I had to lose 2st to play Henry VIII
Crowning glory ... Ray stars as Henry VIII
By CHRISTINE SMITH
MOVIE tough guy Ray Winstone is a big man
But he didnt realise how big until he had to LOSE weight to play
tubby Henry VIII.
Ray had to shed a massive 28lb and dye his hair red to play the portly
monarch in ITV1s lavish £6million, two-part drama, which starts tomorrow.
But there were compensations, such as starring with sultry Helena Bonham
Carter, who plays the second of the kings six wives, Anne Boleyn.
Ray, 46, says: Helena is a giggle and you can have a laugh with her on
set. That is important if youve got to snog all day!
He adds: Henry is a bit of a lost, troubled soul. He starts off with good
intentions, like a politician, but sells his soul and that is what screws him
He is a blinding person to play. He is a cross between Hugh Grant, as
a religious kind of man, a genuine man like Isaac Newton and, er ...
It was a demanding role, too, and Ray says he had to get into shape to
cope with the rigours of appearing in almost every scene.
As part of his fitness regime, Ray cut out snacking between scenes and
used a personal trainer. But the hardest sacrifice was restricting his
He says: I really had to cut down on my drinking. I do like my drink but
I feel so much fitter and better in myself now.
Although Ray enjoyed shooting the drama at Pinewood Studios in Bucks,
he says he definitely would not have enjoyed living in Tudor times.
He says: I would have been a right b*****d. There was no room for
In many ways, playing the notoriously unstable Henry dovetails nicely
with Rays role call a list of gangsters, vicious thugs, psychopaths,
wife-beaters and paedophiles.
He found fame in 1977 with Scum, playing a brutal borstal inmate.
He also played a man who raped his daughter in The War Zone and a
violent dad in Nil By Mouth.
Other credits include Sexy Beast, Last Orders, Tank Malling, Robin
Of Sherwood and Quadrophenia.
But if playing misfits and nutters is his job, his home life could not
be more normal.
Ray is happy to admit to being a real softie off screen and puts his
success down to his family wife Elaine and daughters Lois, 21,
who is also an actress, Jaime, 17, and three-year-old Ellie.
He says: I have been so lucky. I have a good woman and my girls
mean everything to me. They are my life. I dont know anything else
other than being in a house full of women.
But when it goes pear-shaped, I go down the pub and thats it!
One of his greatest pleasures was becoming a dad again at the age of
43, when Ellie came along.
He says: We had another baby because we missed having babies. Ellie is
fantastic. Youve done it all before and you are so chilled out. I think
being mellow comes with age.
Ray is happy to reveal his vulnerable side and and how moved he was by
the births of his children.
He says: You go through every emotion in the book when you have a
baby. The horror of it. You are laughing at the same time as being scared
and then you are crying. You love everyone. There is nothing else like it
in the world.
I do cry. I ... am an emotional person. I always cry at old films.
Ray and Elaine will soon celebrate their silver wedding.
They met when she was a designer for the movie That Summer 24 years
And he thinks the reason his marriage has lasted is because they see
each other as equals.
He says: There is no jealousy. You have your rows well you have to,
otherwise you cant have the fun of making up! But there is no point
sulking. Thats the end of it, forgotten about.
We have been married nearly 25 years and I suppose it is a massive
feat these days. But I dont understand why people stay in marriages
when they are unhappy and lead a pretty miserable life.
"Thankfully, I am happy. I suppose Im a romantic and I treat Elaine
when I can. I do think you make your own luck.
His happy life at home in Essex makes it doubly difficult to be away
on location for long periods.
He says: It is hard and as you get older, you really miss being around
the family. There is nothing else in the world that means more to me.
But Elaine comes and stays with me when she can during filming.
Ray is baffled that women see him as a sex symbol.
He says: Its very flattering. My wife just thinks it is a laugh. She has to
look at me when I wake up in the morning!
Ray has carved an international reputation as an actor and can pick
the roles he wants.
But for years he thought his career was on the skids.
Brought up in Plaistow, East London, he enjoyed success in his youth as
an amateur boxer.
His dream of becoming an actor came true when he landed a role in TV
cop show The Sweeney in 1975, before starring in Scum.
But his career then took a nosedive for years when he only did odd roles while working as a porter at Spitalfields market in London.
Things didnt look up until the late Nineties when pal Kathy Burke offered
him the lead in a stage play.
Since then he has not looked back. He loves acting because it is a great
form of therapy
He says: You get it out your system.
His most recent dose of therapy was in Cold Mountain, with Jude Law and
Despite his busy schedule, Ray insists he is not a workaholic and finds
it easy to switch off at home, where he loves to spend time with family,
support West Ham and go to the pub with pals.
He says: I dont know what a mid-life crisis is. I dont think, God,
my life is running out. I have never been one for worrying about things.
He smiles and says: My life at the moment is blinding.
Henry VIII starts tomorrow on ITV1 at 9pm.
Fury at TV rape fantasy
HENRY rapes second wife Anne Boleyn in a shocking scene in the TV drama.
But the assault has outraged historians &SHY; because they say it never
Derek Wilson, who specialises in the reign of the Tudor king, said:
This goes against everything we know about their relationship.
Although Henry was a bully as he got older, in his younger years he was extremely courteous and very witty.
Henry adored his feisty wife Anne and pursued her for six years until he
got his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled.
But later, he accused her of having sex with several men &SHY; including her
brother George Rochford.
She was beheaded at the Tower Of London in 1536.
John Beyer of Mediawatch UK said: Television makers do this all the time &SHY;
write in scenes, sex it all up.
They include things like this to attract more viewers and improve the
Writer Peter Morgan added: I want to stimulate interest in history,
rather than score points with a particular version of events.
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