The police drama has been a staple of television for many, many decades and that’s just as true in England as it is here in the States, particularly in the ’70s when a television show called The Sweeney was one of the most popular shows on television, on for three seasons and spawning two movies, none of which got much notice in the States.
Nearly 35 years later, filmmaker Nick Love decided to make a movie that acts as an updated version of the popular show with Ray Winstone playing the new Jack Regan, a tough old school police detective on London’s “Flying Squad,” a special division focused on armed robbery and violent crimes. It’s a division full of corruption and questionable activities and Regan has been secretly having an affair with the wife of one of his superiors, played by Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger) while his significantly younger partner George Carter (Ben Drew, also known as rapper Plan B) has been trying to fly the straight and narrow for the sake of his pregnant wife. Meanwhile, London is faced by a crime spree by a group of criminals who are callously murdering people at their crime scenes.
ComingSoon.net got on the phone with the veteran British actor last week, but before we get to that interview, eOne Films has provided us with an exclusive clip from the film including a shout-out from Winstone himself. The clip comes from roughly halfway into the movie when Winstone’s character is closing in on the robbers responsible for the crime spree, a tense scene in a parking garage where his girlfriend Nancy falls into their clutches.
And now here’s our interview with Winstone.
ComingSoon.net: I felt a little clueless because I never heard of the original show and I haven’t seen any of Nick Love’s other work. It’s really an amazing movie and I really liked without knowing much about it going in.
Ray Winstone: Oh, thank you. Honestly, I think we mostly feel the same way. (laughs)
CS: Over here, you first became known for “Sexy Beast” even though you were acting for many years before that, but I read somewhere that you actually appeared on the original television show in the ’70s. Is that true?
Winstone: Yeah, my first ever job was kind of like as an extra where I just joined a college and I was about to go work on special programs to learn a little bit and then I found myself on the set of an iconic show that was on TV and it was the biggest thing we had. I was lucky enough to meet both the stars of the show and came to know them both and then years later I’m playing the part, which is kind of like full circle. In a way, I never thought it would be possible back then.
CS: Did appearing on the show have a big impression on you even if it was just to make you want to act in more movies and television?
Winstone: I never actually thought that I’d ever be an actor, to be honest with you, Ed. To me, going to the pictures was seeing the fantasy, seeing John Wayne and Richard Burton and all these people and people you never saw, you never knew about. In those days, it’s not like it is today where they were pretty untouchable in a way, so to be in that world of fantasy, I never thought it was possible and probably I was a little bit embarrassed by the thought of it as well, you know.
CS: When you got the script for “The Sweeney” and you found out they wanted you to play this role Johnny Thaw made famous, did you have any trepidation about jumping into that?
Winstone: Well, I didn’t at first because it took five years to get it off the ground, you know? So at first it was “I’d love to do this, this is fantastic” and then as it got nearer and nearer to doing it, I thought, “Am I mad?” because it’s such an iconic show with iconic stars in it and then you sit down as you always do