Iconic ghost laid to rest

Po­lice roles come at cost in writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

AY Win­stone has been crack­ing skulls and kick­ing in doors since he broke into the main­stream in Gary Old­man’s 1997 drama Nil By Mouth.

That film led to star turns in the equally con­fronting Sexy Beast and Martin Scors­ese’s crime thriller The De­parted and set up Win­stone as the ul­ti­mate hard­man.

His lat­est project sees him reprise the role of DI Jack Re­gan in a re­make of 1970s UK cop drama The Sweeney. Win­stone had to get past the ghost of the late Bri­tish star John Thaw, who played Re­gan in the TV se­ries and men­tored Win­stone on the orig­i­nal set.

‘‘I was an ex­tra on The Sweeney af­ter I left col­lege and was lucky enough to work with John Thaw so mak­ing this film was like go­ing full cir­cle,’’ he says.

‘‘He was an icon and while many say that the part was tai­lor made for me, it wasn’t easy be­cause of all the bag­gage from the show. For me, I had to find an­other way in there and cre­ate some­thing else by stamp­ing my own mark on the part.’’

Set in mod­ern times, The Sweeney is faster and harder than the TV show. Win­stone’s Re­gan, a no-non­sense en­forcer, and part­ner Ge­orge Carter (Plan B mu­si­cian Ben Drew), set their sights on an old crim­i­nal foe af­ter a bru­tal mur­der dur­ing an oth­er­wise in­nocu­ous hold-up.

Di­rected by Nick Love ( Out­law) and writ­ten by BAFTA win­ner John Hodge ( Trainspot­ting), the plot thick­ens via a se­ries of car chases, shoot-outs and twists – with­out ever be­ing held back by the show’s legacy.

‘‘The name The Sweeney opened doors for us but we wanted to make a cops and rob­bers, Bri­tish-style movie so the only con­nec­tion was the name really,’’ says Win­stone, who shares an affin­ity with his char­ac­ter.

‘‘I’m play­ing an old guy who shaped his ca­reer in the ’70s and looks at the world in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way to the next gen­er­a­tion.

‘‘He’s a di­nosaur and of the per­sua­sion that you’ve got to kick down some doors and rough a few peo­ple up be­cause there are bad guys out there.’’

On the flip­side is Drew’s char­ac­ter Carter, a mav­er­ick cop from the wrong side of the tracks who walks a fine line be­tween crime stop­per and crime starter.

Raised in a work­ing class fam­ily in the ne­glected East Lon­don bor­ough of For­est Gate, Drew is an ex­pert in street law, from his ri­ots-ref­er­enc­ing Ill Manors al­bum to the crim he plays in Michael Caine film Harry Brown. Play­ing a like­able po­lice­man tested his met­tle. ‘‘I played him the way I wish the po­lice had been when I was grow­ing up – only con­cerned by real crim­i­nals like mur­der­ers and rapists as op­posed to kids smok­ing a bit of weed,’’ he says.

opens to­day.

Ray Win­stone (left) and Ben Drew part­ner up in the big-screen re­make of

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