A quick chat with Ray Winstone

Ray Winstone teams up with ER’s Parminder Nagra in the dark thriller Compulsion this week (ITV1, Monday, May 4, 9pm). The one-off drama – a modern take on the 17th-century tragedy The Changeling – stars Nagra as a university graduate whose father tries to force her into an arranged marriage. In desperation, she asks his chauffeur, Don Flowers, played by Winstone, for help, but their unlikely alliance turns into a web of obsession and murder.

We caught up with Ray, 52, to find out more…

Tell us about your character in Compulsion

“Don Flowers drives the car for a rich Asian family. He gets drugs for their grown-up son and he has a thing for the daughter, Anjika, who’s played by Parminder Nagra. When her parents set up an arranged marriage she doesn’t want, Flowers helps her out of it.”

What happens then?

“Flowers manipulates Anjika into bed, which is really overstepping the mark and shows how bad he is. But then everything changes and she becomes the manipulator. It’s quite twisted.”

Why were you attracted to the role?

“Well, my production company is behind Compulsion, but at first I didn’t want to star in it because I thought it was a step backwards. I’ve already played abusers in War Zone and Nil By Mouth, and also you get to a certain age where you think you might look like a dirty old man doing bedroom scenes with a young woman.”

What changed your mind?

“There is a psychological side to Flowers that is interesting. He is different from other characters I’ve played. He’s hard to like.”

What’s your next project?

“I’m doing a movie about the life of Ian Dury in which I play his dad. I loved his music so much I really wanted to do it. I’m also playing Caesar in Anthony and Cleopatra: The Musical with Catherine Zeta Jones and directed by Steven Soderburgh. My singing voice is OK. I can croon out a number!”

It’s been rumoured you are starring in a film version of The Sweeney

“Well, I’ve been offered the role of Jack Regan in a film remake and I’m definitely up for it. I was lucky enough to work with John Thaw and he was a great man. I can’t mimic his portrayal of Regan, so I’ll have to bring something of my own to the part.”

Do you take much time off between jobs?

“I haven’t had a holiday for three years, but I get to go to interesting places with my job. I like going to work.”

Your two eldest daughters are both actresses. What’s that like?

“You create your own Frankenstein’s monsters with your kids, but they’re lovely monsters! Lois and Jamie are independent and they have learned stuff their own way. I’ve never phoned up someone up to ask for a job for them.”

Did it bother you that Lois recently modelled lingerie?

“When she first told me, I said, ‘You’re not doing that!’ Then I saw the ads and it’s done really well; it’s classy. Ann Summers has come a long way since I knew it.”

You’ve had a lot of success in Hollywood. Why not move there?

“If I was a younger guy, I’d think seriously about it. I love Los Angeles and I’ve got great mates there, but you can’t get away from the business. It’s a bit like living above the shop. I come home to Essex to get back to reality.”

Are you still watching West Ham United?

“I was born in Plaistow and I’m claret and blue through and through. When you’re a West Ham fan, you’re an optimist all your life.”

You started off as a boxer. Do you ever regret quitting it for acting?

“I was only ever a novice and it’s a hard game. You’ve got to be really dedicated. People take up boxing because that’s their way out. No disrespect, but I found something else to do.”