If you flick through the celebrity pages of most British newspapers — particularly the free sheets — you’ll likely recognise Jaime Winstone. As Ray Winstone‘s daughter she’s part of that select set of star children — think Peaches and Pixie, Lily and Alfie, Kelly and Jack — with whom the tabloid press seem to have a keen fascination; especially when it comes to photographing them on nights out at hip London clubs. At 23 years old, it’s no surprise Winstone enjoys having a good time of an evening, but it’s her daytime activities which are becoming increasingly more interesting.
As an actress, she made her debut only 5 years ago, alongside Ashley Walters in powerful Brit drama Bullet Boy, and she’s been quietly building a solid body of work ever since. She played as part of the ensemble cast of Noel Clarke‘s Kidulthood, tried her hand at horror with Donkey Punch and Dead Set, and shared the screen with David Suchet in Poirot.
Her five favourite films reveal her passions, her upbringing and the steps that brought her into the industry, and her latest project, Boogie Woogie, released later in the year, promises to continue her quest to be taken seriously as an actress, not just a celebrity. Co-starring Gillian Anderson, Heather Graham and Danny Huston, Winstone plays a manipulative young British artist, and recently attended the film’s premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival, where RT sat down with her.
“It’s definitely up there because of the cinematography, the cultural references, the graffiti, and the art. It’s that kind of high-standard indie film and the French make such beautiful films anyway. They seem to be in a league of their own. All the references to the riots and the times and what was going on, that’s particularly why I love that film.”
“Jeff Bridges is amazing. The cast, the script; it’s written so well in terms of characters. It’s genius, it’s funny, and it’s wacky. It’s about a big stoner, man, and it’s just really great.”
“It was one of the first films I ever watched when I was young. It really had impact. The music just carries you while you’re sitting there watching it. I remember watching it with my dad, actually sat on my dad’s belly, and saying to him how much I loved it!”
“I’m a total sci-fi freak, particularly when it comes to Arnie and machine guns. It’s just brilliant — genius. ‘Give those people air,’ and all that. I just love it. I love the mutants too. It’s like an old comic book that’s been turned into a film.”
“I’m thinking of a bunch of gangster films I’d like to include, like Bronx Tale is a particular favourite, but my final choice is Pulp Fiction. It’s a film I never get bored watching. It’s shocking, it’s stylised, it’s clever and the soundtrack is kickass.”
Continue onto the next page for our exclusive interview with Jaime as she talks about spending time on sets with dad and how she got into acting.
Jaime Winstone: I don’t really know, to be honest. When I was younger I never said, “I want to be an actress.” I always wanted to be involved in the production side — putting on a play or getting involved with the clothes or whatever — but I could never really see myself acting. I’d do creative stuff, in drama class, but I’d never be the one to say, “Oh, can I be up front,” because that’d make me cringe. But Des Hamilton, the casting director, got me in for Bullet Boy, and it just went from there. The illusion of being an actress and being completely dramatic and loving the attention is not that true, you know, there are a lot of actors I know who are extremely shy. And I sometimes fit into that bracket, when it comes to acting I love it and I take it very seriously. I knew as soon as I was in front of the camera that it was right and I was in my right shoes.
I grew up heavily into horror films. When I was younger, that was basically all I watched. And Lawrence of Arabia! [laughs] I was really into my Freddy Kruegers and my zombie films and I was always fascinated with moving image and movies. With the escapism you get when you go to the cinema, when you sit in your darkened room and watch a film. It can take you out of your world for a little bit, and I think that’s the extended passion of why I do it, because I get to become someone else for however long. You can experiment in another world and find what you can draw from a particular character. I think we’re very lucky to be able to do that for a career. Some might take it for granted, but I love it.
Winstone in Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood.
JW: Quite a bit, actually. When I was younger I remember spending a lot of time in theatres watching my dad, because he went through a bit of a theatre stage. I was completely on set throughout most of my dad’s career. I was heavily involved in Nil by Mouth and I was living with my dad and Gary Oldman while we were shooting that. It was a bit bizarre and weird and I didn’t really know what was going on!
I went to do a bit of work experience in Prague Film Festival and got a bit of a view on how the big machine turns and how films are actually made on set. How that runner rigs that certain light and how that light affects that certain area. I was educated when it comes to film. I think that’s why I’m so confident that this is what I want to do. I’ve been lucky enough to experience the full effect of filmmaking. Some people come out of drama school and think, “Right, I’m off to be a big star,” and hardly any of them have stepped foot in a studio before.
I guess I don’t really have that fear, you know. I did running on a Scorsese film, getting people teas and coffees. I spent time on the Indiana Jones set with my dad. You get a sense that on those giant films, the scale of it is so huge but it still ticks like any other films. It’s still a group of people getting together; it’s just that they have a lot more money, a lot more power and a lot more time, which a lot of films I’ve done haven’t. I’ve seen quick, short independent film sets with British money where the turnaround is very quick, and then watching a massive film with Spielberg planning two days for one scene.
I do feel I’ve had a lot of experience and influence that’s helped me, not necessarily get my foot in the door, but helped me understand what it is I want to do.
Continue as Winstone talks about her latest film, Boogie Woogie, and working with Hollywood’s finest.
JW: Definitely. You’ve got to work, at the end of the day, and this year’s been tough for the industry I think, but it’s still going. In terms of making choices, I’ve always had that support from my dad and my family and my agent to stick to what I want to do and not sell out and take the next big film that comes along. Don’t get me wrong, that can be great, to do a really big film, but at the moment I think it’s time that I carve out my career and the make the films people will remember. I hope I’ve got a good body of work already.
It’s quite an important stage for me. I’m 23 and I’m making that transition from a girl to a woman and I want to have some good stuff under my belt. It means holding your breath a little bit and being a bit patient — going a bit insane — but it’s worth it because when you get that good job, you feel it’s right.
Everything that’s happened in my career up until now has been very organic and it’s happened naturally through meeting someone and really hitting it off and then going off to do a film with them. I feel my conscience is quite clear with that and I’m confident about the work.
JW: Boogie Woogie is about the art scene in London as a whole. It explores the lives of art dealers, art exhibitors, art buyers, art victims. It’s about the characters in that art world. I play a young artist, kind-of a Tracey Emin vibe. It’s a complete ensemble piece, so it goes through all these different people’s lives and the ups and downs of the fierce art world. It’s amazing how a piece of art is supposed to be moving and touching but when you get to the core of it it’s just fucking expensive.
I play a young video artist who self-documents her life and exposes everybody she comes across. She’s a fierce and completely sexual lesbian. She uses her sexual aura to draw people in and uses it as a weapon. Documents their feelings and her feelings and is looked upon as a dedicated artist. It’s quite clever and conniving of her. A lot of time art doesn’t have room for humanity, it just is. If it’s disgusting, that’s the art — it’s supposed to make you feel sick. Her pieces have a lot of those sorts of moments. She goes deep with it, exposes her girlfriend’s life, makes her look like a fool and sells it on and gets picked up by Vanity Fair. That’s the way it goes, usually. You know, the tough guys, the nasty guys in art tend to come out shining. It’s not like the real world.
JW: Totally. To work with Danny [Huston] was pretty amazing. He’s got a great energy. He’s the main art dealer in town, Art Spindle. Amanda [Seyfried] is really sweet and very nice. I really got on with Heather [Graham], she’s a lovely, lovely girl and totally beautiful. Jack [Huston] was so funny and Gillian [Anderson] I just think is fantastic. She’s got such a great range. I was a huge fan of hers from The X-Files! To be on the same screen as Sir Christopher Lee and Joanna Lumley was just amazing. Alan Cumming and I are very close in the film, and we got on really well.
I’ve also just worked with David Suchet on Poirot, and yeah, when you’re working with people like that they draw you in and you draw from them. You’re in awe — they’ve been doing this for years and they still have the same passion. And they’re not, you know, thespians; they’re real actors. Just by watching the way they stand, they know what they’re doing, and it’s really inspirational. You have to up the standards, too. If you don’t know your lines and David Suchet’s standing there, you’re going to look like an absolute idiot! But, you know, I’m ready to meet that challenge now and I’m ready to up my game a little bit.
Boogie Woogie will be out later this year.