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The Sweeney

The Sweeney press conference

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Nick Love's big screen re-work of the iconic cop show is available on DVD and Blu-ray now. Read our exclusive interview with Ray Winstone and Ben Drew (aka Plan B) and check out another exclusive with this behind the scenes video featuring Nick Love and his cast...

The Nuts Interview: Ray Winstone and Ben Drew 

What did you learn from working with each other?

Ray: Ben’s still got his head close to the ground and knows that world. We used that in the film. He’s a young cop from the estates (Ben plays Ray’s partner Carter) and knows how to operate. I’m a bit of a dinosaur, as I guess I am in real life!

Ben: Ray showed me that just because you’re feeling the emotions of a scene it doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. Nick Love showed me a take on the monitor and I was completely over doing it and it was s***. So the next time I did the complete opposite and he was like, “That was amazing! You’re such a fast learner.” We done the rest of the takes like that and I was like, just what the f*** am I doing here? I don’t know what I’m doing. It proper like knocked my confidence but I spoke to Ray and he reminded me that when you feel emotion in real life you do try to hide it and when you feel like you’re about to cry you try not to cry. Don’t ya? So it’s less to do with the physicality of your body and your face – it’s all about the eyes. It’s an internal thing. These things are so subtle but the camera picks it all up. I learnt so much from Ray and what a great person to learn it from.

What surprised you most about each other?

Ray: I knew he was a talented lad but he blew me away. He’s a gifted actor and a great musician but he’s a shy kid. Though when you break down his barriers he’s got a heart as big as Bournemouth.

Ben: He was always an idol of mine. He’s a hero that didn’t let me down. You know, sometimes you look up to people and when you get the chance to meet them you’re like… Tosser. Ray definitely isn’t. If I looked up to him before I look up to him ten times more now.

What’s your relationship like off-screen – do you go out for a pint together?

Ray: We did a bit but I find it a lot harder to get over a proper night out than I used to! These young ‘uns can do four nights on the trot and still go to work but it soon catches up with ya! But he’s been over to mine and we’ve had a drink and ate the Chinese gear after a hard day’s filming. If you sit down with Ben it won’t just be a meaningless chat where you chew the fat - he’s very intense about the things he believes in.

Ben: We have a laugh yeah and hopefully that comes over on screen… We updated the relationship between Regan and Carter (from the original 70s cop show the film is based on) to make it more relevant to these times. I come from a generation of broken families – there’s quite a lot of us who don’t know our fathers and yearn for that father figure. And that’s what my Carter sees in Ray’s Regan. The same could be said of our relationship in real life. D’you know what I mean? He’s not a mate mate and I don’t see him as a brother but I do look up to him in that way. Don’t get me wrong he’s not my surrogate father or nothing and don’t call me son but it’s got that dynamic and we’ll take the piss out of each other.

Ray, you're a Hammer and Ben you're a Gooner - who knows more about football?

Ray: I think he’s a traitor because he comes from my neck of the woods. I’m from Plaistow and he’s a Manor Park boy so he should be claret and blue through and through! To me that’s a chink in his armour…

Ben: He’s got more years on me. Yeah, I should have been claret and blue but I didn’t have a Dad or older brother to tell me who to support so it was Ian Wright that got me into football and I’ve supported Arsenal ever since.

Will you work together again?

Ray: I’d love to and if people like The Sweeney we could make a sequel. It’s always been the intention so here’s hoping. The viewing public will decide.

Ben: I hope so I’d love to direct Ray in one of my films one day…

Who swears the most between you two?

Ray: Ben, he’s got a proper filthy mouth!

Ben: Nah! I’m sure its close but he edges it.

Who could have who in a fight? 

Ray: He’d murder me but if I was a younger man? I’d up him! I’m an old fella now but never under estimate an old man. I’m cunning!

Ben: Ray would have me any day. He’d lose an ear or something but he’d win – he’s the Daddy!

Tell us a cockney put down we might not have heard before?

Ray: Leave it out you f***ing melt! I’m mugging you off here. I’m an East End boy but Nick Love’s from South London and they’ve got a different way of doing it down there. They talk in pineapples and coconuts. A silly sort of slang, you know what I mean?

Ben: There are so many words that link to others it‘s like a f***ing foreign language. Why is a rattler the name for a chain? Because it rattles…

The films you guys make are often pretty tough going – really gritty downbeat stuff. Sometimes, don't you just fancy doing a comedy?

Ray: I’d love to but it’s whether an audience wants to see you in that way and whether someone would employ you. 

Ben: It would have to be proper funny.

What was it like having Clarkson and Co interfering during a car chase scene for Top Gear? 

Ray: It can get in the way when people turn up on set and start dicking around. You’re thinking, we’ve only got six weeks to make this film and now we’ve gotta spend a day f***ing around but it was nice to have a moment of release and blow up a caravan!

Ben: We couldn’t have done it without them.

Who’s the best driver? 

Ray: Me! He hasn’t got a clue. 

Ben: I left that to the stunt guys.

You both get busy shedding the lead. Who’s the best marksman?

Ray: I’m slightly blind now so I’ll have to give that to him! I’d shoot anything that moved anyway - friend or foe. When in doubt give it a clout!

You both take a kicking in The Sweeney. Did you sustain any injuries during filming?

Ray: I’m forever breaking ribs. There’s a scene where I’m being held and punched out by Stephen McIntosh but he caught my lower rib good and proper.

Ben: I got lucky there!

You’re both usually on the wrong side of the law on screen. What’s it been like playing rozzers for a change?

Ray: My character Regan’s on the edge and could just as easily be a villain… But thank God there are people that want to do a job like that. The country would be in a terrible state if we didn’t have the old bill. When it all goes pear-shaped who do we call?

Ben: I wanted my Carter to be fresh. But I know my character wouldn’t have gone straight into flying squad, he had to go on the beat and work his way up. If I became a police officer I wouldn’t talk the way they talk. If I, Ben Drew, was a copper I’d approach a kid I had to search differently and not with all that legalese I experienced growing up. I wanted to play Carter as a human being…

What’s your favourite cop show and why?

Ray: The original Sweeny was my favourite growing up. And these days I really like Luther. Idris Elba’s triffic in that! 

Ben: I dunno about cop shows but I love the Beverly Hills cop films with Eddie Murphy.

When it comes to all round geezer-ness, who’s the Daddy?

Ray: I wouldn’t call Ben a geezer he’s deeper than that. I’m the one who jumps about and has a laugh where he’s a more thoughtful character. That’s just the way I work, I like to take it to the other end of the scale before I do something heavy. It’s the way I prepare.

Ben: It’s his nickname not mine!

What’s it been like working on a Nick Love film? 

Ray: His drive and enthusiasm are awesome and he’s getting better with each film. It’s a pleasure to turn up and got to work for him.

Ben: In my mind I was comparing the experience to working on Ill Manors, which I’d just finished shooting. Nick is very disciplined and what he set out to shoot he shot. My directing process and what made it from script to screen was completely different.

What's best: jellied eels, pie and mash, the full English or a lovely Ruby?

Ray: That’s a really unfair question because I love ‘em all!

Ben: I’ll have what he’s having.

Interview by Dan Brightmore