Ray Winstone delighted with Derry reception

Actor Ray Winstone. (2311PG92)

Actor Ray Winstone. (2311PG92)

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He’s best known for playing tough guys with a penchant for violence but movie star Ray Winstone was anything but when his latest film, ‘Ashes’ enjoyed its Irish premiere at the Foyle Film Festival on Wednesday evening.

He’s best known for playing tough guys with a penchant for violence but movie star Ray Winstone was anything but when his latest film, ‘Ashes’ enjoyed its Irish premiere at the Foyle Film Festival on Wednesday evening.

The London born movie star was in Derry along with ‘Ashes’ director, Mat Whitecross, to promote the film, which was screened at the Brunswick Moviebowl. He started off by telling the ‘Journal’ that City of Derry Airport is one of the nicest airports he’s ever been to.

“It’s a great airport - don’t ever change it. I couldn’t believe it when we arrived on Wednesday because we walked off the plane, walked through a door and we were there - it was great.

“I purposely didn’t bring a bag but had I known how great the airport in Derry was I would have left my man bag at home and brought a proper bag with me,” he joked.

In ‘Ashes’ Winstone, 55, plays Frank Barron, a man struck down with Alzheimer’s.

Frank’s estranged son, played by Jim Sturgess, tracks Frank down and decides to help his father to escape from the secure unit hospital. The two men go on a road trip like no other ever seen before.

The film is based upon Mat Whitecross’s own experience of when his father, Richard, died as a result of Alzheimer’s. Mat said that he was over the moon with how the film was received by the people of Derry and added that the question and answer session after the screening was one of the best he had ever been part of.

“It was a tough subject to tackle but whether you love or hate the film, people were talking about Alzheimer’s and dementia by the end of the night. People were talking about their own personal experiences which I thought was amazing because sometimes when you go to those question and answer sessions they are a bit awkward and it’s all about ‘what was the catering like?’ or ‘did you get on with your co-stars?’

Winstone, who has starred alongside Hollywood stars Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford said that he thought next year’s City of Culture celebrations could help to transform the image of Derry.

“It can’t do it any harm. It’ll do the place the world of good because not only will it put Derry on the map but it will also put Northern Ireland on the map too.”

Winstone, who will play Tubal-cain in Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ in 2014 said that he felt very welcome in Derry and added that should the opportunity ever present itself, he would return “in a flash”.

“I filmed here for eight weeks 25 years ago when we shot a movie in the women’s prison in Armagh. The Troubles were really bad back then so I have come here when everything was pear shaped so now that the future of this place is looking good I’d be back in a flash.”

Fancy a look behind the scenes - click here

For more information on the Foyle Film Festival visit the Festival site here or on Twitter @FoyleFilm