Jaime Winstone talks to Gabrielle Fagan about motherhood and how her skating skills came in handy for Torvill and Dean biopic
'I couldn't be happier now that I'm a mum... all of the things you worried about in your 20s are irrelevant now'
It's a new era for Jaime Winstone. The Londoner has show business in her blood, as the daughter of East End 'hard man' actor, Ray Winstone - but in her 20s was arguably as famous for her partying, as she was for her acting and modelling work.
Catapulted into the spotlight aged 21, in 2006's urban teen movie Kidulthood, Winstone has a string of TV and film credits to her name - including the award-winning 2010 film Made In Dagenham, BBC drama Five Daughters, and Sky 1 sitcom After Hours.
She on-and-off dated Game Of Thrones actor, Alfie Allen - younger brother of Lily Allen - for around seven years, but since 2015 has been happily settled with her fiance, James Suckling, with whom she has a two-year-old son, Ray.
Last year, Winstone's portrayal of the young Barbara Windsor in Babs, the BBC's biopic about the actor's life and career, won her a load of praise with critics and audiences alike. Next up, she's starring in Torvill And Dean, ITV's new drama based on the relationship between the two Olympic skating icons, which will be shown on Christmas Day.
Here, the 33-year-old opens up about how much motherhood has changed her life, wanting to behave for the sake of her son, and her love for her partner...
What is your role in Torvill And Dean?
Janet Sawbridge is the person who spotted Christopher and Jayne, paired them up for the first time and cemented their partnership, so she was really key to setting them on the road to success.
She has a firm no-nonsense attitude but underneath there's a softness, love and passion for her job that must have helped her cope with hours freezing cold in a rink. Eventually, she passes them on to someone else.
It's a thrill to be in this - they're such icons that everyone knows. I'm genuinely interested to see how people react to the story of them, because there was always so much gossip and speculation around their relationship.
Obviously, my CV said I was a fantastic skater - probably a bit of an ambitious claim! Luckily, there was some truth in it, because as we lived near Alexandra Palace in north London when I was a kid, I'd skate there at weekends.
Getting into Janet's character and wearing my hair in a dodgy Seventies roll helped me forget my nerves, and stopped me worrying about falling over on the ice!
You had a reputation as a 'wild child' in your 20s - has becoming a mum changed you?
Motherhood changes everyone, and I guess being a mum has settled me down - although, to be honest, I never felt I was that wild, although some people might argue differently!
Of course, there are lot of things in my 20s that I did that I wouldn't do now, and there's definitely a bit more of a needed routine in my life thanks to Ray.
Being a mum definitely gave me a bigger drive to work harder and be more successful, because I have a family to support now.
Also, it's important to me that Ray sees positive things about me as he grows up, so I'm watching my behaviour these days!
What's being a mum like for you?
Having a happy, healthy baby is so grounding and also so magical. I couldn't be happier. All the things that you kind of stress about and worry about in your 20s are so irrelevant now.
I'm focused on good nurturing and a good diet for him, and making happy memories, which is the most important thing.
Did you name him after your dad?
Well, he is the double of my dad! Before he was born, we never actually thought about calling him Raymond, but when he came and we saw him, that was pretty scary. I looked at him and thought, 'Oh my God, it's my dad!'
So then the name was literally no choice! He was completely a Raymond. My dad's a devoted grandad, adores him and is wonderful with him.
How are you coping with motherhood and working?
I feel I'm a juggler, keeping loads of things in the air at the same time. At the moment, I'm reading a Pinter play for radio, ferrying a lively two-and-a-half-year-old to and from nursery and entertaining him in-between, so it gets wild at times.
But I think the universe kind of recognises when someone knuckles down and wants to work and wants to really concentrate on what they love doing and helps you.
I'm lucky James and I make a good team, and he's a very hands-on dad and my rock. When there's nothing booked in the diary, we just absolutely chill and focus on what's important, our son.
My parents, who are very down to earth, brought me up to realise that, although in this business you're in the limelight, at the end of the day, it's just a job. I've learnt the hard way that it's only the work that should speak for you, and now in my 30s, I get that. Life's a learning curve.
Is a wedding planned?
People keep asking whether we're going to marry, and there were even reports that we had actually married, which is all rubbish. Basically, I'm engaged to be married in the future, but I don't know when it'll happen, and definitely not in the near future. When it happens, it'll be a massive do, and we're very far away from being able to do that.
It's lovely to be with someone who understands me and gets my work. James is in fashion, which is good because we have different territories, so we can give opinions to each other. I've been out with actors in the past and it didn't work out - mental cases!
How do you look after your health and wellbeing?
Love is my biggest key to happiness and wellbeing. Spending time with my son is amazing, and it just feels like no amount of money or therapy can give you a boost like that, as it's just fantastic. I don't want any more children just yet because I'm focusing on my work, my home life, my health and my head.
Dancing is something I need to do at least once a month, either at a class or a club. After a couple of hours of dancing flat out, I feel amazing and it makes my mind work better. Maybe in my past life I was a dancer or something.
I've realised that airing your feelings and talking things out is very healthy, so I have therapy regularly. You need to listen to yourself sometimes because it helps you work out whether you're on track, and what you need.
I find swimming and sound baths (a meditative experience which uses vibrations to induce relaxation) very calming.
What's been your favourite role so far?
It was a fantastic honour playing my icon, Dame Barbara Windsor. I was so in awe of her but she just walked on to the set and told me, 'You're more me than me', which made me feel very flattered, comfortable and carefree about performing and trying to be just like her.
It was precious sharing time with her on set. She was relaxed, giggly and not at all precious about having her life portrayed by someone else and I still see her.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
Trust your gut instinct - because that seldom lets you down. You're the person who's going to be faced with the outcome of a decision, so you might as well believe in what you're doing, listen to your instinct, and trust yourself to get it right.
The other thing I've always been told is, 'Come to the front, you're too little, we can't see you'. That's stood me in good stead, because I've remembered that and always gone to the front and it's helped me get noticed!
Torvill and Dean airs on ITV on Christmas Day