Mark Strong is trying to be more like Scarlett Johansson. “I read an article where Scarlett Johansson said she’s only ever three weeks away from peak fitness,” he says. “So, I have this joke with my trainer, Giacomo [Farci], that I should only ever be three weeks away from peak fitness, too. If a call comes in saying, ‘You’re playing a superhero in three weeks’ time,’ we can get there.”
The baritone star, whose Sky drama Temple returned for its second series on 28 October, only started taking his fitness seriously in his forties, after a producer on 2013’s Welcome To The Punch urged him to take on a trainer. “At the costume fitting I took my shirt off and I saw them all looking. At the end of the fitting [the producer] sidled over and they just went, ‘Trainer?’ And I just thought, ‘OK, I get it. Yeah, why not.’”
Strong was put through a rigorous regimen for six weeks, working out every single day. “In six weeks, I saw results, you know, and I’ve never really seen that before.” Now he works out almost every day, with a mixture of aerobics – including a star-studded seven-a-side football game – and intense weights sessions with Farci, who has remained a constant in Strong’s life for the best part of a decade.
“It’s amazing how many times I see people in their early forties, particularly actors, who suddenly lost loads of weight and they’ll be like, ‘I stopped drinking’ or ‘I started training.’ They get really svelte and start doing ice baths. That kind of hits you in your early-to-mid forties. You have to make a choice: are you going to go down the Gérard Depardieu bon viveur route, where you just get so hammered you end up weeing on planes, or are you going to get fit and healthy?”
“Every Monday and Friday morning, I play football in the East End. Sometimes five-, six- or seven-a-side for about 90 minutes. The team is called The Friday Rovers. It’s a game that’s been going on for about 20 years, with a bunch of very well-known actors, writers, directors, producers, journalists, you know, people who don’t have desk jobs, so they can play football at ten o’clock on a Monday morning. It’s a bit like Fight Club: you’re not allowed to talk about Fight Club. The one rule is that we don’t talk shop. We turn up and we play and we generally don’t …….