Mark Strong

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Mark Strong
Mark Strong (Berlin Film Festival 2011).jpg
BornMarco Giuseppe Salussolia
(1963-08-05) 5 August 1963 (age 51)
London, England
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Liza Marshall
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Mark Strong
Mark Strong (Berlin Film Festival 2011).jpg
BornMarco Giuseppe Salussolia
(1963-08-05) 5 August 1963 (age 51)
London, England
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Liza Marshall

Mark Strong (born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia; 5 August 1963) is an English film and television actor. He is best known for his role in the television series Our Friends in the North and films such as RocknRolla, Body of Lies, Syriana, The Young Victoria, Sherlock Holmes, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Kick-Ass, Green Lantern, Zero Dark Thirty, Robin Hood, and John Carter. He often portrays villains or antagonists.

Early life[edit]

Strong was born in London, the son of an Austrian mother and an Italian father.[1] His father left the family soon after his birth, and he was brought up by his mother, who worked as an au pair. Strong said in an interview: "The home I grew up in... was a flat in Myddelton Square in London's Islington, a beautiful Georgian square with a huge church in the middle. We moved around a lot when I was a kid. I remember flats in Walthamstow, Clapton, Stoke Newington and Edmonton, as well." His English name is not a stage name; when he was a child, his mother changed his name by deed poll to help him fit in with his peers.[2] He was baptised a Catholic.[3] He speaks fluent German and some Italian.[4][5]

Strong attended Wymondham College, where he sang in the punk bands the Electric Hoax and Private Party (the name of the latter was based on the idea that the band's shows would not be attended, due to prospective audiences thinking that the event was a "private party").[6] His original ambition was to become a lawyer, but after studying German constitutional law at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich for one year, he returned home to London[7] and studied English and Drama at Royal Holloway, and later attended Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.[citation needed]


Strong is a familiar face on British television. He appeared in two Prime Suspect serials for ITV as Inspector (later Detective Chief Superintendent) Larry Hall, in Prime Suspect 3 (1993) and Prime Suspect 6 (2003). He also had starring roles in two BBC Two drama serials, Our Friends in the North (1996) and The Long Firm (2004), for which he earned a BAFTA nomination. He also played the villainous Colonel Brand in Sharpe's Mission (1996). He played the romantic lead, Mr. Knightley, in the 1996 ITV adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma. In feature films, Strong played Steve in the 1997 film adaptation of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch opposite Colin Firth.

At the beginning of the 2000s he appeared in Heartlands and in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse, for which he was nominated for the 2003 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role. He was later featured in Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist (2005), played Mussawi in the film Syriana, and played an assassin called Sorter in Revolver (2005). Strong portrayed the traitorous Wictred in Tristan & Isolde, showing his talent with swordplay, and since 2006, he has provided the narration in the BBC's genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?.

In 2007 Strong was one of the final two actors considered for the part of Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men; despite the persistence of rumours, he claims he was never offered the part.[8] Strong was Pinbacker, the insane captain of Icarus I, the first ship that was sent to reignite the Sun in Sunshine (2007). Pinbacker was inspired by the character of Sergeant Pinback from Dark Star.[9] The character's disfiguring burns were influenced by the injuries suffered by F1 driver Niki Lauda.[10] Boyle described the character of Pinbacker as a representation of fundamentalism.[11] The director also described the potentially unrealistic presence of Pinbacker as an example of something that breaks the pattern of realism, similar to his scene in Trainspotting (1996) in which Ewan McGregor's character dives into a toilet.[12] Strong played prince Septimus, the youngest of the seven Stormhold princes, in Stardust (2007).

In 2008 he played Nick Calderelli in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Mannie Miesel in Flashbacks of a Fool, Finn in Babylon A.D., Archy in RocknRolla, Philipp Bouhler in Good. Also in 2008, Strong portrayed Hani Salaam, the Jordanian intelligence chief and director of the feared GID in Body of Lies, marking his first collaboration with English director Sir Ridley Scott and collaborated successful for a second time in the 2010 epic adventure film Robin Hood portraying the antagonist Sir Godfrey. Strong's portrayal of Hani Salaam, earned Strong a nomination for the London Critics Circle Film Award for Best British Supporting Actor and his performance was mentioned by several critics, with Scott calling it "a marvel of exotic suavity and cool insinuation" while Ebert "particularly admired" his aura of suave control.[13] Strong ascribed his casting to his performances in the 2005 films Syriana and Oliver Twist.[14] The character Haani Salaam was modelled after the 2000–2005 GID chief Saad Kheir (1953–2009), whose involvement, according to the original author David Ignatius, in sharply handled interrogations without use of torture, a counter with a jihadist with his mother on the phone and being called the 'fingernail boss' were near accurately featured in the film.[15] The next year he played a lead part in the Channel 4 film Endgame (2009).[16] and he played Lord Blackwood, the main villain in Sherlock Holmes (2009), who has somehow returned after his execution with a plot to take over the British Empire using an arsenal of dark arts and new technologies. He worked with director Ritchie for the third time and said he appreciates the director's lack of ego and how easy he is to work with.[17][18] The same year he played Frank D'Amico, the head of a criminal organisation in Kick-Ass. Strong says he is drawn to playing the antagonist. He tries to "understand the purpose of the character", and then work on building a believable individual.[19]

Strong with the cast of Green Lantern at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.

He then played Thaal Sinestro, a Green Lantern and Hal Jordan's mentor, in the superhero film Green Lantern (2011).[20] Mark Strong affirmed that the film will follow the origin story, "the film closely follows the early comics. Sinestro starts out as Hal Jordan’s mentor, slightly suspicious and not sure of him because obviously Hal is the first human being who’s made into a Green Lantern. He's certainly very strict and certainly unsure of the wisdom of Hal becoming a Green Lantern". Strong said the character "is a military guy but isn't immediately bad. It's the kind of person he is that lends himself to becoming bad over the course of the comics being written, but initially he’s quite a heroic figure.” He also revealed that the outfit and other aspects of the character very closely follow the character's early days, “That widow's peak and thin mustache was for some reason originally based on David Niven.... So I would like to do justice to the Sinestro that was conceived for the comic books”.[21]

In 2011 he was the voice Pod of The Secret World of Arrietty and the voice of the character Captain Titus of the Ultramarines Chapter in the video game Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. The same year, and most notably, he played the role of Jim Prideaux in the remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which was earlier played by Ian Bannen in the iconic original 1979 BBC series starring Alec Guinness. The film premiered in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival on 5 September 2011.[22] The film received generally positive reviews. The film holds an 83% 'Fresh' approval rating from 203 reviews collected by review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a dense puzzle of anxiety, paranoia, and espionage that director Tomas Alfredson pieces together with utmost skill".[23] Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating in the 0–100 range based on reviews from top mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 85 based on 42 reviews, equating to "universal acclaim".[24]

Strong at the Sherlock Holmes premiere in Berlin, 2010.

The next year he played Clive Cornell in The Guard which is the most successful independent Irish film of all time in terms of Irish box-office receipts, overtaking The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) which previously held this status.[25] The film has a 95 percent positive rating according to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[26] Strong began filming the role of Jacob Sternwood in the British thriller, Welcome to the Punch.[27] He was Matai Shang, the leader of the Therns in John Carter. He then starred in Kathryn Bigelow's action thriller film Zero Dark Thirty with co-stars Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt.[28][29] It was independently financed by Ellison's Annapurna Pictures. The film had its premiere in Los Angeles, California on 19 December 2012 and had its wide release on 11 January 2013.[30] The film received wide critical acclaim and was nominated for five Oscars for the 85th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Chastain) and Best Original Screenplay. The film won one, for Best Sound Editing. Zero Dark Thirty earned four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, and Best Actress – Drama for Chastain. On 31 October 2012 Strong joined the cast of the film.[31]

In November 2012, Strong and Taissa Farmiga were cast as John and Anna in Mindscape, produced by Jaume Collet-Serra, and the feature-length directorial debut of Spaniard Jorge Dorado. The story of the film centres on a man with the ability to enter people's memories who begins working on the case of a brilliant but problematic teenager to determine whether she is a sociopath or the victim of trauma. The film came to cinemas in 2014.[32] In North America, the film has been retitled Anna.

Jaguar Cars produced an advert in 2014, initially shown during Super Bowl XLVIII and later online and on television. The advert, which featured Strong alongside fellow British actors Ben Kingsley and Tom Hiddleston, was themed around their recent film roles as villains, and used the tagline "It's good to be bad".[33]

Strong co-starred in the 2014 historical drama film The Imitation Game, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, in which he played MI6 chief Stewart Menzies.[34] On 24 April 2014, Strong joined Sony’s spy action comedy Grimsby.[35] The story of the film centres on a British black-ops spy (Strong) whose idiotic brother is an English football hooligan (Sacha Baron Cohen).[36]

Personal life[edit]

He lives in London with his wife, Liza Marshall, and their two sons. In an interview he said he is content living a relatively normal life in London: “I’ve got no desire to live anywhere else. I was born here, my wife was born here, my kids were born here and this is where we’re going to stay,” he says. “I feel like I have a lovely balance. I’m able to keep my head below the parapet. I get on with my work, I have a family and I get on the tube. It just so happens that I’m doing this job.” [37][38][39]

He is a longtime friend of actor Daniel Craig, who is the godfather of Strong's eldest son.[40] He dubbed Craig into German, as German with an English accent was required for Obsession (1997).[citation needed]

In an interview he said that his style icon is David Bowie, and when he was a child he wanted to be the French actor Alain Delon: "I remember watching him in films and though I couldn't understand a word he was saying I remember thinking he looked great. Failing that, an astronaut, after watching the moon landing on a tiny, portable, black-and-white TV at my gran's house".[41] Strong's greatest inspiration is Nelson Mandela: "I made a film this summer about the end of apartheid in South Africa – his suffering, coupled with his ability to remain tolerant, is staggering".


1989After HenryRogerTV series
1993Buddha of Suburbia, TheThe Buddha of SuburbiaTelevision producer
1993Prime Suspect 3Inspector Larry Hall
1996EmmaMr. KnightleyTV film
1996Our Friends in the NorthTerry "Tosker" Cox
1996Sharpe's MissionColonel Brand
1997Fever PitchSteve
1997GoldEd Smithson
1998Spoonface SteinbergFather
1998Man with Rain in His Shoes, TheThe Man with Rain in His ShoesDave Summers
1999TrustMichael Mitcham
1999Births, Marriages and DeathsTerry
1999In the Name of LoveChris Monroe
1999Elephant JuiceFrank
1999SunshineIstván Sors
2000BomberColonel Chris Forsyth
2000Anna KareninaOblonsky
2001To End All WarsDusty Miller
2001Martins, TheThe MartinsDoug
2001SuperstitionAntonio Gabrieli
2002Fields of GoldDr. Tolkin
2002Falling ApartPete
2003Some Place SafeDadShort film
2003It's All About LoveArthur
2003Henry VIIIDuke of Norfolk
2003Prime Suspect 6: The Last WitnessDet. Chief Supt. Larry Hall
2004Long Firm, TheThe Long FirmHarry StarksNominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2005Oliver TwistToby Crackit
2005Walk Away and I StumbleAndy Spader
2006Tristan & IsoldeWictred
2006Low Winter SunDet. Sgt. Frank Agnew
2006Scenes of a Sexual NatureLouis
2006–2012Who Do You Think You Are?Narrator
2008Miss Pettigrew Lives for a DayNick
2008Flashbacks of a FoolMannie Miesel
2008Babylon A.D.Finn
2008Body of LiesHani SalaamNominated – London Critics Circle Film Award for Best British Supporting Actor
2008GoodPhilipp Bouhler
2009EndgameDr. Niel Barnard
2009Young Victoria, TheThe Young VictoriaSir John Conroy
2009Sherlock HolmesLord Henry BlackwoodNominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (shared with Robert Downey, Jr.)
2010Kick-AssFrank D'AmicoNominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (shared with Chloë Grace Moretz)
2010Robin HoodSir Godfrey
2010Way Back, TheThe Way BackKhabarov
2011Warhammer 40,000: Space MarineTitusVoice
2011Story of Earth, TheThe Story of EarthNarrator
2011Guard, TheThe GuardClive Cornell
2011Eagle, TheThe EagleGuern
2011Green LanternSinestro
2011Secret World of Arrietty, TheThe Secret World of ArriettyPodVoice (United Kingdom dub)
2011Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyJim PrideauxCentral Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Georgia Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
YouMovie Award for Best Cast
2011Black GoldSultan Amar
2012John CarterMatai Shang
2012Zero Dark ThirtyGeorge
2013Welcome to the PunchJacob Sternwood
2013Justin and the Knights of ValourHeraclioVoice
2013Low Winter SunFrank AgnewTV series
2013The Great Martian War 1913 - 1917NarratorVoice
2013BloodRobert Seymour
2014Closer to the MoonMax Rosenthal
2014Before I Go to SleepDr. Nasch
2014MindscapeJohnAlso known as Anna
2014The Imitation GameStewart Menzies
2015Kingsman: The Secret ServiceMerlin


  1. ^ Imogen Edwards-Jones (14 March 2000). "Brightest star in Mamet's plow". Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director (from The Times). John Pavel. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Olga Craig (20 December 2009). "Mark Strong: how I put the fear factor into Sherlock Holmes". The Telegraph (London). 
  3. ^ Vincent, Sally (16 April 2005). "Hard man, soft heart". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 June 2010. He was christened a Catholic 
  4. ^ Day, Elizabeth (9 May 2010). "Robin Hood star Mark Strong: 'Real knights would have needed tea breaks'". The Observer (London). Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  5. ^ Griffin, Susan (13 May 2010). "Interview: Mark Strong". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Wymondham College Remembered (15 August 2012). "Rock & Roll Performers". Wymondham College Remembered. Wymondham College Remembered. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  7. ^ John Preston (18 February 2009). "Mark Strong: the strong, violent type". The Telegraph (London). 
  8. ^ Total Film (25 February 2009). "Mark Strong refutes No Country casting rumour". Total Film. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Mark Kermode (25 March 2007). "2007: a scorching new space odyssey". London: The Observer. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  10. ^ John Horn (1 July 2007). "Danny Boyle feels the heat with 'Sunshine'". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ Benjamin Crossley-Marra (19 July 2007). "Interview: Danny Boyle". Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  12. ^ Michael James Allen (23 July 2007). "An Interview with Danny Boyle". Lumino Magazine. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (2013-06-19). "Body of Lies Movie Review & Film Summary (2008)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  14. ^ "Accidental anti-hero". The Independent (Independent News & Media). 2007-10-19. 
  15. ^ Ignatius, David (2009-12-13). "Jordan's ex-spy chief wasn't too good to be true". Washington Post (MTV). Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  16. ^ Hemley, Matthew (26 March 2008). "C4 season to feature apartheid thriller Endgame". The Stage. Retrieved 17 April 2008. 
  17. ^ Knolle, Sharon (13 January 2010). "Hey, 'Sherlock' ... Who's This Mark Strong Fellow?". Moviefone. AOL. Retrieved 13 January 2010. Guy and I, we've done three films together now. He's surprisingly lacking in ego. He's not a shouter or a bully. He just likes to create an environment in which people can do their best work. 
  18. ^ Rich, Katey (23 December 2009). "Exclusive Interview: Sherlock Holmes Villain Mark Strong". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 23 December 2009. I like him. He's a really nice man. He's an ego-free zone. I've never known anybody to have such a different evaluation in the press as the person they are in real life. It's very odd that he's seen the way he has been, because he's incredibly easy to work with. 
  19. ^ Truitt, Brian (23 April 2010). "Mark Strong can do a 'Kick-Ass' bad guy". USA TODAY (Gannett Co. Inc.). 
  20. ^ Rob M .Worley (18 January 2010). "Mark Strong Circling GREEN LANTERN?". Mania. Mania. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  21. ^ Truitt, Brian (April 6, 2010). "Mark Strong will channel his inner David Niven for ‘Green Lantern’". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 4, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Venezia 68: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Tomas Alfredson". Venice Biennale. Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  23. ^ Staff (2011). "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  25. ^ "'The Guard' Topples 'Barley' to Become #1 Indie Irish Film". IFTN. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  26. ^ "The Guard". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  27. ^ "James McAvoy Heads to 'Welcome to the Punch'". The Wrap. The Wrap News Inc. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  28. ^ Child, Ben (January 6, 2012). "Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden film to star Joel Edgerton". The Guardian (London). 
  29. ^ UPI takes territories on Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty; Screen Daily; May 15, 2012
  30. ^ "Zero Dark Thirty" premieres in Los Angeles CBS News, December 11, 2012.
  31. ^ "Mark Strong set for ‘Sleep’". 31 October 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  32. ^ "Jorge Dorado shoots Mindscape for Jaume Collet Serra". Cineuropa. 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  33. ^ Walker, Michael (28 January 2014). "Super Bowl: Jaguar Previews Ad Featuring Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  34. ^ "Mark Strong Joins THE IMITATION GAME, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson Lead LEARNING TO DRIVE". Collider. 
  35. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (24 April 2014). "Mark Strong Joins Sacha Baron Cohen In Sony Comedy ‘Grimsby’". Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  36. ^ "Mark Strong joins Sacha Baron Cohen in cast of upcoming comedy Grimsby". Grimsby Telegraph. 
  37. ^ "Welcome to the Punch: interview with Mark Strong". 
  38. ^ "Interview: Why actor Mark Strong is an accidental anti-hero". The Independent (London). 19 October 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  39. ^ Preston, John (18 February 2009). "Mark Strong: the strong, violent type". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 18 November 2010. 
  40. ^ Fitzherbert, Henry (10 March 2013). "Mark Strong: Thankfully, my wife saw evil in me...". Daily Express. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  41. ^ "My Secret Life: Mark Strong, Actor, age 45". The Independent. 13 September 2008. 

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