When I tell Mark Strong, the handsome English actor with a jaw line perfectly suited to his last name, that he is almost unrecognizable as the alien enforcer Sinestro in the new Green Lantern movie he is chuffed.
“Good,” he says. “I miss the fact that I can’t be somebody that people don’t know. I wish that people would encounter Sinestro and say, ‘Who is that guy?’ Because to blend into the characters dates back to my theatre roots. In drama school I played the 75 year old character of Moses in Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, aged 24. The transformation is the thing I enjoyed most of all.”
But what kind of movie star likes to go unrecognized? Surely not someone who has starred in Guy Ritchie and Ridley Scott movies and acted opposite the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Leonardo DiCaprio?
“The truth is I’ve never courted fame,” he says. “I don’t have a PR machine working for me. I don’t go to premiers and openings that I’m not involved in. I don’t do interviews or try and get on the telly just to keep my face around.”
An alum of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Strong, he doesn’t buy into the North American idea of stardom.
“It is a job,” he says. “That’s what we’re trained for. I think the fact that we have hundreds of years of tradition of acting in Britain… it isn’t exotic [to us]. It is a craft. For me film is exotic.”
Although he has high praise for the work ethic of recent co-stars Ryan Reynolds and Taylor Kitsch (from the upcoming sci fi epic John Carter) he’s not sure when some actors became divas.
“When did it become not a job, I wonder? Was it the advent of huge payments to film stars; when being a film star became really sexy and then actors had to somehow justify making that amount of money so they turned it into something mystical?”
Don’t look for Strong to go Hollywood anytime soon and demand a covered walkway between his trailer and the set. With three movies set for release this year and two new movies scheduled to shoot between now and January he’s doing what he likes best—keeping busy.
“It’s all about the work. I’ve never tried to be a big movie star. What I want to be is a successful actor.”
More from Mark Strong on The Green Lantern:
“The thing I responded to initially was the look of Sinestro—that iconic look which I subsequently discovered is based on the look of David Niven—the mustache and the widow’s peak. I thought if we could make that flesh it would be amazing. There are people who love this stuff and not only love it but live and breath it and I felt a great responsibility to deliver what was in the comics.”