Mark Strong

Mark Strong

Born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia
(1963-08-05) 5 August 1963
Islington, London, England, UK
Nationality British
Alma mater Royal Holloway & Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Occupation Actor
Years active 1989–present
Spouse(s) Liza Marshall
Children 2

Mark Strong (born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia; 5 August 1963) is an English theatre, film and television actor. He is known for his role in the television series Our Friends in the North and films such as Syriana (2005), RocknRolla (2008), Body of Lies (2008), The Young Victoria (2009), Sherlock Holmes (2009), Robin Hood (2010), Kick-Ass (2010), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Green Lantern (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), John Carter (2012), Mindscape (2013), The Imitation Game (2014), and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014).

Early life

Strong was born in Islington, London, the son of an Austrian mother and an Italian father.[1][2]

His father left the family soon after his birth, and Strong 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.[3] He was baptised a Catholic.[4]

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").[5] His original ambition was to become a lawyer, but after studying German law at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich for one year, he returned home to London[6] and studied English and Drama at Royal Holloway, and later attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.


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). Strong portrayed the romantic lead, Mr. Knightley, in the 1996 ITV adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma. He then played the role of Steve in the 1997 film adaptation of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, opposite Colin Firth.

At the beginning of the 2000s, Strong 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 (2005), and played an assassin named 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?.

Strong at the Sherlock Holmes premiere in Berlin, 2010

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.[7] 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.[8] The character's disfiguring burns were influenced by the injuries suffered by F1 driver Niki Lauda.[9] Also in 2007, Strong portrayed Prince Septimus, the youngest of the seven Stormhold princes, in Stardust.

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, and Philipp Bouhler in Good. Also in 2008, he portrayed Hani Salaam, the Jordanian intelligence chief and director of the feared GID in Body of Lies, marking his first collaboration with English director Ridley Scott. Strong's performance as Hani Salaam earned him 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.[10] The following year, he played a lead part in the Channel 4 film Endgame,[11] and he played Lord Blackwood, the main villain, in Sherlock Holmes, 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. The film marked his third time working with director Guy Ritchie.[12] He went on to work with Ridley Scott for a second time in the 2010 epic adventure film Robin Hood, portraying the antagonist Sir Godfrey. 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.[13]

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

In 2011, he played Thaal Sinestro, Green Lantern and Hal Jordan's mentor, in the superhero film Green Lantern.[14] Strong said 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 went on to state that 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.[15] Also 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.[16]

Strong then played Clive Cornell in The Guard (2011), 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).[17] He next portrayed the role of Jacob Sternwood in the British thriller Welcome to the Punch.[18] He played Matai Shang, the leader of the Therns in John Carter (2012), and starred in Kathryn Bigelow's action thriller film Zero Dark Thirty (2012) alongside Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, and Joel Edgerton.[19][20] The film had its premiere in Los Angeles on 19 December 2012 and had its wide release on 11 January 2013.[21] The film received wide critical acclaim and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.[22]

In November 2012, Strong and Taissa Farmiga were cast as the lead characters John Washington and Anna Greene in Mindscape, produced by Jaume Collet-Serra, the feature-length directorial debut of Jorge Dorado.[23] 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 American cinemas in June 2014. Jaguar Cars produced an advertisement in 2014, initially shown during Super Bowl XLVIII and later online and on television, featuring Strong alongside fellow British actors Ben Kingsley and Tom Hiddleston. It was themed around their recent film roles as villains, and used the tagline "It's good to be bad".[24] That same year, Strong co-starred in the historical drama film The Imitation Game, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, in which he played MI6 chief Stewart Menzies.[25]

In 2015, Strong won the Olivier Award for Best Actor for his role in A View from the Bridge, which he starred in as Eddie Carbone at the Young Vic. When Strong went over to perform the play on Broadway in New York, he received similar levels of acclaim, and was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, and the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play, for his performance. In 2016, he starred in the spy action comedy Grimsby,[26] about a British black-ops spy (Strong) whose idiotic brother (Sacha Baron Cohen) is an English football hooligan.[27] In October 2016, he starred in a production of The Red Barn, by David Hare at the National Theatre, (Lyttelton Stage).

Personal life

Strong lives in London with his wife, Liza Marshall, and their two sons, Gabriel and Roman. In an interview, he said he is content living a relatively normal life in London, saying, "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. 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."[28][29][30]

Strong speaks fluent German and speaks some Italian.[31][32] He dubbed Daniel Craig's voice over in German when "German with an English accent" was required for Obsession (1997).[33]

In an interview, Strong said that his style icon is David Bowie, and when he was a child he wanted to be the French actor Alain Delon. He said, "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."[34] Strong was named one of GQ's 50 best dressed British men in 2015.[35] Like his character in Fever Pitch, he supports Arsenal FC.[34]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Century Policeman
1994 Captives Kenny
1997 Fever Pitch Steve
1998 The Man with Rain in His Shoes Dave Summers
1999 Elephant Juice Frank
1999 Sunshine István Sors
2001 To End All Wars Dusty Miller
2001 Hotel Ferdinand
2001 The Martins Doug
2001 Superstition Antonio Gabrieli
2002 Fields of Gold Dr. Tolkin
2002 Heartlands Ian
2003 Some Place Safe Dad Short film
2003 It's All About Love Arthur
2005 Revolver Sorter
2005 Oliver Twist Toby Crackit
2005 Syriana Mussawi
2006 Tristan & Isolde Lord Wictred
2006 Scenes of a Sexual Nature Louis
2007 Sunshine Pinbacker
2007 Stardust Prince Septimus
2008 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Nick Calderelli
2008 Flashbacks of a Fool Mannie Miesel
2008 Babylon A.D. Finn
2008 RocknRolla Archy
2008 Body of Lies Hani Salaam
2008 Good Philipp Bouhler
2009 Endgame Dr. Niel Barnard
2009 The Young Victoria Sir John Conroy
2009 Sherlock Holmes Lord Henry Blackwood
2010 Kick-Ass Frank D'Amico
2010 Robin Hood Sir Godfrey
2010 The Way Back Khabarov
2011 The Guard Clive Cornell
2011 The Eagle Guern
2011 Green Lantern Thaal Sinestro
2011 The Secret World of Arrietty Pod (voice) United Kingdom dub
2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Jim Prideaux
2011 Black Gold Sultan Amar
2012 John Carter Matai Shang
2012 Zero Dark Thirty George
2013 Welcome to the Punch Jacob Sternwood
2013 Justin and the Knights of Valour Heraclio (voice)
2013 Blood Robert Seymour
2014 Unity Narrator (voice) Documentary
2014 Closer to the Moon Max Rosenthal
2014 Before I Go to Sleep Dr. Nasch
2014 Mindscape John Washington
2014 The Imitation Game Stewart Menzies
2014 Kingsman: The Secret Service Merlin
2016 Grimsby Agent Sebastian Graves
2016 Approaching the Unknown Captain William Stanaforth
2016 The Siege of Jadotville Conor Cruise O'Brien
2016 Miss Sloane Rodolfo Schmidt
2017 Kingsman: The Golden Circle Merlin Post production


Year Title Role Notes
1989 After Henry Roger Episode: "Wedding Bells"
1990 The Bill P.C. Gibb Episode: "A Clean Division"
1990 Inspector Morse P.C. Mike Butterworth Episode: "Masonic Mysteries"
1990 TECX Eberhard Braun Episode: "A Question of Chemistry"
1991 One Against the Wind German Soldier Television film
1993 The Buddha of Surburbia Second TV Producer Miniseries; 1 episode
1993 Prime Suspect 3 Inspector Larry Hall Miniseries; 2 episodes
1994 Between the Lines David Lacey Episode: "A Face in the Crowd"
1996 Emma George Knightley Television film
1996 Our Friends in the North Terry "Tosker" Cox Miniseries; 9 episodes
1996 Sharpe's Mission Colonel Brand Television film
1997 Band of Gold Ed Smithson 3 episodes
1998 Spoonface Steinberg Father Television film
1999 Trust Michael Mitcham Television film
1999 Births, Marriages and Deaths Terry 4 episodes
1999 In the Name of Love Chris Monroe Television film
2000 Bomber Colonel Chris Forsyth Television film
2000 Anna Karenina Stiva Oblonsky Miniseries; 4 episodes
2002 Falling Apart Pete Television film
2003 Henry VIII Duke of Norfolk Television film
2003 Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness Det. Chief Supt. Larry Hall Miniseries; 1 episode
2004 The Long Firm Harry Starks Miniseries; 4 episodes
2005 Walk Away and I Stumble Andy Spader Television film
2006 Low Winter Sun Det. Sgt. Frank Agnew Miniseries; 2 episodes
2006–12 Who Do You Think You Are? Narrator (voice) 70 episodes
2013 The Great Martian War 1913–1917 Narrator (voice) Documentary
2013 Low Winter Sun Det. Sgt. Frank Agnew 10 episodes


Year Title Author Role Theatre Notes
1996 Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller Biff National Theatre, London[36]
1997 Closer Patrick Marber Dan National Theatre, London[37]
1998 The Iceman Cometh Eugene O’Neill Rocky Pioggi Almeida Theatre, London[38]
2000 Speed-the-Plow David Mamet Bobby Gould New Ambassadors Theatre, London[39]
2002 Uncle Vanya Anton Chekhov Astrov Donmar Warehouse, London [40]
2014 A View from the Bridge Arthur Miller Eddie Carbone Young Vic London, [41]
2015 A View from the Bridge Arthur Miller Eddie Carbone Wyndham’s Theatre London, [42]
2016 The Red Barn David Hare Donald Dodd National Theatre Lyttelton Stage, London[43]

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Kick-Ass: The Game Frank D'Amico (voice)
2011 Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Captain Titus (voice)
2013 Total War: Rome II Silanus (voice)
2016 Squadron 42
2016 Eisenhorn: Xenos Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn (voice)

Awards and nominations

Year Award Work Result
2004 British Academy Television Award for Best Actor The Long Firm Nominated
2008 London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actor Body of Lies Nominated
2009 MTV Movie Award for Best Fight Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey, Jr.) Nominated
2010 Kick-Ass (with Chloë Grace Moretz) Nominated
2011 Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Won
Georgia Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast Won
YouMovie Award for Best Cast Won
2014 Gopo Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role Closer to the Moon Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Imitation Game Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Nominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival Award for Best Ensemble Won
2015 Olivier Award for Best Actor A View from the Bridge Won[44]


  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. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  3. Olga Craig (20 December 2009). "Mark Strong: how I put the fear factor into Sherlock Holmes". The Daily Telegraph.
  4. Vincent, Sally (16 April 2005). "Hard man, soft heart". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2010. He was christened a Catholic
  5. "Rock & Roll Performers". Wymondham College Remembered. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  6. John Preston (18 February 2009). "Mark Strong: the strong, violent type". The Telegraph. London.
  7. Total Film (25 February 2009). "Mark Strong refutes No Country casting rumour". Total Film. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  8. Mark Kermode (25 March 2007). "2007: a scorching new space odyssey". London: The Observer. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  9. John Horn (1 July 2007). "Danny Boyle feels the heat with 'Sunshine'". Los Angeles Times.
  10. Ebert, Roger (19 June 2013). "Body of Lies Movie Review & Film Summary (2008)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  11. Hemley, Matthew (26 March 2008). "C4 season to feature apartheid thriller Endgame". The Stage. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  12. Rich, Katey (23 December 2009). "Exclusive Interview: Sherlock Holmes Villain Mark Strong". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  13. Truitt, Brian (23 April 2010). "Mark Strong can do a 'Kick-Ass' bad guy". USA Today.
  14. Rob M .Worley (18 January 2010). "Mark Strong Circling GREEN LANTERN?". Mania. Mania. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  15. 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.
  16. "Venezia 68: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Tomas Alfredson". Venice Biennale. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  17. "'The Guard' Topples 'Barley' to Become #1 Indie Irish Film". IFTN. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  18. "James McAvoy Heads to 'Welcome to the Punch'". The Wrap. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  19. Child, Ben (6 January 2012). "Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden film to star Joel Edgerton". The Guardian. London.
  20. "UPI takes territories on Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty". Screen Daily. 15 May 2012.
  21. ""Zero Dark Thirty" premieres in Los Angeles". CBS News. 11 December 2012.
  22. "Mark Strong set for 'Sleep'". Variety. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  23. John Hopewell (17 October 2012). "Strong, Cox, Farmiga enter 'Mindscape'". Variety.
  24. Michael Walker (28 January 2014). "Super Bowl: Jaguar Previews Ad Featuring Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  25. "Mark Strong Joins THE IMITATION GAME, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson Lead LEARNING TO DRIVE".
  26. Mike Fleming Jr (24 April 2014). "Mark Strong Joins Sacha Baron Cohen In Sony Comedy 'Grimsby'". Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  27. "Mark Strong joins Sacha Baron Cohen in cast of upcoming comedy Grimsby". Grimsby Telegraph.
  28. "Welcome to the Punch: interview with Mark Strong". City AM.
  29. "Interview: Why actor Mark Strong is an accidental anti-hero". The Independent. London. 19 October 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  30. John'Preston (18 February 2009). "Mark Strong: the strong, violent type". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  31. Day, Elizabeth (9 May 2010). "Robin Hood star Mark Strong: 'Real knights would have needed tea breaks'". The Observer. London. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  32. Griffin, Susan (13 May 2010). "Interview: Mark Strong". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  33. "Mark Strong Webchat". Empire. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  34. 1 2 "My Secret Life: Mark Strong, Actor, age 45". The Independent. 13 September 2008.
  35. "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 January 2015.
  43. ttps://

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