Mark Strong

Mark Strong (born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia; 5 August 1963) is an English actor. He is best known for his roles in films, such as Prince Septimus in Stardust (2007), Lord Henry Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes (2009), Frank D'Amico in Kick-Ass (2010), Jim Prideaux in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), George in Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies in The Imitation Game (2014), Merlin in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), and Dr. Thaddeus Sivana in Shazam! (2019).

Mark Strong
Strong at the 2019 WonderCon
Marco Giuseppe Salussolia

(1963-08-05) 5 August 1963
ResidenceLondon, England
EducationUniversity of Munich
University of London
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Liza Marshall

Early life

Strong was born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia on 5 August 1963 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."[3] As a child he wanted to become an actor because of French actor Alain Delon, later saying, "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."[3]

When he was a child, his mother changed his name to Mark Strong, by deed poll, to help him fit in with his peers.[4] He was baptised a Catholic.[5] He 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 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 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?.

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 in Sunshine (2007). 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.[9] The following year, he played a lead part in the Channel 4 film Endgame,[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

In 2011, he played Thaal Sinestro, Green Lantern and Hal Jordan's mentor, in the superhero film Green Lantern.[13] 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.[14] Also in 2011, he voiced Pod in The Secret World of Arrietty and 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 film adaptation 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.[15]

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).[16] He next portrayed the role of Jacob Sternwood in the British thriller Welcome to the Punch.[17] 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.[18][19] The film had its premiere in Los Angeles on 19 December 2012 and had its wide release on 11 January 2013.[20] The film received wide critical acclaim and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.[21]

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.[22] 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".[23] 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.[24]

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,[25] about a British black-ops spy (Strong) whose idiotic brother (Sacha Baron Cohen) is an English football hooligan.[26] Also that year, he starred in a production of The Red Barn, by David Hare, which premiered in October 2016 at the National Theatre, (Lyttelton Stage), and co-starred in the political thriller film Miss Sloane, directed by John Madden.[27] The film premiered at the AFI Film Festival in November 2016.[28]

In 2018, Strong starred alongside Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace in hostage thriller Stockholm,[29] and had the leading role in Fox network's Deep State, an espionage thriller in which he portrays an ex-spy named Max Easton, who after the death of his son, is brought out of retirement unwillingly, to avenge his death. In 2019, he portrayed the villain Doctor Thaddeus Sivana in the superhero film Shazam!.[30][31]

Personal life

Strong lives in London. He said in October 2007, "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."[32][33][34]

Strong speaks fluent German and some Italian.[35][36] He dubbed over Daniel Craig's voice in German when "German with an English accent" was required for the 1997 drama film Obsession.[37]

In an interview, Strong said that his style icon is David Bowie. He was named one of GQ's 50 best dressed British men in 2015.[38] He supports Arsenal FC.[3]



1997Fever PitchSteve
1998The Man with Rain in His ShoesDave SummersAKA Twice Upon a Yesterday
1999Elephant JuiceFrank
SunshineIstván Sors
2001To End All WarsDusty Miller
The MartinsDoug
SuperstitionAntonio Gabrieli
2002Fields of GoldDr Tolkin
2003Some Place SafeDadShort film
It's All About LoveArthur
Oliver TwistToby Crackit
2006Tristan & IsoldeLord Wictred
Scenes of a Sexual NatureLouis
StardustPrince Septimus
2008Miss Pettigrew Lives for a DayNick Calderelli
Flashbacks of a FoolMannie Miesel
Babylon A.D.Finn
Body of LiesHani Salaam
GoodPhilipp Bouhler
2009EndgameNeil Barnard
The Young VictoriaSir John Conroy
Sherlock HolmesLord Henry Blackwood
2010Kick-AssFrank D'Amico
Robin HoodSir Godfrey
The Way BackAndrei Khabarov
2011The GuardClive Cornell
The EagleGuern / Lucius Caius Metellus
Green LanternThaal Sinestro
The Secret World of ArriettyPod (voice)United Kingdom dub
Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyJim Prideaux
Black GoldSultan Amar
2012John CarterMatai Shang
Zero Dark ThirtyGeorge
2013Welcome to the PunchJacob Sternwood
Day of the FalconSultan Amar
Justin and the Knights of ValourHeraclio (voice)
BloodRobert Seymour
2014UnityNarrator (voice)Documentary
Closer to the MoonMax Rosenthal
Before I Go to SleepDr Nasch
MindscapeJohn WashingtonAKA Anna
The Imitation GameStewart Menzies
Kingsman: The Secret ServiceMerlin
2016GrimsbySebastian Graves
Approaching the UnknownCaptain William Stanaforth
The Siege of Jadotville Conor Cruise O'Brien
Miss SloaneRodolfo Schmidt
20176 DaysMax Vernon
Kingsman: The Golden CircleMerlin
2018The Catcher Was a SpyWerner Heisenberg
StockholmGunnar Sorensson
2019Shazam!Dr. Thaddeus Sivana


1989EastEndersTelephone Engineer1 episode
1989After HenryRogerEpisode: "Wedding Bells"
1990The BillP.C. GibbEpisode: "A Clean Division"
1990Inspector MorseMike ButterworthEpisode: "Masonic Mysteries"
1990TECXEberhard BraunEpisode: "A Question of Chemistry"
1991One Against the WindGerman SoldierTelevision film
1993The Buddha of SuburbiaSecond TV ProducerMiniseries; 1 episode
1993Prime Suspect 3Inspector Larry HallMiniseries; 2 episodes
1994Between the LinesDavid LaceyEpisode: "A Face in the Crowd"
1996EmmaGeorge KnightleyTelevision film
1996Our Friends in the NorthTerry "Tosker" CoxMiniseries; 9 episodes
1996Sharpe's MissionColonel BrandTelevision film
1997Band of GoldEd Smithson3 episodes
1998Spoonface SteinbergFatherTelevision film
1999TrustMichael MitchamTelevision film
1999Births, Marriages and DeathsTerry4 episodes
1999In the Name of LoveChris MonroeTelevision film
2000BomberColonel Chris ForsythTelevision film
2000Anna KareninaStiva OblonskyMiniseries; 4 episodes
2002Falling ApartPeteTelevision film
2003Henry VIIIDuke of NorfolkTelevision film
2003Prime Suspect 6: The Last WitnessDet. Chief Supt. Larry HallMiniseries; 1 episode
2004The Long FirmHarry StarksMiniseries; 4 episodes
2005Walk Away and I StumbleAndy SpaderTelevision film
2006Low Winter Sun (UK TV series)Det. Sgt. Frank AgnewMiniseries; 2 episodes
2006–12Who Do You Think You Are?Narrator (voice)70 episodes
2013The Great Martian War 1913–1917Narrator (voice)Documentary
2013Low Winter Sun (U.S. TV series)Det. Sgt. Frank Agnew10 episodes
2018Deep StateMax Easton8 episodes
2019The Dark Crystal: Age of ResistanceOrdon (voice)Netflix series; 4 episodes
2019TempleDaniel MiltonTV Series; 8 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role
2010 Kick-Ass: The Game Frank D'Amico
2011 Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Captain Titus of the Ultramarines
2013 Total War: Rome II Silanus
2016 Eisenhorn: Xenos Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn
2018 Battlefield V Single Player Narrator
TBA Squadron 42 Captain Thomas Wade


1996Death of a SalesmanArthur MillerBiff LomanNational Theatre, London[39]
1997CloserPatrick MarberDan WoolfNational Theatre, London[40]
1998The Iceman ComethEugene O'NeillRocky PioggiAlmeida Theatre, London[41]
2000Speed-the-PlowDavid MametBobby GouldNew Ambassadors Theatre, London[39]
2002Uncle VanyaAnton ChekhovMikhail Lvovich AstrovDonmar Warehouse, London[42]
2014A View from the BridgeArthur MillerEddie CarboneYoung Vic, London[43]
2015Wyndham's Theatre, London[44]
2015–16Lyceum Theatre, New York
2016–17The Red BarnDavid HareDonald DoddNational Theatre, London[40]

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[45]
2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play Nominated
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play Nominated
Theatre World Award Won
2019 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain Shazam! Nominated


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  2. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  3. "My Secret Life: Mark Strong, Actor, age 45". The Independent. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  4. Craig, Olga (20 December 2009). "Mark Strong: how I put the fear factor into Sherlock Holmes". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. Vincent, Sally (16 April 2005). "Hard man, soft heart". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2010. He was christened a Catholic
  6. "Rock & Roll Performers". Wymondham College Remembered. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
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  16. "'The Guard' Topples 'Barley' to Become #1 Indie Irish Film". IFTN. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  17. "James McAvoy Heads to 'Welcome to the Punch'". The Wrap. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  18. Child, Ben (6 January 2012). "Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden film to star Joel Edgerton". The Guardian. London.
  19. "UPI takes territories on Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty". Screen Daily. 15 May 2012.
  20. ""Zero Dark Thirty" premieres in Los Angeles". CBS News. 11 December 2012.
  21. "Mark Strong set for 'Sleep'". Variety. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  22. Hopewell, John (17 October 2012). "Strong, Cox, Farmiga enter 'Mindscape'". Variety.
  23. 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.
  24. "Mark Strong Joins THE IMITATION GAME, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson Lead LEARNING TO DRIVE". Collider.
  25. Fleming Jr, Mike (24 April 2014). "Mark Strong Joins Sacha Baron Cohen In Sony Comedy 'Grimsby'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  26. "Mark Strong joins Sacha Baron Cohen in cast of upcoming comedy Grimsby". Grimsby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014.
  27. Donnelly, Matt (12 September 2015). "Jessica Chastain Gun-Control Thriller 'Miss Sloane' Sells to EuropaCorp in Toronto". TheWrap. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  28. Monji, Jana (12 November 2016). "AFI Fest 2016: "Miss Sloane"". Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  29. "Cannes: Noomi Rapace Boards Action-Thriller 'Close'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  30. Kit, Borys (2 November 2017). "'Shazam!': Mark Strong in Talks for Villain Role". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
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  40. "Mark Strong and Hope Davis lead the cast of 'The Red Barn', a new play by David Hare" (PDF). National Theatre. 18 July 2016.
  41. Wolf, Matt (16 April 1998). "Review: 'The Iceman Cometh'". Variety. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
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