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Q&A with Mark Strong

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Mark Strong is used to portraying the bad guy (he ripped out George Clooney’s fingernail in Syriana). But this month the 45-year-old British actor offers a gentler take on the heavy in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, and Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies.

Compare working with Guy Ritchie and Ridley Scott.
Guy moves very quickly. He sets up a shot, two or three takes, moves on. Ridley at times had four different camera crews filming one scene. And this isn’t for an action scene; it’s for a talking scene.

You’re impeccably dressed in both films, but your suits in Body of Lies seem to be a cut above.
We went to a very exclusive Savile Row tailor. A Middle Eastern gentleman, a billionaire, had ordered some, paid for them, and I think the story is that he passed away. They were 100 percent what we were after. [The tailor] let us borrow them for the shoot. As we were walking out, he said, ”Hold on a second, I just need to check the buttons. I just want to make sure they’re not solid gold.”

You’re reteaming with Ritchie for Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr., and playing a villain named Blackwood. Was he ever in the books?
Blackwood doesn’t exist [in the books], but he’s very much a classic [Arthur Conan] Doyle character in that he’s unremittingly evil. I love to play the bad guy and try to find something in him that makes him likable, but I’m going to be hard-pressed to do that with this one.

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