By Erin Strecker
Updated February 21, 2014 at 04:52 PM EST

If you sign up to play a gladiator, you know the training is going to be pretty intense. For Pompeii‘s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (a.k.a Lost‘s Mr. Eko) even before cameras rolled he was in “gladiator boot camp,” getting in shape alongside co-star Kit Harrington.

“When people say the word gladiator, it comes with a certain expectation,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje explained about his pre-filming training. “So you already know that you have to deliver that. The director, Paul W.S. Anderson, made it very clear that he wasn’t CGI-ing any of the bodies — everything was going to be shown. Also, he just wanted the actors to go through this grueling process because he wanted them to perform all their own fights. And I was up for it. It was a great challenge.”

After that kind of work, rocking EW’s Pop Culture Personality Test without breaking a sweat was no problem — even if he isn’t totally up-to-date on Katy Perry. Watch below:

Pompeii is in theaters today.