This week’s post is going to be a little different, instead of me passing on my advice to you about fitness, grooming and the like; it will give you the advice of an actor, by giving an insight into his grooming and fitness regime. So gentleman, you always wanted to mirror that silver screen image? Here’s your chance.
First let’s begin with a little background information on our actor.
Is acting your only job?
No. I acted as a child and loved it. |I always wanted to go to drama school but it just wasn’t an option for my parents financially. I act because I love it, my career is in the civil service. I tried giving acting up once when the day job got too demanding. I think I managed eight years and then could stand it no more. I felt too miserable without it.
What made you want to become an actor?
I’ve never sought the approval of others, or so I thought. At school I moved from one group of people to another and never really cared for peer pressure. I did my own thing, never wore designer labels but opted for things I liked and enjoyed my own company. But I suppose everyone at that age feels a little bit different.
But…when it came to drama classes and improvisation in particular I realised the audience reaction did something for me. It’s only now at the age of 42 I accept we all want validating one way or another. I had convinced myself I didn’t need other people to tell me I was good but indirectly their laughter or shock was doing just that. I felt extraordinarily confident on stage. Never felt nerves (and haven’t to this day) though I do get the symptoms of nerves. I remember coming out of infant school aged 6 or 7 and my mum saying all the other mums were talking about how amazing the evil gnome was in the school play and she had wanted to go over and say I was her son. For all I know she could have been making it up but it really changed something in me. At 8 I auditioned for a role at the Palace Theatre in Manchester in Romeo and Juliet. I realised with horror as the kids filed on stage in groups of ten that they all had pieces prepared or things to do. I was new and hadn’t thought about it. So I made something up. I got through to the last 10 from about 400 kids and then was told I was too short. I remember saying (gobby even then) ‘Well I’m the same size now as I was a few moments ago on stage when you put me through’.
I’ve learned to be a little more diplomatic as I got older.
What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on to date?
Hmm – I’ve done feature films, TV projects with people I admired (and loathed) and theatre. I don’t like ranking them. They’re all really special in a variety of ways. I did a project recently where the big scene involved a bit of a breakdown. I knew the framework but had the script in hand and before I knew it the clapperboard was up, sound and cameras was rolling and I just had time to drop it before they said ‘action’. I did the take and on ‘cut’ there was an eerie silence. I thought to myself ‘Hmm, I need to ramp that up a bit and be a bit more broken’. Then the sound guy said ‘The hairs are standing up on my arm, that was amazing’, and there was a quiet ripple of appreciative feedback around the room. That was one of the best moments. When something you think isn’t good enough affects people who are involved in the project you know you’ve done a good job.
Now onto the grooming…
What does your daily grooming regime consist of?
It is like a snowball as I get older – it’s getting more and more hard work.
When I was young I had very dry skin, so I moisturised from the age of about 10…daily. Something I am very pleased I did.
I never use soap on my face, or shaving foam. I just wash with hot water and use a three blade razor with the water. I never cut myself and I don’t dry out my skin. I wash my hair daily. An OCD perhaps but I can’t abide the feeling that it isn’t clean. Once out the bath I have to moisturise and fast. It’s like I am working against the clock. If I leave it five minutes my skin dries and looks like the Giants Causeway. So I moisturise, then maybe conceal any red bits on my cheeks or purple bloom under my eyes and I’m good to go.
How does your grooming regime change when faced with an acting role?
It’s specific to the role. So on my last film I died and a few weeks later had to return to haunt the lead actor. So I have to maintain facial hair as it was that day.
On another I was meant to be a survivor of some post-apocalyptic world. You’d think I could let myself go to pot, but I can’t. I need to give the makeup artist a good canvas so I make sure my skin is especially hydrated and even use baby oil. It’s not good when they start doing the makeup and you’re flaking it off before their eyes.
Have you got any grooming tips for our readers?
Drink lots of water.
Get plenty sleep.
Try the shave without foam and give your skin a rest from having its natural oils stripped from it.
If you’re gonna wear makeup, use it to even out skin tone – not to make yourself look like a bad day in the house of wax. The idea is to enhance how you look, not put on a mask. Leave that to the very accomplished drag acts.
Finally gents, it’s time to talk fitness.
How do you stay fit on a daily basis?
I used to be a personal trainer. Back in the 2000’s when I first got the gym bug I was going 10 times a week. Very unhealthy but we all do silly things. I took a course to learn how to train others then worked in three different gyms.
Now, it is harder to get the same results, but I look a lot better than I did then. I go in, do what I have to do and get out. A mix of cardio and weights and I try to limit it to an hour and around five visits a weeks.
Does your fitness regime change depending on the acting role you’re undertaking?
Yes. I know now I need to trim down. I have a 51 inch chest, which is great for the action hero type role but I want to be a little more diverse. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as ‘bouncer’ or ‘bodyguard’. It will be hard work, and hard mentally to go smaller, but I think overall I need to lose some size.
Have you got any fitness tips or secrets that our readers could take on board?
Get a training partner. Preferably one who has strengths you don’t. I used to train with a colleague who had the most amazing arms and chest. He would effortlessly bench-press twice what I could. Rather than frustrate me it spurred me on and he was encouraging. When it came to legs, I could squat over 600lbs (though I did often black out afterwards) and he got the same kind of push from me.
Make use of the gym staff – they hate cleaning and have to do it all day until someone asks them for help. They really are happy to help. Ask for a programme or some new things to try.
If you miss a few days, as I have this last two weeks with a bad wrist, don’t beat yourself up. Because then you’ll get down and even less likely to return. The break will have done you good, allowed little injuries and niggles to sort themselves.
But most of all have specific goals. I hate the phrase ‘tone up’. It means nothing. Muscles get bigger or they shrink back down. So what is it you want? If it is to lose some body fat then say so. Get it measured and then set a plan for what you want to lose and by when. Make it achievable. Plot your progress. When you can see it you’ll achieve it. If you just say ‘Oh I wanna tone up’ you’ll drift in and out and never make any real, long lasting, progress. If you want to put on muscle get a tape measure and write down all your starting measurements. Then…train like your life depends on it and eat well. Go to bodybuilding.com for amazing diets, workouts and tips. Then after a fortnight measure yourself again. Then start to plan how much you want to build each body part up and work your ass off.
Any final words of wisdom for our readers?
Essentially, we ALL want to be validated. Be that through our work, our appearance, or whatever we do that matters to us. So, knowing that, why give anything less than your best. Decide what you want, establish if it’s possible and if it is there is no reason you can’t have it. It may be hard, but anything worth having is hard work and if you don’t work hard, maybe you never really wanted it at all.
So there we have it gents, the grooming and fitness tips of an actor. I’d like to thank him again for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us and until next time gents, good luck!