Exclusive interview with Mark Strong, from Cruella, specialist in villains

Being the bad guy often has its benefits. Who does not sympathize with the villain? And isn’t it true that for there to be a great hero, he must have a wicked man with all the letters in front of him?

If even sometimes the villain prevails over the hero (Jack Nicholson’s The Joker in the Batman by Tim Burton, or perhaps the one Heath Ledger wrote in Batman, The Dark Knighte).

Mark Strong has specialized in the field. It was the sinister Lord Blackwood in the Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr., was Doctor Sivana in Shazam!, Sinister in Green lanterne, with Ryan Reynolds, Sir Godfrey in the Robin Hood with Russell Crowe y Frank D’Amico en Kick-Ass, among many other films.

Mark Strong went to a meeting with the director of “Cruella” because he was a fan of his work. And he didn’t know that Craig Gillespie wanted him for the film. Disney Photo

And it could have been in one of James Bond, when Pierce Brosnan played it, but when he found out about the audition, he went out for drinks with his friend … Daniel Craig, overindulged, had a severe hangover, and the next morning’s test to be the villain was lousy. So he blames whoever would later become Agent 007 for his bad luck.

On Cruella is the assistant of the evil Baroness (Emma Thompson). And for now what Cruella It is now available on Disney + at no additional cost, we save the interview we did, exclusively, with the villain specialist.

Strong shared why he thinks the director included him in certain scenes in the film.  Disney Photo

Strong shared why he thinks the director included him in certain scenes in the film. Disney Photo

-Do you have any connection with Argentina?

-No, not really. I mean, I’ve always wanted to visit and go, but I’ve neglected South America. I have not had the opportunity to travel there. So yeah, if you want to invite me, I’m going.

"Great fun", Strong told Clarín, was acting with Emma Stone and Emma Thompson.  Disney Photo

“A fantastic fun,” Strong told Clarín, was acting with Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. Disney Photo

-Mark, your real name is Marco Giuseppe Salussolia, I know your father was Italian. Do you think you have any Italian roots in your way of being? In Argentina we are so many descendants of Italians …

-Yes Yes. Well, I think Argentines are very passionate people. I think Italians are too. And I feel very Italian. I have to say that every time I go to Italy and visit there, I feel like it is my home. You know, there is something about the weather, the weather, the food, the people, I just feel very comfortable there. That is the best way I can describe it. So maybe you should visit Argentina because you might feel the same.

Like the sinister Lord Blackwood in the "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey Jr. Photo File Clarín

Like the sinister Lord Blackwood in “Sherlock Holmes” with Robert Downey Jr. Photo File Clarín

-Did you see “101 Dalmatians”, the animated movie, when you were a kid?

-I did, yes, I saw the animated film when I was a child, my mother took me to the cinema to see it and I remember it very well.

He was Doctor Sivana in Shazam !, from DC Comics.  Photo Clarín Archive

He was Doctor Sivana in Shazam !, from DC Comics. Photo Clarín Archive

-And what do you remember the most, or what impressed you the most about the animated film?

-I just remember thinking how sweet and charming everyone was. I enjoyed laughing at the very incompetent robbers, the peers, they were so funny and it was a very classy movie, great and I don’t think I would have seen a Dalmatian before that.

In the fiasco that was "Green Lantern", with Ryan Reynolds, he played Sinister.  Photo Clarín Archive

In the fiasco that was “Green Lantern” with Ryan Reynolds, he played Sinister. Photo Clarín Archive

-And how did you get to the “Cruella” project?

-I got a call to meet Craig Gillespie, the director, and this was before I had a chance to read the script. He said he was making this movie and I’m a huge fan of his, I really enjoyed Lars and the real girl and I am tonya, so I was aware of him. And yes, having the opportunity to meet us was great. And that’s all I really thought would happen, we would just have a little reunion. But then he mentioned that there was this role. Then they sent me the script and, you know, I felt like it’s a character looking around from the background during the first half of the movie. And then I said, “Is that all there is?

Mark Strong in the series "Deep State".  Photo FOX

Mark Strong en la serie “Deep State”. Foto FOX

-And what did he tell you?

_He said “Yes, yes, but he is a presence. It is a presence in the film. And I think it would also be fun to play with the fact that I have done so many villains in my career, so you have a character that suddenly appears in the movie and everyone is probably convinced that it is going to be very disgusting. And of course, as the movie progresses, we realize that it may not be.

With Taron Egerton, in "Kingsman: The Golden Circle".  Photo Clarín Archive

With Taron Egerton, in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”. Photo Clarín Archive

-And what did Craig, the director, ask you to create your role? Did he ask you for something special?

-No, he just wanted me to be like a presence so that whenever we have the scenes with the Baroness (Emma Thompson), he is there, you see him. I think he used almost every shot of me watching and doing things because he wanted to build this little drama. This guy … who is this guy? What are you thinking? What are you doing? So when there is a twist in the story, it kind of pays off.

Mark Strong worked several times with Ridley Scott.  To who "Robin Hood".  Photo Clarín Archive

Mark Strong worked several times with Ridley Scott. Here in “Robin Hood”. Photo Clarín Archive

Enjoying the Emmas

-And how was interacting with Emma Stone and Emma Thompson?

-Shiny. I mean, it was fantastic fun performing with them in front of the camera, but even more fun was just hanging out with them, and chatting when the camera wasn’t rolling. Emma Thompson is really a very funny woman and she is a great company. So I was very lucky to have her as my “costar”, to act. And Emma Stone, I was impressed by the combination of professionalism that she has and a kind of attention to detail, while at the same time being able to chat and be very friendly on set, even though she is carrying the burden of the film. It was very, very impressive. I really enjoyed both Emmas.

He does not know Argentina, but if he is invited, he comes.  Disney Photo

He does not know Argentina, but if he is invited, he comes. Disney Photo

-Do you remember any particular scene or anecdote from the shoot?

-Ehmmm… In a scene we were doing. I mean, what I do remember is that a lot of the exterior scenes that we did, and I think we shot them in October or November, it was absolutely freezing cold. I mean, it was with sub-zero temperatures. And we filmed at night, outside Hell Hall (the Baroness’s mansion). Everyone is there and we are all dressed up, so you can’t wear a big coat or anything like that. So there were a lot of blankets, a lot of people with hot cups of tea. It was really a challenge, because we were freezing and filming until dawn.

With Leonardo DiCaprio in "Network of lies".  Photo Clarín Archive

With Leonardo DiCaprio in “Network of Lies”. Photo Clarín Archive

-It doesn’t look like a classic Disney movie, it’s much darker, isn’t it?

-Yes Yes. That was another reason why I thought it would be nice to work on it, because I think they have subverted their own reputation, in a way, because Disney has this reputation of being very family-friendly, very kind, very light, very funny, and all of a sudden They allowed themselves to make this kind of dark, edgy movie, which blew me away. And I think children of a certain age love that too. They love princesses and they love the wonderful element of Disney and all those characters. But I think they also like to be a little scared.

Mark Strong  en "Syriana", the movie with George Clooney.  Photo Clarín Archive

Mark Strong in “Syriana”, the film with George Clooney. Photo Clarín Archive

-And what do you like the most about playing villains?

-I like the fact that you get to behave in a way that you don’t have in real life, haha. You get into something that is almost like therapy. The anger and the threat, and the danger, and the evil, when in real life you never have a chance to do that. So it’s like playing. That’s what I enjoy playing villains, aside from the fact that they tend to get fantastic costumes and have great lines to say too.

Keira Knightley, Mark Strong y Benedict Cumberbatch en "The enigma code".  Photo Clarín Archive

Keira Knightley, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Enigma Code”. Photo Clarín Archive

-Last question: why did you choose to be an actor?

-I think I chose to be an actor because I realized that the path I was traveling when I was young was wrong for me. I was trying to be a lawyer, I went to study law, and I was a bit stuck there. I didn’t really understand it and one day I saw some people at the university, doing theater and theater workshops, and I remember asking them what they were doing, because it seemed more fun than what I was doing. And then I thought about it, and I realized the mistake. I mean, that’s the truth, the first time I went on stage I felt like it was like coming home, all of a sudden I thought, yeah, this is what I want to do. So I was lucky at the time to choose something that I have loved ever since.

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Exclusive interview with Mark Strong, from Cruella, specialist in villains