Who’s the ultimate “that guy” you see in a whole bunch of different roles, carving up screens small and silver with charisma and talent? No, not Stanley Tucci (good guess, though). We’re talking about the British actor Mark Strong, who’s stepping out of the supporting shadows to play the lead in Deep State, a spy thriller about a former MI6 agent who reluctantly comes out of retirement.
So where do you know him from? Let’s take a look…
Sherlock Holmes needs a strong villain – and he’s it
If Robert Downey Jr is the world’s greatest detective (not Batman), it makes sense that his arch-nemesis would be none other than Mark Strong. Matching wits from either side of jail bars, Sherlock Holmes and Lord Blackwood build an atmosphere of creepy menace that makes this one of the more surprisingly good adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work.
Green Lantern wasn’t great… but Mark was
It took Deadpool before Ryan Reynolds found the superhero he was born to play, but Strong was effortlessly cool as Sinestro, Hal Jordan’s strict, sneering mentor with the ruddy complexion and David Niven moustache. In this training scene, he shows exactly what those sweet lantern rings can do, and almost makes us wish there’d been a sequel so we could see him in villainous yellow action like his comic-book counterpart.
The Brothers Grimsby made him the consummate straight man
Playing his usual hard-nosed self in full-bore technothriller mode, Mark makes this incredibly stupid but incredibly fun Sacha Baron Cohen vehicle – an old-fashioned “odd couple” joint – work like a charm. If you haven’t seen it because you think you’re better than us, at least check out the trailer so you know what we mean.
The Imitation Game has him playing Spy vs Spy
Benedict Cumberbatch is the main event in this biopic about famed mathemagician Alan Turing, but as always Mark is there with a performance that lets you know he knows you know he knows more than he’s letting on at every turn. He plays MI6 agent Stewart Menzies, who recruits Turing into helping him leak false information to the Commies. Watch him play the man like a fiddle:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has him practising more espionage games
It’s fairly clear that Mark is MI6 material, at least on screen. The opening scene of this Le Carre adaptation sees John Hurt prepare our man for a clandestine operation in Budapest that quickly goes awry. If this was his only appearance in the film, he’d still get points for contributing to the sense of time and location, but fortunately he also retur- ahh, spoilers…
Kingsman: The Secret Service shows him having fun in style
If you’re looking for a dapper, capable British gentleman who knows how to wear a suit and how to head-butt one’s opponent with grace, Mark Strong is your man. In this comic-book adaptation, he plays Merlin, the consummate spy-trainer. As a cheat, we’re showcasing a scene from the sequel here, because he’s just that awesome… and proves he can sing as well as act.
RocknRolla’s best scene is this slap-happy explanation
Like many great writer-directors, Guy Ritchie has a certain way with dialogue. In this case, Mark plays a dodgy fixer called Archy, who takes the time out of his evening to explain to his underlings how and why you should learn to slap people. It’s that trademark mix of funny and cool, underplayed and endlessly rewatchable.
John Carter was a great film don’t @ us
Mark Strong plays Matai Shang, leader of the Therns, and rules – like the rest of the flick.
Deep State starts Wednesday 22 August at 9:35pm on SBS.