When I last met Mr Strong more than a decade ago he was appearing in a Chekhov-Shakespeare double-bill in Mr Sam Mendes' final season at the Donmar Warehouse, drinking in the applause, utterly at home. He was single, driving a beaten-up old Renault, earning £350 a week. "I don't have a family to support," he told me, "I can afford to." Not long after that, he married the producer Ms Liza Marshall, and acquired not just two sons, now aged five and eight, but a new focus on earning a living: theatre wasn't going to pay the school fees. There followed eight years of solid name-building television performances (Harry Starks in The Long Firm, the Duke of Norfolk in Henry VIII, Prime Suspect and many more) before he finally stopped work for six months to wait for film offers. Using what he calls the "time-honored entry ticket" of British actors into major studio pictures, acting nasty would become his forte.
-Text by Lesley White-
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The son of an Austrian mother and an Italian father he has never known, both his parents were young immigrants in London and he feels no resentment for what was a sometimes difficult childhood. In some ways, it gave him a useful edge: an outsider's perspective, the freedom to be his own man ("I probably wouldn't have switched from law to a drama degree if a father had been advising me"), not to mention the olive-skinned Mediterranean appearance that has made almond-eyed Arabs a speciality.