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Theaters are about to get a whole lot manlier with the release of 300: Rise of an Empire. The next chapter in the 300 franchise promises to be as action-packed and visually stunning as the first — and it’s bringing back the impressive rock-hard bodies of the movie’s actors.
I had the chance to chat with actor Callan Mulvey, who plays Scyllias in the 300 series and can also be found in the new Captain America. He offered some pretty awesome fitness advice and a little insight into the goings-on of a movie actor destined for Sparta.
Callan Mulvey On Training For 300: Rise Of An EmpireThe 300 movies are well-known for the characters having a certain physique; what kind of fitness program did you need to maintain to be 300-ready?
In the lead-up to and throughout the shoot we were trained by the masterful Mark Twight and his team from Gym Jones. The training program was, ahh… intense, to say the least! He kicked our arses on a daily basis, but time was limited. It was also diverse, which was very cool in that it stopped it from getting monotonous. Before the cameras rolled, we were training six days a week, and once shooting began, we trained on non-shoot days.
The goal was to be able to move and fight like our characters would, and the aesthetic was just the end result. Our amazing fight coordinator Damon Caro and his guys then tailored our fight-training program and fighting style to our characters in a very specific way. For example, my character had bigger power moves, whilst Scyllias' son Calisto (Jack O'Connell) had more of a capoeira fighting style — fast, with almost a liquidity to him.
Before shooting began, we usually had two to three hours of stunt training in the morning, plus learning our fight sequences, followed by lunch in the van on the way to two hours of gym training in the afternoon.
How important was your eating plan to create the body for your role?
Extremely. Whilst what you do in the gym is critical, it's the other 22 hours that can undo all the hard work. So it was a strict diet of red meat, fish and chicken, with bell peppers or green beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You get over it really quickly.
Diets: love them or loathe them?
Diets suck. I love sugar. I love carbs. In my experience, being too extreme and denying yourself is setting yourself up to fail. I try to have a healthy balance. I don't deny myself when I really want something, but I don't go crazy and eat everything in sight when I do. I also don't run myself into the ground when I train, and I'll have a day off if I feel like it.
Was there any part of your fitness regime for 300: Rise of an Empire that you will adopt as part of your regular routine?
I am much more educated now about how to achieve the desired goal, and as I mentioned before, I'm not as extreme in my pendulum swings. I used to go from binging, eating whatever I wanted and not exercising at all, to straight into just salads, meat, no sauce or flavors, coupled with big gym sessions, and I would just burn out after a short time and end up back at square one. Now, I don't go as hard on either side.
If I really want something I shouldn't be eating, I have a little bit of it and don't deny myself. Then I find I can stay on track. In the gym, I have a stronger mentality now. As we all know, your mind is the first to give up. I've learned how to push through more than I used to. Also, one of the biggest lessons was warming up properly and being very aware of correct form. In all those months of training with Mark Twight, doing some really strenuous training, I never suffered a single injury or niggling pain. I had a head-on at 100 kilometers an hour (62 mph) years ago and my left leg got absolutely hammered. Mark not only managed to train around that and still get the desired overall result, but he actually improved my mobility and strength in my leg.