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People in Film | Mark Strong
Updated November 10, 2011
A man of many faces and characters, be they supervillains or literary heroes, Mark Strong makes each one uniquely his own.
Mark Strong | Glamour and Sadness
In Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John le Carré’s TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY, Mark Strong plays Jim Prideaux, a strikingly handsome agent who maintains a shadow over his personal and professional history. Recruited by Bill Haydon in his Oxford days, Jim became a “Scalphunter,” an agent involved in black ops, who was disgraced when an action in Budapest went terribly wrong. Highlighting the character’s complexity, producer Tim Bevan says that “what you see with Jim Prideaux… is both a glamour and a sadness.” In playing the character of Prideaux, Mark Strong picked up on that complexity, noting, “Jim is very conscious of his sense of duty and service to his country; he would do the dirty work in the field and then come back to Circus headquarters, until he was sent out again. As a Scalphunter, he had to assume various identities in undercover work – and have more than one at the ready. He’s a very erudite Englishman, but emotionally he’s quite stunted.” In mapping out this complex emotional geography, Strong has created a figure at once fascinating and resonant. The Playlist noted in its review, “Mark Strong is heartbreaking as [Haydon’s] best friend Prideaux, hopefully demonstrating to studio types that he’s capable of a far greater range than he’s mostly played so far—watch the way that his eyes light up as he spots Firth at a party.” While Strong has often been cast in supporting roles, and then mostly as villains, his filmography showcases an artist able to craft the most remarkable characters out of any role.