Hollywood star Stephen Graham gets in shape for role of feared gangster
He's a Hollywood star who is getting in shape for his latest acting role – but Stephen Graham isn't one for fancy celebrity fitness studios.
The Liverpudlian actor, who has appeared in films including Gangs of New York, Snatch, This Is England and Pirates of the Caribbean, is training at a new Leicester gym to stay close to his Ibstock home.
Stephen is getting fit for his role in season four of HBO's acclaimed Boardwalk Empire.
The extra muscle will also come in handy for a forthcoming film for Columbia, about two brothers who "get involved in some shady situations", which he starts shooting in September.
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However, Stephen also wants to get fit so he can keep up with his two children, Grace, eight, and Alfie, six.
The actor spoke to the Mercury during a training session at the gym.
"I play Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire and a lot of people don't know he was quite a talented boxer in his day," he said.
"This season we're going to see a bit of growth to his character. I've been playing him leading up to this position and now he's going to be taking control in Chicago.
"I'm also doing a film called Columbia later on in the year. That's about two brothers from Manchester who go to Columbia and I'm preparing myself because there are a few fight scenes.
"It's also a personal choice. I'm getting older – I'm in my late-30s now – and you think you're reasonably fit, but then I did a run around a field with my kids and realised I needed to start looking after myself.
"I want to have fun with my kids."
Stephen is working out at the gym, which opened last month on the Faircharm industrial estate, off Narborough Road, with personal trainer Mark Jarvis.
Mark is sparring with him in the ring and getting him to lift weights.
"I've been coming for a few weeks now and Mark is a fantastic personal trainer," said Stephen. "I like this place because some gyms can be a bit – how can I phrase this nicely – a bit pretentious, and sometimes a bit intimidating. But everyone here's dead relaxed and down to earth.
"I try to get down about twice a week and I'm doing boxing and a little bit of weight lifting – but not too much of that because I don't want to bulk up too much.
"Mark isn't too much of a sergeant major, he's nice to me, but he pushes me hard and it's slowly building up.
"It's good, I'm enjoying it. And it's not far from where I live, which is great."
Stephen has lived in Ibstock, in north west Leicestershire, for several years. He lives with his wife, Hannah Walters, who is also an actor, and Grace and Alfie.
He said he loved being a part of the village community.
"For me it's all about family and having them and your close friends around you," he said.
"I'm very lucky because I can travel to LA or New York or wherever to film, but Ibstock is my base and always will be."