There’s method acting, and then there’s actor Ray Stevenson and his methods for getting into killer shape.
Stevenson gets in shape for each role the way his character would, so for an upcoming part in a gangster bio-pick The Irishman, he channeled a muscle-head from the 70s. We’re talking drop sets for chest and biceps and sets of pushups scattered around the day. “Think of Russell Crowe in Gladiator,” he explains. “The man looks like an ox, like he can weird a steel blade and an 80-pound shield all day long, not like he’s counting reps in a gym somewhere.” And that’s what he’s going for. In his latest part in The Book of Eli, a post-apocolyptic Denzel Washington thriller, he wanted the most futuristic approach to gaining muscle, so he went with total body circuit training. As long as he’s true to the character and not walking around in dehydrated photo-shoot shape, he’s good. “As soon as you have a gym body, people start wondering where the hell is the gym,” he says. “Especially 30 years after a nuclear holocaust.”
All his pre-film workouts are always done with his friend and stuntman Jeff Wolfe, who he’s worked with since The Punisher. “I saw a difference right away with Ray,” says Wolfe. “He was more interested in being The Punisher from the comic books, or being Denny Green in The Irishman, than being Ray Stevenson playing those roles.” The two have a closer bond than most actors and their stunt doubles, which lets Stevenson focus on his role. “When I’m doing a workout session with Jeff, I don’t have to think about anything else but the work at hand.” More than anything, Stevenson just wants his parts to look real. “It’s all got to come from the character,” he says. “That’s where I find my center.”
- Bench Press
- Bench Press
- Dumbbell Curl
- Lateral Raise
- Lat Pulldown
- Chest Fly
- Leg Press
Reps: 10-15, performed as a circuit with no rest
- Shodow Boxing
Punches per set: 10
Kicks per set: 10
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