Long before he was an actor, Clive Standen had a different passion: martial arts.
“From the age of 11 to 18, I did Muay Thai every day of the week,” he says.
He traveled to Thailand at 16 to train. Back home in Leicestershire, U.K., he reentered the fight circuit but soon soured on it.
“I was fighting guys older and heavier than me, but some of them didn’t have the technique,” he says. “What they really desired was a brawl. For me, it was still a gentleman’s sport.”
Everything changed when he developed a crush on a girl in the drama program.
“I didn’t get the girl, but I got the career,” Standen says.
Along the way to becoming an actor, Standen learned stage combat and sword fighting. But in his role as the brooding former Green Beret Bryan Mills in Taken, airing Friday nights on NBC, he taps into the contemporary dance classes he took in college.
“They taught me how to bend, to fall and roll, and get back up again,” Standen says.
And the 36-year-old does that a lot in Taken. In Season 1, Mills was never far from a fistfight and got hit by cars a fair amount. The stakes are even higher in Season 2. Expect gun battles, explosions, and getting thrown into a mirror. (“I feel like the writers get together and ask, ‘What else can we put Clive through?’”) Even as the stunts—most of which Standen does himself—get larger, he’s adamant they remain realistic.
“I’m not a fan of theatrics— spin kicks; running up walls,” he says. “The audience should believe everything they see.”
The physicality would take its toll on a lesser man. Standen works hard to stay in remarkable shape in order to keep peeling himself off the concrete when shooting an action scene from 10 at night until four in the morning. We caught up with him on his day off in Toronto to see how he does it.
HOW TO DO IT
Standen designed this 45-minute circuit with Jade Lindsay, his U.K.-based trainer. You’ll need a box or step (like a park bench), a pullup bar or monkey bars, and a flat patch of ground. Jog for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up and perform dynamic stretches and drills. Jog in between circuits to keep your heart rate up and reset for the next set of exercises.