Akshay Kumar has had a wonderful career, working on Star WarsHomeland, and of course Pandora along with many more exciting projects! He tells us about those experiences, how he stays fit, and hobbies he's picked up during lockdown!

Akshay Kumar / Picture Credit: Nicholas Andrews

Akshay Kumar / Picture Credit: Nicholas Andrews

Could you please tell us about where you grew up, and where you’ve chosen to settle today?

I grew up in North-East London (well, Essex if we’re getting technical). It’s very suburban and cosmopolitan.

I was lucky enough to grow up around lots of different cultures and ways of thinking.

I’ve lived in a few different parts of London over the years, but right now, like a lot of people in this crazy time, I’m currently back at my family home. I can’t lie, there’s nothing quite like it.

One of your most notable roles was in the series Homeland, which has won numerous Emmy Awards. Can you tell us what it was like working on and being in the show?

Homeland was an incredible experience. I’d been a fan of the show for years so it was an honour to be on it. It was also my first job out of drama school, so in a way I’d happily thrown myself into the deep end of a very large, Hollywood-sized pool.

But I learned so much from that time: about sets, schedules, working with very experienced, established actors and, most importantly, to be in charge of my own work ethic. You can’t help but be in awe of these actors when you’re around them. The likes of Claire Danes, Rupert Friend, Mandy Patinkin. All masters of their craft. And lovely, lovely human beings, too. That always helps.

Any Star Wars fans reading will want to know about your time on Star Wars: Episode VIII, could you tell us a bit about it?

Ah, Star Wars. A wonderful, albeit brief experience! Long story short, I geeked out every minute I was there.

Star Wars was my childhood so it can’t be helped! The sheer size of the production was mind-boggling. I just felt like a kid who had come to Disneyland for the first time.

It was hard to be a “professional actor” when your seven-year-old inner-child is jumping around like a maniac! 

Being primarily an action star, has your diet changed since you began acting, or do you tend to change your diet if you know a job is on its way?

I’ve never really considered myself an action star, but I’ll happily take it! Thank you! And to be honest, my diet has always been pretty consistent. And boring. Boring but healthy is how I’d describe it!

Apparently I’m a “hard-gainer”, so when it comes to prepping for roles that I know will be physically demanding, I basically just try to eat double the amount of whatever I usually eat. With a few protein shakes chucked in for good measure. But “bulking up” is something my body just refuses to do, sadly. 

Do you work out regularly, or do you do so when motivation grabs you?

Typically I work out three to four times a week, focusing on different muscle groups on weekdays, and more dynamic exercises on the weekends. Like yoga or plyometrics.

Getting out of that slump is always a challenge, but I always feel better when I finally get back on it. It’s easy to stay motivated when you’re working towards something, like a project or something, but the true test is when you’re just doing it for yourself! 

I learned while doing my research that you specialise in Martial Arts? What type do you specialise in and how long have you been doing it?

My Dad introduced me to a bunch of Bruce Lee movies when I was very young (probably too young), so Martial Arts has always fascinated me.

I’ve dabbled in Wing Chun and Capoeira, but most of my formal training was in Wado Ryu Karate. I was a brown belt by the time I was 15, but then acting showed up in my life and ruined my plans of going for a black belt... Damn you, acting!

I do love doing my own stunts though, so thankfully Martial Arts still plays a part in my career. 

Can you tell us about the play you were in, titled Syndrome, which focuses on the effects of Gulf War Syndrome on returning British Soldiers?

Syndrome was a very intense experience. It was split into two acts: the first following the lives of four British soldiers in Afghanistan, and the second highlighting the effects of the Gulf War Syndrome on their minds and bodies five years later.

In the first act I played the youngest soldier in the group, Private Gabriel, who basically saw the army as a chance to get away from a hostile family environment back home.

In the second act I played a character at the complete opposite end of the spectrum: a sassy, no-bullsh*t, self-assured male escort called Tayze. All I can really say about Tayze is that he’s the most enjoyable character I’ve ever played! 

Do you think you will be doing more plays in the future? (When all is well in the world, of course!)

When all is well in the world, absolutely. I’d previously avoided stage work until Syndrome came along, but it’s safe to say that I’ve caught that bug all over again. I’m in talks with an incredible writer, actor and friend about his next play, so hopefully more news on that front later this year! 

Do you think the world of live performance will continue to adapt to the pandemic?

I hope so. I really do. If there’s one thing that performers know how to do, it’s how to adapt. It’s in our DNA! When you love what you do, you always find a way to keep doing it. No matter what. So yeah, I’m confident that the world of live performance will find a way to thrive in some form or another.

Since the recent lockdown, have you discovered any hidden talents, or perhaps a new hobby?

I’ve realised that I really enjoying painting and decorating. I’ve repainted pretty much every room in my house this past year. It brings me lots of joy and lots of focus. So if anyone needs a painter-decorator-actor-martial artist, give me a shout!  

Since you began acting, is there anything you’re particularly proud of over anything else? 

I’ve been told that I don’t give myself enough credit for the work I’ve done, so it’s rare for me to feel proud of myself. But I do take pride in the fact that I’m still here. Still working. Still learning. Still hungry and still fighting to get to where I want to go. I’ve been in this industry for 10 years, and I’ll be proud of myself if I’m still acting 10 years from now! 

Akshay Kumar / Picture Credit: Nicholas Andrews
Akshay Kumar / Picture Credit: Nicholas Andrews

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

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