Tom Hooper She gained a career from being British built gentlemen. Towering at 6’5″ above his on-screen teammates at black sailsAnd game of Thrones, And parachute academy, The former rugby player is a rare breed in Hollywood. A thoughtful dramatic actor, he has found himself one of the new masters of the action world.
“Growing up in a team sports environment, I really respond to a challenge,” says Huber, while in Vancouver.
So when the challenge is, for example, being a massive knight or an elite soldier in SAS, Hopper trains as if he’s going to war. Doing so for a decade was a unique learning experience for the rising star. Not only physically, but also mentally in dealing with expectations from himself – and from everyone else.
Now Hopper hopes to share what he’s learned with others, both on social media and through campaigns with companies he believes in, such as Fayoum—which helps improve gut health by modifying dietary habits.
men’s magazine Talk to the actor about his bumpy path to clean eating, struggles with self-image, and exciting projects he has on the horizon.
Men’s magazine: What was your introduction to fitness?
Tom Hooper: I was a skinny boy who grew up. I remember when rugby season came, I was playing with all these kids who were older than me. It was huge, and it’s the kind of sport where size really matters. I remember even at that age thinking, “I need to hit the weights.” But the internet was not as present as it is today, and if you wanted information, you had to go to physical stores to buy fitness magazines.
I actually remember emailing some random bodybuilder I found in a magazine to ask if creatine would be good for me when I was a teenager. This shows you how desperate the actions were. I was walking around with this very specific idea of what a real man was supposed to look like, and it led me down the wrong path. I would go to the gym with a real unhealthy mindset, thinking only of aesthetics.
How did that initial mindset affect the start of your acting career?
I realized early on that there was a niche opening in the market for super fit British men. At the time, the majority of these men came from America. I’m 6’5″ and gained that if I put on some real muscle I could describe myself in the world of movement. I devoted myself to this process just as if it was an athletic boot camp. That really started me on this entire fitness journey. It wasn’t long before I experienced all of these Movies and big TV shows.
Were there high expectations about your fitness for a role?
The biggest turning point in my career when I arrived black sails. the film 300 It just came out and there was all this hype about how everyone liked the Zack Snyder movie. It was definitely a moment in culture. So, in turn, as we play with these brutal pirates, this image was expected of us. I think there was pressure to look a certain way. Some were self-imposed because of what we were seeing in Hollywood. But the studio will also check in and have photos sent in to make sure we stick to our plans. They put us all together with a personal trainer, James White, who ran the Roark Gym in Cape Town, South Africa, close to the site. That was the first time I felt pressured to look a certain way for a role.
How did that affect you behind the scenes?
From the outside, and to everyone watching the show, I looked very fit and healthy. But during that time, I was feeling sluggish and found myself falling asleep in the middle of the day. It was a real roller coaster, from complacency to total meltdown. I was wondering why I couldn’t get where I want to without this struggle, and for a while I blamed genetics. Eventually I decided I needed more control and really investigated why I was feeling the way I was.
There was another time we were preparing for a promo shoot black sailsAnd we’ve all gone a little overboard with our calorie counting. I’m amazed that my lovely wife stuck to becoming my wife after that period because the diet made me a terrible human being. After one of the photoshoots, she bought me a special lunch to celebrate. I blew into her because I wanted a very specific “candy”, and bought the wrong things. She said, “Can you hear yourself?” I had to step back and re-evaluate what I was really doing.
What did you start working on?
I learned a lot about training from James during our sessions, but the nutrition I was really struggling with was. Back in the day, no one was talking about it the way they do now. It was just about getting a certain amount of calories, and less about where they came from. I was eating burgers with cheese and fries to gain weight. There wasn’t much sense in it. I had a friend, who was always so satisfied, told me to try eating clean for a while. I decided to give her everything I had.
When did you feel the benefits?
The difference was very immediate. It was crazy to me how better I felt when I was eating real food and getting away from all the processed snacks I was craving. I was addicted, and the only solution I saw was to go cold turkey. That’s when I realized how much power they have over me. I passed these stores, I was in real pain to walk away without buying anything.
I began to see how unnatural it was for me to crave sweets. They created a massive imbalance in my body. I was judged by them. That was an awakening. I decided to wean myself off everything. Not an easy task with an addictive personality, but once I got past that corner, I actually became addicted to feeling good – for not waking up with a headache and not feeling tired all the time for no reason. I became addicted to enjoying my workout again.
What is the hardest snack to give up?
Haribo gummy bears. I used to walk past the stores with Toby Stevens, who played Captain Flint black sailsAnd he’d say, “Dude, I need some candy.” I will be there with him.
Any recent challenges on your wellness journey?
during the start Umbrella AcademyThey wanted me to put myself together and turn myself into a little monster. Then, a few weeks before filming, they decided we were going to use this massive muscle suit. I immediately had to bend over after putting in so much mass. This led me to try things like fasting and the keto diet.
I don’t think most people stick to the true principles of the keto diet, which is to constantly check your body to see if you’re in ketosis. For me, it’s something I dip into and get out of. I’ll feel good for a few days, then start to deplete a little. Intermittent fasting works right away. Even when I’m not sticking to it hard all day, I’ll train in the morning – including on set when there’s usually breakfast and someone asks what you want to eat. I used to tell them I wouldn’t need anything until the afternoon.
It was almost the end of season one when I first came across this company Viome. I read that they were testing the microbiome of your gut based on your stool. At first I was a little conservative about this concept, but I eventually reached out to them.
What was the turning point?
A friend, Bobby Maximus, used it to fix a serious stomach problem he was having. They helped him figure out which foods had a negative effect on his system and heal his gut – with food. This made me curious.
I was not only looking for ways to improve my health, but also for my son Freddy, who has autism. What I’ve learned is that poor gut health can make autism symptoms more severe. At the time, my wife and I were having a rough time with Freddy, and we were looking for anything that would make our lives easier. So we decided to do microbiome testing together as a family, and when we received the results, we committed to following up.
I loved how simple it is to break down wholesome foods, good foods, and foods that look like poison to your body. I was surprised to find out that bananas were a food that Freddy was supposed to avoid, but they were a great food for me. So when I had one, I would naturally share it with him – with no idea it was affecting him differently and causing these problems in his gut. We noticed an immediate improvement in his behavior. It was really shocking how quickly things changed, from his moods to his sleep patterns.
What about your dietary shift? Did you feel the benefits too?
I’m definitely starting to see similar effects for myself. Before that, I had spent a lot of energy avoiding carbs. But as soon as I learned some of them were on my superfood list, I realized I was depriving myself of some positive nutrition. I’ve been eating carbs and looking and feeling better than ever. I’ve also learned to enjoy real food – because once you lose that addiction to sugars and additives, you’ll really start tasting things again.
The gut is constantly evolving. So when you take the test six months later or a year later, you’ll see how much things can change. Sometimes foods that were on your avoid list are now good to enjoy again because a particular issue has been resolved. What I’ve learned is that it’s all about making positive shifts and adapting your eating habits when necessary. I entered season two feeling like a new guy.
Absolutely. I know a lot of people are struggling with their mental health, especially after the year we’ve had it. We all know the obvious things that can help, like exercise. But I don’t think people talk enough about how the wrong foods can make things worse. How, say, the vagus nerve — which connects your gut to your brain — isn’t just a one-way street. People are used to thinking if you feel bad it will be how your stomach feels. Now we know that nerve is more like a highway. An upset gut can have a negative impact on our mental health, too.
How do you deal with all the attention you give to your appearance?
I struggled a lot with a body glitch. No matter who you are, there is this image in your head of what you think you should look like as opposed to what you see in the mirror. For me, the director is to be satisfied with the best version of me and follow it completely – not someone on a movie poster.
I know that if I post on Instagram where I’m shirtless, there will be toxic, unproductive comments. I’ve gotten so much better at Post and Shadows these days that I don’t really read any of it. It is better to spend this time elsewhere.
What drives you to be so open on social media about your training and other wellness activities?
I understand that I am one of those guys who are categorized to look a certain way. But I also want to be able to tell how easy and fun the journey is – and a lot can be done by implementing very simple lifestyle changes. People ask me all the time how I have the discipline to keep fit. How can I enjoy life when I am so restricted? I actually enjoy every bit of the process – and I enjoy every bite of real food I taste.
Were there any adjustments to your training for upcoming projects – including Season 3 of Umbrella Academy and the vampire Reboot.
I always like to keep training fresh, so I am constantly changing the type of movements I do. I will pull new shows on social media from people like Marcus is skilled, my friend Bobby Maximus, And I’m Patrick. I love people who do something different and go against the status quo, especially when it works. I’m constantly training, so when it comes to overall wear – like vampire—It just means eating more of those good foods that I’m already eating. I think people will really enjoy the reboot, especially fans of the game.
Wading in Umbrella AcademyI sustained a shoulder injury while doing a standard lift. It was just one of those silly things when the weight doesn’t move properly. I did stem cells and platelet rich plasma, which helped treat it well, and adapted my training to put less stress on it without sacrificing what I had built so far. It was difficult, especially because of how taxing the muscle suit was on my arms, but I was able to make it work. This is my favorite season we’ve done so far.
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