Actors Doing Period Dramas Need To Hit The Gym These Days

Period dramas physicality

If you’re an actor interested in doing period drama roles you better be prepared to hit the gym and get a six pack.

Why, you ask? It’s simple really, because movie studios are doing steamier and steamier period dramas which usually means the lead male character will be expected to go shirtless and beyond, at some point. Same applies to the females, by the way.

Take the hit period drama Poldark, starring Aidan Turner (The Hobbit). Women all over the world are swooning at the sight of the bare chested, handsome British actor and the show’s ratings are through the roof.

Aidan Turner in Poldark

Aidan Turner in ‘Poldark’ (Image via Mammoth Screen)

For Matthew Macfadyen, a.k.a. Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, the movie adaptation of the period drama, it is something that comes with the territory, but that doesn’t mean the quiet thespian would necessarily agree to show his not-so-fit bare torso.

You see, director Joe Wright really had to pitch his decision to cast the tall, broody actor to Universal Studios, since he was not quite what they were looking for. Wright argued that he wasn’t looking for a “pretty boy” to play the role of the Jane Austen hero, he wanted a “proper manly man…Matthew’s a great big hunk of a guy.”

Audiences loved Macfadyen — except the Colin Firth loyal fans — but the notion that an 18th century man would have a six-pack is far fetched. Sure they were in shape because it was a much more physical time, but the definition you see in Turner for example, is the result of today’s gyms, Macfadyen tells Radio Times.

“Darcy would have been quite fit because he rode horses and all that stuff, but if I ripped off my shirt to show a six-pack…well, that’s a gym thing.”

“You do the deal and then the personal trainer gets in touch. When I see it on screen, it immediately smacks of vanity because I know what’s happened – they’ve been doing crunches, 50,000 press-ups before breakfast and a character in a period drama wouldn’t have done that.”

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood.

Transforming their bodies to get physically fit is nothing new, but studios seem to be taking it to the extreme in recent years and it’s not just limited to period dramas. The perfect example are all the superhero movies hitting the big screen lately. Have you seen those muscles?

And while Pride and Prejudice opened a lot of doors for Matthew Macfadyen and he appreciated Joe Wright staunch defense, it’s not his thing and others agree. Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington — who has a legion of female fans thanks to his shirtless fight scenes — says actors don’t necessarily want to be looked at as sexual objects.

“To always be put on a pedestal as a hunk is slightly demeaning. It really is and it’s in the same way as it is for women.”

When you see a period drama that stars a good looking, ripped actor, you know that they spent countless hours in the gym and are most likely eating like rabbits.

[Image via Focus Feature]

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