How Transporter Star Ed Skrein Got His Body

The 32-year-old heir to Jason Statham’s hard-driving franchise also conquered Comic-Con in a first look at Marvel’s Deadpool. His only weakness? Bacon double cheeseburgers.

“I was a competitive swimmer for the Camden Swiss Cottage Swimming Club in North London from a very young age till about 15. In 2009, I really got back into it with two friends. We did a relay swim from England to France across the English Channel. For that, we actually had to get fat, which was wonderful. We would train like animals, but then we’d come out of the water and eat ice cream and drink beer, because you have to have a certain level of body fat to swim in water that cold.

“I did the Paris half-marathon [the year before]. Oh, man, I was the slowest runner ever! I used to say that I’m a sea creature. I’m a fish. I’m supposed to be in the water. On land, I’m just super-, super-slow.

“For The Transporter Refueled, I went to Paris and spent three weeks working on a range of martial arts—from Kali, a type of Filipino knife [and stick] fighting, to kickboxing. I wanted my look to be lean and unassuming. I didn’t want to be too bulky and muscly, so it worked well to just do martial arts, which was effectively cardio all day long.

“Whereas for Deadpool, I wanted to have a bigger silhouette for the [genetically altered] Ajax character, so I was training six days a week for strength and conditioning and five days a week for martial arts. It was very intense. When I was bulking up, I also added some more quinoa to my diet. More potatoes—sweet potatoes, predominantly. More brown rice.

“When we’re shooting, I’m pretty strict about eating. I pretty much eat a paleo, or caveman, diet. I stay away from processed foods. When I have to take my top off for a shoot, I’ll get carbs out of my diet and just eat lean. I’ve never really had a problem getting to my goal. I’ve just had to work bloody hard and be bloody disciplined.

“Every single week, I have a cheat day on Saturday. Mid-afternoon, I have whatever I feel like. When I was doing Transporter, I just wanted to eat pepperoni pizza and drink red wine. On Deadpool, it was bacon double cheeseburgers and beer. Sometimes I’d get to Saturday and I’d have to force myself to drink a beer and eat a burger, because I knew that when I got to Wednesday, I’d regret it if I didn’t.” —as told to Bill Bradley