Height: 213 cm/7’
Weight: 145 kg/320 lbs
Build: Extremely Muscular Nationality: Australian
Ethnic Range: Anglo-Celtic
Conan Stevens has acted in numerous feature films over the years. Currently he plays the role of “Gregor Clegane” in the highly anticipated HBO Series, GAME OF THRONES, starring Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and many others.
His current acting credits can be found at imdb.com.
1)Please tell us about your secret of achieving so many things in such a short span of life (Chess champion, Australian heavyweight wrestling champion, surfing awards, acting, stunts, working in the ballet,etc.)?
Ans) The secret comes down to not working 9 to 5, this gives me so much more time to chase my ambitions and to do the things that most people don’t have the time to do.
Probably being active as a child helped with this too. I remember my Mum coming in one sunny Saturday (it’s always sunny in Australia) and saying “What are you doing inside watching TV on a day like this, get outside and don’t come home until the streetlights come on.” That was pretty much a standing rule in our house, TV was for night time or rainy days… and rightly so.
Q2)How did you get started in the film industry?
This was a conscious decision at the age of 16. My friends and I had started bodybuilding as a sport to build or muscles because we wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.My first foray into professional film was playing a Professional Wrestler in a TV Commercial, this was followed by several more TV commercials were in I played the “Big Guy” and a phone call from a new agent “How would you like to act as the Title Role in a major US production? They are looking for a muscular actor, minimum height 6’4″ preferably 6’8″+ has to be fit and professionally dance trained”
Two days later I got a call from my acting agent – the Manthing movie people want to meet you Monday morning 9am. I went in, was interviewed and I got the job. That is exactly how l got my first movie role and I was playing the title role, not a bad start.
(Q3)What difficulties you faced and how did you overcome on those?
The biggest difficulties I have had as an actor are (l) location and (ii) my height so I went about changing things to make these work to my advantage.
First about my height, I never really saw it as a disadvantage until a few years ago when a reader of my website pointed out that if I was more ‘normal’ sized I would have had so many more auditions to go to and the possibility of so much more work. This is in fact true and something that I was aware of but had never given any consideration to.
Today I see myself as not just a big guy in the movies but as a physically
dominating actor who has the basics of many fight styles covered. I am in no way an expert in any particular style but I can do whatever is asked of me (so far) and get the job done.
The second big problem I had in Australia was that TV mainly showed American shows, as the cinema, there was little work available in the Australian movie business for me. Many of my stuntman friends had irregular jobs as day labourers to pay the bills between movies.
I eventually got around this by moving to Thailand on the chance I might get a few days work as a stuntman in a children’s movie, Powerkids. I arrived in Thailand, met the Assistant Director and then talked my way into a major role in another movie that they were planning on. Several weeks later while waiting to film in Powerkids I got several auditions and got a part in another TV commercial and then a part in a French pirate movie just another month after that.
You see Thailand has a very active movie industry and since Thai is the local language there are no outside nations programming for them so they had the freedom to make their own movies without competing against better funded and more experienced competition (as was the case in Australia vs American film).
I really felt appreciated when I arrived on the acting scene in Thailand, where today I am a recognised celebrity.
(Q4)Please tell us about your role in current HBO series “GAME OF THRONES”.
A Game of Thrones is based on the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin. The books, like the HBO TV show (SKY will be carrying the show in the UK) I play Ser Gregor Clegane a monstrous knight armoured like a medieval Sherman tank, and as horrifying on the battlefield. Gregor is the “enforcer” for the House of Lannister, typically regarded as the bad guys in the series. Of the bad guys Gregor stands out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of pure cruelty and vileness as well as physically.
Gregor is a man of few words, more a man of action, often direct violent and very effective action.
This is my first role in what I consider ‘A’ grade Hollywood, the biggest production I have worked in so far with the most experienced team I have yet met. For me it is an honour to be working at this level.
Q5) What are your future plans?
That will take more time than any other question if I was to answer it fully. In short my answer is to continue getting work in big internationally recognised movies until I gain a starring or co-starring role (probably as a bad guy) in a BIG name movie. During that time I will continue working on increasing my Internet presence, finish writing several books under development, refine my next movie script, and hopefully film a workout DVD that was interrupted last year by a motorcycle accident that left me with a broken thumb.
Q6)Please tell us about your normal diet. How do you eat to stay in shape?
There are several important components to this, each very important and the combination taken together work synergistically to increase the overall effect on your body’s composition.
First and foremost I eat natural foods almost exclusively, natural meaning the food I eat comes from the ground or from an animal, there is no list of
ingredients to tell me what is in my food.
The most heavily processed food would I eat on a regular basis is rolled oats and twice a week I would drink either milk or soy milk everything else I eat comes from the farmers markets.
I only drink water, 4 to 6 litres a day, or as mentioned twice a week milk or soy milk. At the gym I will sip a sports drink I make myself from glucose powder and a commercially available electrolytic powder from the pharmacy. Besides that I only drink water. Why people incessantly drink sugar pops/juices and pour high doses of quick acting, fat building, empty calories down their throats is beyond me.
Eating one real living orange will be more beneficial to you than drinking 2 litres of steralised, processed orange juice.
I eat small meals frequently. I eat every two hours, day and night but that is a side effect from my fast metabolism and my huge amount of lean muscle mass that needs to be fed energy continually, the average person should try for 5 or 6 smaller meals a day. This will increase your metabolism, reduce your hunger and therefore your appetite when you do eat. Keeping your energy input more constant and level will keep your blood sugar levels more stable and thus you’ll be less likely to store the the fat you would have if you had 2 or 3 large meals a day.
The last 4 hours before I go to bed I only eat very small amounts of carbohydrates, none at all is better. Carbohydrates provide your body with its easiest energy source, they also get stored as fat if your do not use them – so why eat them and go to sleep? guess what happens to that ice cream and chocolate cake you just ate – fat.
I can/do eat sweets after training when your muscles are trying to replace their energy reserves, this is the one time you can eat sweets and the energy consumed will go to the right place – your muscle cells and therefore cannot be stored as fat.
Q7)Please tell us about your exercise routine?
Walking first thing in the morning, before you eat, when you have low blood sugar levels forces your body to burn stored fats as an energy source. I do this when I need to lose additional fat or look good for a movie role.
Besides that I train hard in the gym an average of 4 days a week, preferably early mornings for me, for about an hour at a time. That is an hour of solid. Often I do not rest between sets but train another body part during the time most people use to rest between sets.
For example say I am training my chest, between sets I will pop over and do a set of calves while I am resting my chest, this keeps my heart rate elevated and gives me a cardio workout as I train with weights, it also keeps me moving and gives me less time to sit and think I am bored, I might go home early.
After all it is only 4 hours a week to have all this muscle, a small price to pay in my opinion. If I do not go to the gym I will go for a walk instead, along the beach in the morning, I try to make my exercise pleasant that way I will continue to do it.
Q8)How do you motivate yourself to get/stay in shape?
I set goals, I make plans what I want and what I am going to get from my training and I think about that before I go to the gym, and often when I am at the gym too to keep me pushing hard when sometimes I feel lazy.
For me when I was young I wanted a good body, I wanted to be popular with the girls, I wanted to be able to defend myself. That was what motivated me when I started when I was 16 years old.
Now I am older I am more interested in keeping my health and my mobility, keeping my body functioning at top efficiency which makes me look and feel younger than I am, I train to fix little problems like hip flexibility before they become major problems later in life, pretty much keeping my youth and my looks are what keep me most motivated these days.
Now that I am breaking into the big league so to speak, and yes there is some vanity there as well – who doesn’t want to retain their physical youth as they get wiser?
Each individual has to find what it is for him. I know powerful wealthy business men nearing retirement, flush with cash and a heart condition that will soon stop their retirement if they do not lose weight, another guy who’s health was stopping him enjoying time with his children, other guys find themselves out of shape and back on the dating scene after a divorce.
Each person has to find whatever it is that will motivate them, but it has to be a good solid reason that gets them emotional.
Q9)What tips would you give to someone who wanted to look fit, just like you?
For one month eat natural food, stop eating processed food, drink only water, exercise, really exert yourself one hour a day 7 days a week.
After that month look at the difference in your body, have a few days off, then do one more month. Repeat.
After 3 months you will have made it through the most difficult period and formed the habit of exercising and eating well. Junk foods start to taste bad, sodas pop and juices start to taste too sweet – your taste preferences return to normal over time.
The entire ‘secret’ is just to stick with it, you do not have to do it perfectly, you just have to eat well regularly and exercise regularly and over time you will achieve your dream body, just don’t give up.
Q10)What message/advice you would like to give for our obesity campaign UK readers?
You can do anything in life that you set your mind to. If a beach bum from Australia can get onto the world stage just by having a go then you can do
anything you want – the hardest part is deciding exactly what you want from life and then starting it, everything else gets easier as you get better at it.
I’d like to leave with my favourite quote from Jim Rohn – “Don’t wish life were easier, wish that you were better.