Wymondham or Dusseldorf? Mark Strong on his Norfolk boarding school days
- Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
Star of stage and screen Mark Strong has opened up on his rather unique childhood, including the years he spent studying in Norfolk.
The Olivier Award-winning actor has enjoyed a long and varied career so far, and is recognisable for his roles in blockbuster films such as Sherlock Holmes, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Kingsman and 1917 – in addition to multiple appearances in the West End and on Broadway.
But before all that he was a pupil in Norfolk after heading north from London as an 11-year-old after his mother moved to Germany for work.
He was born in London as Marco Giuseppe Salussolia to an Austrian mother and an Italian father he never knew. His mum changed his name legally to make it more Anglicised, in a bid to help him fit in.
When asked to choose between Norfolk and Dusseldorf, he chose the former.
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Speaking on BBC Radio Four's Desert Island Discs programme, he said: "When my mum went back to Germany – because England was going through a difficult time she could earn more money there – she asked me whether I wanted to stay here or go there.
"It's difficult thing to be asked. I didn't know anybody in Germany, that was the thing. There was only my grandmother in Austria. I didn't feel there was anything there for me."
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He of course went on to be a star of the visual arts after studying English and drama at Royal Holloway, but before that he developed a love for punk music in his time at Wymondham College.
Mr Strong was a member of the bands Electric Hoax and Private Party while studying there, and recalled a particularly memorable show at Ashwellthorpe Village Hall.
He said: "That was a seminal concert. I think there were more of us on stage than there were in the audience. But we threw ourselves around and had a good time.
"I think one of us left our exercise book behind with lyrics to some of the songs, and I think there was a complaint from somebody who found the book to the school, about this terrible filth that was happening at Ashwellthorpe Village Hall.
"We were making a noise with some stupid lyrics. But somebody managed to get offended so we were really proud."
The full episode can be found online at www.bbc.co.uk/sounds.