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German born comedian and actor Flula Borg stars as Javelin in the latest installment of The Suicide Squad. In the movie, Borg portrays a former athlete who competed as an Olympic javelin thrower before turning to crime. It’s a character that first appeared in the Green Lantern comic books back in 1984, and is now part of James Gunn’s ensemble team that, according to the film’s poster, are the “worst heroes ever.”
Muscle & Fitness sat down for a lively chat with Borg, now 39, to find out how he landed this dream role, and the hilarious way he approaches health and fitness. We soon learned that despite Borg’s quick wit and fun approach to training, he finds exercise and nutrition to be an important part of this life.
People may not realize that you love to work on your health and fitness. Do you find that physical exercise also helps to promote positive mental health?
Exercise is everything for my mental health. If I stop exercising, or if I’m not eating healthily, then everything else doesn’t work for me. It’s a terrible metaphor, but if life is an automobile, and the car doesn’t work, well you’re not going anywhere. So, I find if I don’t exercise, everything hurts, everything starts to break down, my brain doesn’t work as well, so for me the steps are to eat good, sleep nice, workout!
How do you approach nutrition? Do you follow any particular rules?
I try not to eat too many carbohydrates if I’m not actively trying to build more muscle. I eat meat. My trainer, Paulo, has said that by eating meat, it is probably a little easier to gain muscle, but I would love to eventually eat less of it. I try to avoid sugar, soda, and things like that. Stuff that is junk food is stuff that I don’t eat.
How is your partnership with a personal trainer working out for you?
Paulo Mascitti is awesome. He’s an Italian man, so he doesn’t understand me and I don’t understand him — we are just screaming at each other all of the time. It’s wonderful.
Landing the part of Javelin in The Suicide Squad (in theaters Aug. 6), is such a big deal. When you saw that John Cena had been cast, as well as Idris Elba, you must have been expecting the next call, right?
Of course! It’s in that order, just as you said, it’s Cena, Elba, Flula, so it’s everyone who has two syllables and ends with an “A.” I was so happy when I got the call. I just so happened to be next to the phone, which was a coincidence.
Were you able to pass on any of your fitness tips, like screaming at personal trainers, to Cena or Elba?
Well, look, you’ve seen John Cena, this man needs zero tips from me. And Idris has more important things to do than listen to a confused, semi-insane German man when it comes to fitness, or anything else. So mainly, I just scream to myself as I pump the iron.
Appearing in a superhero movie is a dream for so many people, how did you find the process of getting the part, and then preparing for it?
It was very secretive. They didn’t tell us what the film was about, or who the characters were, but [later], when I found these things out, I immediately wanted to “hero,” or “villain-ify” myself, so I hired Paulo, my wonderful trainer, and I said, “Listen! You need to whip me into a man who looks like he can throw a javelin 5,000 meters and rob banks.” I love a good mission, you know Hollywood is insane and has no structure and it is chaotic, so if you give me a nice little goal, this is the “candy” that I need. Give me that for dessert!’
Needing to look like you can throw a javelin and rob a bank is definitely one of the more unique briefs to give a personal trainer!
Yeah! Just for Paulo, and just from me [laughs].
Tell us if this is wrong, but the blue and yellow costume that you wear as Javelin appears to have built-in abs?
Well, what was happening was that I was destroying the suit with my real abs, so they had to add padded abs onto the suit, so that the suit would not be destroyed by my abs. So, the padded abs were really for protecting the suit, and you can see those, but really, I was shredding the suit with my real abs, and those suits are expensive.
When actors are measured up for these types of costumes, do you feel a pressure to maintain the exact same shape?
I love this, I need structure, I need pressure, and I love fitness stuff, like I said, my mental health can only be helped by focusing on being healthier. The other thing is that I am not trying to become a crazy bodybuilding man who must gain thousands of [pounds], I’m just putting more muscle on my frame and for my body type, I feel like I am in the right place. The caveman in me is saying, “Great work, you cro-magnon descendant! Now let’s hunt for some buffalos!:”
Absolutely! Now that you feel like you are in the best shape of your life, will you try and maintain this going forward?
Yes, so I still train with Paulo and we only stopped because of the pandemic. About six weeks ago we began again, and I will train with him again today. You don’t need a trainer, but I have specific goals (for movie and television roles) so it’s good to have a guide, and someone who is an expert. I like to work hard, but I also need a coach.
What are some of the most important things that you have learned from Paulo?
What is great with Paulo is that he doesn’t do really weird exercises like ‘hop on one leg and stare at a man while throwing a ball.’ It’s basic. It’s deadlifts, pullups, squats, bench press, nothing crazy. I lift heavier weights to build more muscle, and work on good form.
If the opportunity to play Javelin presents itself again, would you be up for that?
[Suicide Squad] was probably the most fun that I have had on set, for sure, and I would love to play this character more. I love playing a** holes, I love playing villains, it’s fun to dive into this nice little world.
Last question! As a regular frequenter of gyms, what is your biggest pet hate?
I don’t like the screamers and the weight droppers. Look, we get it, you think you are very cool, and very strong and thanks for sharing, but also don’t share, I don’t care. I’m not in the gym for someone to tell me, passive-aggressively, that they just bench-pressed 45 pounds. “Good for you Thomas… suck it!”