The German comedian Flula Borg never had to worry too much about being “ripped off”. After all, you don’t necessarily have to have a riotous six-pack to be ridiculously funny. But his naturally lean genetics worked in his favor. Fans may remember dancing in a see-through shirt for Pitch Perfect 2 or a largely censored nudist visit with Conan O’Brien in Berlin. That all changed when he got the role of DC villain Javelin in James Gunn’s upcoming The Suicide Squad.
“Since he’s a former Olympic athlete and carries that huge spear, I knew I would need professional help,” Borg tells the Men’s Journal. “My usual routine was exercising for 20 minutes, not eating, and staring at the TV for the rest of the day. Paolo told me that it wouldn’t fly this time. “
Borg is referring to Los Angeles trainer Paolo Mascitti, whose bespoke strength-building program got him 25 pounds of muscle and got him into true Olympic shape (try a sample workout from that program here). We spoke to the actor about his newly acquired skills with a bow stick, his passion for yogurt and making The Suicide Squad.
When did you first hear about the opportunity to play Javelin – a great but somewhat unknown character in the DC Universe?
I was first asked to audition two years ago for a project I didn’t know the title or the plot of the project. I just knew the character was going to be German so that was exciting for me because I could use my actual accent. When I found out what the project was all about, I ruined my pants several times. I then bought all the comics I could find that featured Javelin and read them all. I was excited to dive in and James Gunn wanted to make sure the characters really got through. He wanted it to feel like each of our characters was worthy of their own franchise.
Then, after you got a good feel for what he looked like, how did you decide to prepare physically?
I’m a pretty skinny guy by nature, that’s always been my genetics. So I knew I had to add a little bit of beef to the situation – or tofu if you’re a vegetarian. I chose a personal trainer and my friend David Guitoli was already training with Paolo. He said that with our two accents, Paolo as Italian and I as German, we would never get along, but it would be a great partnership. And it was.
How did you change your training?
The biggest change we made was big basic moves and Olympic lifting exercises, like the bench press and squats. Every man in my family has had back surgery, so I’ve always worried about developing problems with my back. That made me very cautious, but with Paolo, who trained me in my form, I became a lot more confident. I skipped cardio because it made me lose too much too quickly. I trained with him in the weight room four days a week. We did sessions that were 70 minutes long. I was most surprised at how far we could go with the bench press. We made three plates on each side which felt great. I usually don’t want to be the guy screaming at the gym, but I’ve made it loud inside, like you do when you see a scene from A Quiet Place.
How has your diet changed since you focused on gaining mass?
I had to eat a lot more food, like an Olympic meal. I ate about 7,000 calories a day, I needed each one because my metabolism is pretty impressive. That was fine because I love food. I love everything about food. One item that I particularly love is yogurt. If you told me to eat three cups of yogurt at once, I would be happy. That’s how I got through it. If I had to eat a piece of chicken or a bunch of broccoli, Paolo would give me a yogurt snack. I used to eat this zero percent fat yogurt, but Paolo was quick to let me know that was stupid, so I switched to 2 percent. The Fage brand is very good. Some might describe plain Greek yogurt as a bit boring, but I’m a huge fan.
Are you doing anything at the gym for entertainment? Listen to music?
I love training with Paolo because he’s my entertainment, I don’t have to watch or listen to anything. We are both very confusing to listen and understand, so time goes by very quickly if we are just trying to have a conversation. On my own, I like to try to memorize rap lyrics from groups like Outcast. I have to say “So Fresh, So Clean” is a particular favorite. Or sometimes “Run The Jewels”. Or sometimes I just feel like listening to cryptocurrency podcasts because it’s a chaotic world that fills me with energy.
Javelin has a unique weapon. Did you even practice or work with a spear before the set?
I actually started practicing with a bow stick. It looks a bit like a spear. I just played around with it, twisted it and threw it. I watched YouTube videos of people using the bow staff. The only problem was I didn’t have the suit so I couldn’t practice what it felt like to move the bow while wearing it. I can’t really talk much to people about the bow stick because I don’t know what the bow stick movements are called. I taught myself most of the time. I’m like a person who likes singers but doesn’t know the titles of their songs.
There are some pretty fit guys in the Suicide Squad 2 cast between John Cena, Idris Elba, and the rest. Have you ever talked about training?
They would meet at the gym, in which case we would just stare at each other very seriously. We didn’t really talk about training, it was more about snacks. What we will nibble next or what would be our dream snack at this moment. Everyone in the cast was funny, even the people you might not expect just because they don’t play a lot of weird roles. Sean Gunn plays a weasel, which was hilarious.
Finally, I have to ask how it felt to actually put the suit on?
They were initially very mysterious about the costume and what it would look like. They wanted to keep everything under lock and key, which meant they didn’t tell me much. When it was finished and I tried it on, I was impressed. I have to say the suit is important. I understand why people wear uniforms. Say you’re a postal worker – you want to wear this uniform for mail delivery, not a wetsuit. You want to wear what is meant for the job. When I put on the suit, which is more of a classic look, I felt like I was walking around with more hunched shoulders and standing taller. I immediately got an asshole because Javelin is one. He also has this amazing blonde hair which I enjoyed. I was lucky I didn’t have a crazy helmet like John Cena. I don’t know what it felt like to wear this, but there was definitely no privacy for him, everyone was looking at their teeth in his helmet. It’s huge. But after all this work, it felt right to put my suit on.
The Suicide Squad hits theaters August 6th and HBO Max.
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