As a professional footballer, Vinnie Jones was known as being something of a ball-buster (just ask Paul Gascoigne). That hardman persona has followed Jones into his film career – from his debut as debt collector Big Chris in 1998’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to his forthcoming role rubbing shoulders with Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Escape Plan (out in November).
Now presenting Vinnie Jones: Russia’s Toughest on the National Geographic Channel, Jones is in his element taking on the most demanding jobs in Mother Russia’s most hostile elements.
But there must be more to the man than a hardened exterior. Here, Vinnie Jones lets down his guard and shows you how to embrace your sensitive side.
Got a tough-guy image? Don’t feel you have to live up to it.
"I don’t live up to it. I live my own life. I normally get hit first. That’s where I get in trouble."
Don’t hold back the tears.
"When our producer left us at the airport [while filming Russia’s Toughest] – I probably cried that day. We had no spending money – he took it all with him."
Don’t be afraid of asking for help.
"We went across the tundra [in Kamchatka] – we took two tanks across. We lost tracks off the tanks on the way and there weren’t no RAC."
Think of the animals.
"I was in the Bering Sea swimming with the beluga whales, you know. It was these guys that rehabilitate some of these whales to save them when they’ve been injured or orphaned or something like that. So they have a big sort of pen in the sea and they get in with them and all that – that was very emotional, getting in with these whales."
Do get swept away in the romance of the moment.
"When me and Tanya [Vinnie’s wife] first met, we went to a mate of mine’s wedding – that was our first date. After dinner, they got in a helicopter and they flew to Heathrow and we watched it – there was 300 people there. And we was so engrossed in it all that when we turned around everyone else was gone, and we were the only ones stood there in this geezer’s garden. It was like: wow."
It’s OK to be scared. Go on, admit it.
"Some of the horror movies, when they get really graphic like slitting people’s throats - it gets a bit near the mark, you know what I mean. I can’t really saw I’ve seen Saw, it’s not really my cup of tea to watch them sort of things. A lot of ’em ain’t really got a story."
It’s OK to be scared. Go on, admit it. (Part 2)
"EastEnders and Coronation Street terrify me."
Wear your heart on your sleeve (and get a tattoo).
"I won the league with Leeds so I got a tattoo on my leg. And then I won the FA cup with Wimbledon, so I got that one. Any achievement – anything emotional. Good job I never played for Liverpool, I wouldn’t have had enough room."
Know your limits.
[On playing Sebastian Moran, an Arsenal supporter, in Elementary]: "That was the toughest acting I’ve ever done."
Vinnie Jones: Russia’s Toughest is on the National Geographic Channel from 12 September