Josh Holloway: Not Your Average Hollywood Baller
The former Lost star talks about ditching the scruff and getting shredded to star in Mission: Impossible.
This year, Lost creator J.J. Abrams (who directed Mission: Impossible III and is a producer on Ghost Protocol) offered him the lead role in his new CBS series, Person of Interest, but he turned it down. “It was [being] shot in New York and I’d just moved my whole family to California,” he explains. “I couldn’t pick them all up and move again.” After Lost ended, the Georgia-bred Holloway and his wife, Yessica, headed South for a down-home visit with family and friends to do what he enjoys most. “I was barbecuing and PBR-drinking,” he says. But after all that Southern comfort, Holloway says he “looked like a potato sack.” So he started working out—just in time too. “Bryan Burk [one of Abrams’ producing partners] called and said, ‘Are you available in two weeks? We need you in Prague [for Mission: Impossible].’ And I’m like, ‘Shit! Classic! Wow, alright!’ I was trying to be cool, but this was quite an o! er. My wife and I jumped around, laughing and dancing for an hour after that phone call.”
Prepping for the part of Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent Trevor Hanaway proved to be a lifestyle game changer for Holloway. “I trained my ass o! ,” the actor says. “That shook me up. I thought, ‘Enough of this letting go and getting it back. Maybe you can’t be completely performance-ready all the time, but you can’t let it go. You need to stay within striking distance.’” This epiphany came slowly. Growing up in Free Home, GA, with three brothers, Holloway stayed naturally fit running around the family’s 30 woodsy acres, building forts, and fishing. He took up soccer at 6, then switched to basketball in middle school, playing varsity at Cherokee High. Despite years of sports and lifting, he says he was always done in by genetics. “All my brothers were skinny with a gut. Bone-thin with a bit of a pooch. That’s what I fight against.”
Throughout his years as a model in New York and Milan andeven during his years on Lost when he was hailed as a sex symbol, he never felt he lived up to the image. “I love food, I love drink, I love that social thing,” he says. So how did he manage to look camera-ready for all his shirtless scenes in Lost? “They would give me five days’ notice, sometimes more if I had a feeling and called to ask. Writers and producers expect you to be in shape all the time, but as they became my friends, I’d say, ‘Dudes, give me a little warning.’ And they tried. Then I’d warrior up, do more weights, and stick to eating steak and fish.” While he pulled it off , Holloway now says, “I’m tired of that. No more of that desperation push. I’m going to stay fit. It feels better.”
To get in shape for Mission: Impossible, Holloway turned to John Kovach, a Southern California trainer who incorporates integrated movement patterns, unstable surfaces (like a Bosu balance trainer or Swiss ball), and Pilates into his programs. “Josh is an athlete, so he has always stayed in good fundamental shape,” Kovach says. “He just needed to ramp it up from being in average shape to phenomenal shape. He wanted to do as many of his own stunts as possible—he knew there was going to be a fair amount of wire work. I made sure he had good, practical core conditioning so that when he was doing suspension work he would hold himself in alignment without sagging.”