Financial Muscles: Mark Griffin as a Trojan Gladiator
Mark Griffin, actor and Trojan on ITV’s Gladiators sports show of the 1990s, once earned a thousand pounds a minute for saying “Bears are great swimmers” in Eddie Murphy’s “Doctor Doolittle 2.”
The 54-year-old Griffin, who is now the author of the bestseller, says that despite the pandemic, last year was the best in his financial life.
When Silence Kills, the third book in his Holly Wakefield series about a female criminal psychologist who catches serial killers has just been published.
What did your parents teach you about money?
What if I wanted something, I would have to save up for it. I did not receive pocket money, but could earn by doing housework and gardening.
My dad worked at Royal Insurance as an international transportation expert. He was a smart man – he went to Cambridge University. He passed away before Christmas.
My mother was a foster mother when my sister and I were young, and she later worked as a chef.
We were a middle class family and my parents wanted us to have the best they could afford. I don’t remember ever missing something, but I do remember having little money.
My dad was the only earner and I think he was pretty frugal. He grew his own fruit and vegetables, and my mother made bread and made everything from scratch.
Have you ever had a hard time making ends meet?
Yes, after my divorce, which was tough and coincided with the collapse of the market in 2008. I lost my home in Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, my retirement and my art collection. I even had to sell my Ford F-150 truck, which I loved.
Everything was sold to pay off the mortgage while we tried to finish renovating the house and sell it in the real estate market, which collapsed while experiencing divorce. It was a nightmare. We lost $ 1 million on this house. It was a money pit.
Nine months later I decided to return to the UK. At the time, I was pretty depressed. I came home and literally everything I brought with me was a small suitcase, a pair of Prada shoes that I got married to, and a few scripts that I was working on.
Did you have any savings?
No, I had nothing. I had to start again. I stayed in London with a friend and continued to write screenplays. I failed to take an agent, although I starred in good films in America. Agents selected their clients because of financial collapse, and no one read the scripts.
To make ends meet, I started making antiques, selling 18th century English blue and white porcelain. I learned this from my dad, who was a collector. From time to time I was lucky and found something that was incorrectly marked.
I did this for about three years and kept going to auditions and writing. Eventually I got an agent and turned everything upside down.
Have you ever been paid stupid money?
Yes. I starred in a 1998 film called Dr. Doolittle 2 with Eddie Murphy. I had a small role as a truck driver. But the casting team challenged me to voice behind the scenes the narrator of a nature TV show that Eddie and the Bear watch during the film. I had to say something like “Bears are great swimmers” with a chic English accent.
We did two doubles – I left the studio five minutes later – and I was paid £ 5,000. Better yet, I still get paid for this scene.
What did you earn as a Trojan?
The exhibition cost £ 750. Everyone thought we were making millions, but we weren’t. In doing so, as a gladiator, you could make good money by performing in pantomimes at Christmas. Between £ 4,000 and £ 6,000 a week.
What year was the best in your financial life?
Last year. I don’t want to say how much I earned, but I made another deal for two books with my British and foreign publishers, and sold a few antiques.
I believe that writing is more profitable than acting. This year I have three novels on the go as well as a screenplay for the film.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Shortly after the movie came out, I bought four Disney series The Lion King for £ 10,000. Sericel is an animated art taken from a movie. Their value has been constantly depreciating over the past 26 years. They annoy me so much that I can’t even hang them on the wall. They are in the closet dusting on my eternal resentment. Then you could buy a house with a deposit of 10,000 pounds. I could probably buy a castle in France with that money and live there now.
Bear of Essentials: Mark Griffin was earning £ 1,000 a minute on voice acting in Eddie Murphy’s “Doctor Doolittle 2”
The best money decision you made?
Around 2000, I bought my first property in Los Angeles for £ 480,000. I spent £ 80,000 on her garden renovation and landscaping and sold her for £ 1.2 million in less than two years.
Do you retire or invest in stocks?
No. I invest a small amount – a few hundred pounds a month – in cryptocurrency. I have spread my money on many investments. Some are currencies and some are technologies: blockchains and incompatible tokens (NFT).
I did have a pension, but in case of divorce I had to cash it. I do not plan to stop work until the day of death.
Do you own any property?
I am renting a house in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey. I have not owned the property since selling this money pit in America.
What little luxury will you treat yourself to?
Honey. I buy genuine honey from local beekeepers wherever I go. I pay between £ 7 and £ 10 per jar and I spend around £ 100 a month on it. I have a couple of spoons in coffee and tea instead of sugar and I also put a little in the breakfast cereal. It’s just so good for you and I’m a treat.
If you were chancellor, what would you do?
I would have hired Malcolm Tucker from The Thick Of It, played by actor Peter Capaldi. I think it would be brilliant and would do a great job.
I would also go for big corporations that don’t pay taxes. You could fund as much money as they need. And the only reason they don’t pay it is the loopholes.
Do you donate money to charity?
Yes, I donate Refuge every month. It is a charity that aims to raise awareness about domestic violence and help women and children get to safety. I have donated to this for years.
I think misogyny should be a hate crime, and it is not done enough to protect women who have been abused. I don’t understand why. It disappoints me to hell.
What is your number one financial priority?
To buy another property and repair it. I would like to buy a house this or next year, probably in London.
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The television gladiator, authored by Mark Griffin, talks to Me and My MONEY
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