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 Men's Health Interview

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PostSubject: Men's Health Interview   Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:42 am

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/living/men/philip-winchester-fitness-interview

MH interview: Philip Winchester
Strike Back star Philip Winchester reveals what it's like to train with SAS veterans

Should you find yourself firing an assault rifle in a dodgy part of Budapest, chances are you’re doing so during stag-weekend ‘team activities’. Not Philip Winchester. MH spoke to the 30-year old actor while he was in Hungary filming Strike Back, the big-budget SAS drama appearing on Sky1 HD this month.

Between firing AK-47s and lobbing grenades, filming the all-action show required learning how to adopt the lifestyle, mindset and training regime of one of the world’s elite military forces. To prepare for the role, Winchester was placed into the well-callused hands of SAS and SBS veterans

“We got into the guts of what these guys do,” says Winchester. “We know they work hard, but when you see it first-hand, it’s incredible.”
Next level training

Winchester swiftly learnt how to push himself past his limit. “It was mental and emotional training at the same time as the physical stuff,” he says. “They’d be slamming on you the whole time. They’d ask us to do 10 or 12 reps, and when we got there they’d say: ‘I think that was only six, mate. What are you doing? You’re only cheating yourself.’ So you end up doing these monster sets.”

Strike Back is based on the bestselling book of the same name, by former SAS soldier Chris Ryan, famous for its explosive portrayal of the special forces. The second series on Sky1 is a big-budget reboot of the first, co-produced by HBO – the network responsible for hit shows The Wire and Game of Thrones.

While filming in Cape Town, Winchester learnt how to sharpen his wits. “They would take us into the city and ask: ‘That car that just went up the side street: what colour was it? How many people were inside?’ We were taught what to look for in someone who’s a potential threat. They showed us how to walk through dangerous areas in pairs or groups; how to be observant and how to blend into a crowd.”

‘Blending in’ will soon become tougher for Winchester. Before taking the lead in Strike Back, he gave a stand-out performance in Camelot. An experience more swords and saddles than grenade launcher and Kevlar, but he says he’s always drawn to roles with a robust physical side.

This time, Winchester’s training seriously raised his game. “I asked the ex-SAS guys if they ever chilled out – what kind of zone they lived in: red, green or amber. They said: ‘We live our lives continuously on amber. We never get to green’.”

Photography: Sam Norval
Words: Dan Jones

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