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 Strike Back Interviews

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PostSubject: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptySun Aug 05, 2012 3:53 am


There is a video interview of Philip. The link will not post here at this time. If it makes it to youtube, I'll upload it here.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyMon Aug 06, 2012 12:48 am


Another video that can't be posted on the forum lately
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyThu Aug 09, 2012 2:05 pm


Philip Winchester talks 'Strike Back' - on DVD today

By Soriyya

Philip Winchester is no stranger to the world of TV drama. You may recognize him from his role as the title character on Crusoe, as Frank Stanton on Fringe or as Leontes on the historical mini-series Camelot. His latest television project, Strike Back, is pushing this actor to a whole new level. When Section 20, an elite British military unit, discovers that an international terrorist group is plotting a massive attack using weapons of mass destruction, they enlist their best man, Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Winchester), to stop it. His only hope of succeeding, however, is to team up with ex-U.S. Delta Force operative Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), who was disgraced and discharged on the eve of America’s invasion of Iraq. Despite the clash in personalities -- Scott’s careless, playboy persona vs. Stonebridge’s straight-edge, professionalism -- the pair go head to head with some of the world’s most dangerous criminals.

We caught up with Winchester while he was in Toronto to find out more about Strike Back and how he prepared for such a physically demanding role. He also dishes on what other shows he’d like to work on, and they’re not quite what you’d expect.

Can you give us a little bit of background on your character, Sgt. Michael Stonebridge?
Sgt. Michael Stonebridge is a lifer. He’s a consummate professional. He throws everything into Section 20 and the people that he works for in Section 20. And to his flaw -- it actually ends up affecting his marriage and his personal relationships. I think that Michael would like to think he’s pretty straight-laced but I think his devotion to being a soldier and I think what happened to him in the field, that the [post-traumatic stress disorder] that he goes through and experiences on a regular basis, has more of an effect on his life than he’d like to admit.

The chemistry between you and Sullivan Stapleton’s character -- Sgt. Damien Scott -- is incredible on screen. Was that something you had to work on or did it just come naturally?
Sully and I, I think we do have a natural banter, natural competition, due to the training we went through. So, whether we were on the firing range or driving, or we were working out in the gym or doing urban combat, kind of the street fighting training -- whatever happened, we would always have a little bit of a competition going. And that stuff kind of translated, and we kept it for the characters. So it’s always going on, I think it’s just a natural thing -- we’re lucky it’s a natural thing.

What kind of training did you have to go through for this role?
The training we had to do for the show was a month at the beginning of each season. Every morning we’re up at six o’clock, did a 5K run, followed by a couple hours in the gym where we’re doing physical training, weight training, that kind of stuff, which is great. Then, we would be out at the shooting range doing live firearm training with pistols, with Glock [pistols], with HK-58s, AK-47s, M4s, that kind of stuff. Then we would do driving training in the afternoons, which is evasive maneuver driving -- basically you have to spin a car around in circles. And then we would do unarmed combat -- we started with “Muay Thai” and mixed in some more kind of “Krav Maga,” “Systema” kind of stuff, which is combative fighting. So it’s all very close quarters doing elbows and headbutts and knees, and just defending anything at all costs.

Did you have to go through any military training?
Yeah, all that training that I was talking about was done by ex-[Special Air Service] and Delta Force guys, so not only were we doing the physical stuff and the stuff in the range but we were being spoken to like we were soldiers, by soldiers. They just said, “Look, if you’re going to train like a soldier, we’re gonna treat you like soldiers.” So, we kind of had a very condensed version of that kind of training.

In the first season alone, the plot goes to so many different locations, like India and South Africa. Did you have a favorite location?
Shooting in Cape Town is just fantastic because it does offer so many different locations in one place. So, you can imagine, it’s got Table Mountain, it’s got the ocean and it’s got the downtown, which has these kind of Victorian buildings. You can double Cape Town for a lot of places and they let you get away with a lot. We were doing all our own stunts. We were driving around the main streets in Cape Town without a lock-off, and stuff blowing up, and shooting guns out the window, and you’re flying around in helicopters -- I don’t think you’d be allowed to do that anywhere else in the world.

What is about the show that appeals to such a wide audience?
I think any time you peel away the curtain and have a look behind what goes on in these kind of elite squads and these elite teams, it’s interesting for people. And what we wanted to do was not only peel back the curtain but also make these people real. So our goal in kind of showing how elite forces operate and look like, was to not make them super heroes but to make them real blokes and real women who could literally die at any moment. So I think that element, as you see in the first season, and as you get into the second season you’ll see it too, that even if you work in Section 20 it doesn’t mean you’re safe. You can get taken out.

You’ve made quite a few appearances on television for the past few years with Crusoe, Fringe and Camelot. Are there any other shows that you would like to make an appearance on someday?
I’m a huge Breaking Bad fan. I would do anything -- I would play the crack addict on the side. It’s just such a good show. It’s so well-written. And in comedy, my wife and I just started watching Modern Family, which is just hilarious. And the way they rounded all those characters and made them all so different, it’s just brilliant. So, those are the two shows I think I’d like to make an appearance on.

You’ve also done movies in the past. Is that something you’d be interested in venturing more into in the future?
Yeah, I definitely would. I think that television is so quick and it’s so brutal that it’s kind of strangely addictive because it happens at such a pace. If a film came up and if it was something that was maybe a little slower and something with maybe a little more words and a bit more substance, I’d definitely give it a shot.

The first season of Strike Back releases today on DVD and Blu-ray. You can also catch the Season 2 premiere on HBO Canada on August 17. ~Soriyya Bawa
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyMon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 pm


Actor Philip Winchester discusses the intensity of shooting ‘Strike Back’ series

Philip Winchester shares details on starring in the second season of the Cinemax action drama “Strike Back.”

BY MELISSA HAYER | Published: August 13, 2012

In the action drama “Strike Back,” which centers on British top-secret counterterrorism intelligence unit Section 20, the most important characteristic of its members is the ability to think fast in potentially deadly situations and to come up with alternative solutions to get out of them.

photo - Philip Winchester stars as Sgt. Michael Stonebridge in “Strike Back.” CINEMAX PHOTO
Philip Winchester stars as Sgt. Michael Stonebridge in “Strike Back.” CINEMAX PHOTO

This is also a quality that comes in handy during the production of the show, according to star Philip Winchester, who plays Sgt. Michael Stonebridge in the Cinemax series.

The second season of “Strike Back,” filmed in South Africa, premieres with back-to-back episodes at 9 p.m. Friday. It also stars Sullivan Stapleton, Rashan Stone and Michelle Lukes, and features new cast member Rhona Mitra.

A Montana native, Winchester, 31, whose uncle is retiring Garfield County Sheriff Bill Winchester of Enid, spoke to The Oklahoman during a recent phone interview to discuss working on the show’s second season, including how the shooting location of the first two episodes had to be changed at the last minute.

“We lost this main location right off the bat,” Winchester said. “We were supposed to film the first two episodes in Mozambique ... and there was a massive freedom fighter rally about a week before we were supposed to get there.

“And production sat down with all the people who deal with traveling safely and things like that, and they just said there’s no way that we could take a production team and a bunch of guys with fake AK-47s where there’s a 100,000 guys with real AK-47s and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and stuff, walking around the streets of Mozambique commemorating battles that they’ve had.”

But, of course, in the world of entertainment, the show must go on.

“They pulled the plug on Mozambique. ... Some of us, we chartered a plane and went there for a couple of days and did some interior stuff, and then did some rooftop shots, but we never got to hold a weapon in Mozambique. And then the way to fix it was they made it all night. So they changed the script to night time, and we shot it back in Cape Town.

“So, that first block was just brutal, because we went from a month in Mozambique, which was going to be absolutely beautiful, to a month of night shoots in Cape Town in some of the roughest neighborhoods and townships.”

While doing virtually all of your own stunts is exciting, it comes with a price. Winchester recounted a story about an up-close-and-personal experience with a grenade when he and Stapleton were filming a chase scene on a rooftop.

“When that grenade went off, Sully and I are supposed to peek in the door and then pull out, then the special effects guy was to push the trigger and the bomb went off. Well, he did everything absolutely right, the timing was absolutely on,” Winchester said.

“But what happened was because we’re on the rooftop of this building, there was this kind of wind vortex, and there was this wall of wind kind of swirling around us and the fire ball came out and hit that wind wall and it came right back against Sully and I and smashed us against the wall, and I burned the whole right side of my body and Sully burned the whole left side of his body.

“We looked at each other after the take, our hair was smoldering and our clothes were on fire ... and I just looked at the special effects guy, and I went, ‘Hey, bud, that was a little close, you know?’”

The role of Stonebridge is so intense that after Winchester had been home for about a month after filming the first season, his wife, Megan, told him it was nice to have her husband back, having felt like she had been living with “Stonebridge” for seven months.

Winchester is well aware playing such a strong role is much different from carrying out the job in real life.

“I know it’s all fake and I know it’s all ... we’re playing soldiers, so for the life of me, I don’t know how these guys do it for real, and how they walk away from that with any integrity at all, but they do. We see it all the time,” Winchester said.

“And it just goes to show the training that they do, and the type of men and women that are working in our armed services. They’re incredible people, and my heart goes out to them. I take my hat off to them every day, ’cause what we’re doing is just pretend, and these guys do it for real. It’s incredible.”
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyThu Aug 23, 2012 10:30 pm


How 'Strike Back' blew up Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton

In this exclusive video, Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester talk about Ep. 13 of Cinemax's "Strike Back."

By Curt Wagner @ShowPatrol RedEye

7:38 p.m. CDT, August 23, 2012

Thanks to extensive military training and their own fitness, "Strike Back" stars Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton can handle pretty much any stunt that's thrown at them while filming the action series in Cape Town, South Africa.

Real Special Forces soldiers have trained the actors in explosives, evasive driving, live-fire weapons and close-quarter fighting. The advisers also schooled them in everything from the proper way to hold weapons to how soldiers clear rooms or advance in a firefight.

But while filming a chase scene for the new season's third episode, airing at 9 p.m. Aug. 24, the actors got a big shock—and a few singed body parts. (Click here for Ep. 13 photos and videos.)

In the episode, their soldier characters search for a man they believe is transporting stolen nuclear triggers that, if they fall into the wrong hands, could be used by terrorists to set off nuclear bombs. In one scene, the courier tosses a grenade in a stairwell leading to a hotel rooftop where Winchester's Sgt. Michael Stonebridge and Sullivan's Damian Scott are standing.

To create the grenade explosion, the show's demolitions team used a "bomb pot," Winchester told me during a recent phone conversation. The pot contained a six-liter tub of diesel fuel and a charge, talcum powder, cork and "all sort of stuff so when it explodes it looks like it's eating up the door frame," he said.

Everything went as planned for the scene, except when the "grenade" exploded, a wind gust blew flames, smoke and debris right at the actors.

"I lost all the hair on my right side of my arm—I mean, we were shocked," Winchester said, chuckling. "Both our heads were steaming and the stunt guys and the firemen and the medic came running in and doused us. Parts of our clothes were on fire! The demolitions guys, their eyes were as big as saucers."

The actors weren't hurt seriously, but both have suffered bumps, bruises, strains, cuts and, as Stapleton says in the video above, cork in the butt. But despite their ability to bounce back from the wounds—and despite the month of military training they receive before each season begins filming—Winchester isn't kidding himself that he, Stapleton or any of their cast mates would fair too well in a real battle zone.

"We're getting better at making it look good, but there's certainly a big difference between making it look good and doing it for real," he said. "When you talk to our military guys or you sit down with the real deals, you just go, 'I'm an actor; you're an actual SAS [British Special Air Service] guy.'

"I'll speak for myself; I don't think we would [make it in a real battle]. It's a mind set; it's training. It's years and years and years of professionalism and soldiering and being in the real thing."

Here's an exclusive clip from Ep. 13 of "Strike Back:"

Want more? Discuss this article and others on Show Patrol's Facebook page.

Copyright © 2012, RedEye
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Sep 05, 2012 6:08 pm


A man's man

Strike Back's Philip Winchester is the real deal
by May Seah
04:45 AM Sep 04, 2012

Singapore - Strike Back is an unabashedly masculine show. Its star, Philip Winchester, is a real man's man. And we're guessing that, on the set, you could probably slice the testosterone with a knife. In the Cinemax original series, Winchester and co-star Sullivan Stapleton play members of a top-secret anti-terrorist organisation. The show is shot on location in South Africa, where a lot of stuff gets blown up and the two guys make walking away from explosions look extra cool.

In the new season two, Rhona Mitra (Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans) joins the cast for more military hi-jinks. But believe it or not, the hardest part of Winchester's demanding physical training regimen is eating.

"I had to put on 15 pounds (6.8kg) of muscle for the show," explained the 31-year-old beefcake. "More than the working out and the running and the things like that, it's just the eating. It's hard to eat that much food all the time. My wife helps me out - she packs me a lunch every day and cooks me a big eight-egg omelette in the morning, and then I have to eat about 5,000 calories a day when I do the show. So we joke around in our house - we call it feeding, because it's such a ridiculous amount of food."

Has his wife been eating more too? "No, she purposely makes it a point not to try and keep up with me," he chuckled. "But it's very hard."

Winchester puts those hard-earned pipes to practical use since both he and Stapleton "do about 95 per cent" of their own stunts. "We really enjoy that and we think the audience wants to see that, now that they've seen us get so close to the explosions and drive the cars and do the stunts ourselves," he said. "This year, there're some really big effects. You've just gotta think at the back of your head: 'You know what, I trust those special effects guys, and look, if something does go wrong, we've got an amazing medical crew with us all the time!'"

And speaking of hardcore action scenes, Winchester said that he was really proud of the fact that the show didn't use much CGI effects for those sequences. "I think our show is doing something that hasn't been seen for quite a while," he said. "People got so used to seeing CGI and watching stuff that had the fake backgrounds and the computer generated action scenes. And one of the things I'm really proud about, and one of the things that I really want to protect, going forward, is that we do everything for real."

The self-professed Bruce Willis fan addded: "We grew up with that kind of action stuff, where there were real men doing real action stuff, instead of these wet, pseudo characters who just can't really decide what they are. I think this is a show that protects the masculine side of things, and it also allows for really strong women to come in and be just as strong as the men. So it caters to both sides of the coin.

"And it's a hell of a lot of fun."

Catch the second season of Strike Back starting Sept 7 at 10pm on Cinemax.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Sep 05, 2012 6:10 pm


Philip Winchester explores dark side of 'Strike Back' character

"Strike Back" airs at 9 p.m. Fridays on Cinemax.
By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol RedEye

3:22 p.m. CDT, September 3, 2012
Philip Winchester's character, Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, has been wrestling some heavy demons in the new season of "Strike Back."

In the season premiere, he was forced to kill one of his Special Air Service trainees. The trainee's brother, former special forces soldier Craig Hanson, got his twisted vengeance by killing Stonebridge's wife. The murder pushed Stonebridge, as his Section 20 partner Sgt. Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) said in the Aug. 31 episode, down a rabbit hole.

The usually level-headed Stonebridge seemingly has switched places with his more unpredictable, fiery brother-in-arms Scott. He lost his cool and beat the crap out of Othmani, the courier hiding nuclear triggers. He pummeled a Tuareg man in a supposedly friendly wrestling match. And when he came face-to-face with Othmani's terrorist brother, El Soldat (shown in the scene above), he insisted that Scott take a shot and kill the terrorist, even though one of El Soldat's snipers was targeting Stonebridge.

Stonebridge doesn't have a death wish, Winchester said, but he's definitely become more reckless as a result of his personal demons. It's a change in character that Winchester enjoyed exploring this season.

"It was really fun to go through those scenes and at the end of scenes sometimes Sully and I would look at each and we'd have a little laugh and go, 'Well, that was different. That wasn't last year, was it?'" Winchester told me during a recent phone call from Montana, where he and his wife were busy preparing to move into their new home. "When stuff like that happens it's fun because, like real life, you surprise yourself and sometimes you go places you didn't think you could go or you wouldn't allow yourself to go. We tried to bring that kind of stuff into these characters this year."

"That kind of stuff" happens in the scene after Stonebridge walks away from El Soldat, when Scott challenges Stonebridge about his state of mind. They once again trade humorous barbs, but this time Scott shows genuine concern for his friend.

This kind of banter is one of the show's strengths, and it's the result of the actors' improvisation that often comes from their own relationship, Winchester said.

“Sometimes we have to play around with the words in scenes, and our natural banter—him taking the piss [out of me] and me just copping it on the chin until I blow up—that happens naturally,” he said, laughing. “So we don’t have to go searching for it.”

Winchester and I talked more about how he and Stapleton work together and how that informs what happened in Ep. 14 between Stonebridge and Scott, and in the series generally. We also reviewed Stonebridge’s state of mind this season, and talked about Winchester's transition to taking time off in Montana.

"Strike Back" airs new episodes each Friday at 9 p.m. CT on Cinemax. You can watch the two-hour season premiere on YouTube and the season so far on MaxGo.

How’s the house?
It’s just great. I’m still in the rental property right now but this morning it was kind of funny. We’re sleeping in; we’re on holiday … before the big press tours for the show kicks off again. I think to be able to sit in Montana and just watching the mountains and just hang out with like-minded people. It’s very cool. It’s such a cool community. So we’re really excited and [my wife] did an amazing job with the house, so I was thrilled.

Is it nice to just be home in Montana?
Totally. There’s that sense of peace when you’re in a familiar place. The first couple days we were walking around downtown and she was saying, “Baby, you don’t have to check every time someone walks behind us. Like we’re not in Johannesburg anymore. You can drop your radar a little bit.” … We were so used to having to have out wits about us so much in Johannesburg everywhere we filmed the show.

When we were in the car at San Diego Comic Con, a motorcycle drove past us and I asked if after filming a season of the show and you're back home and a car comes up close do you have residual “worry,” I guess, from having to watch all around you while in character.
This year has been a lot better. My wife actually called me on it last year … About a month-and-a-half after getting back last year, she looked at me and said, “Well, it’s nice to have you back, Philip.”

So it took me awhile to get out of that place. I think a lot of the reason behind that was, for me, I didn’t know who Stonebridge was [last year]. I had to find him, I had to work with Sully to figure out who these characters were, what their relationship was, how they dealt with things, how they didn’t deal with things. So last year was this period where you’re fully immersing yourself in the character and you’re exploring the whole time, and you’re making mistakes and then you’re correcting them.

The second year—this year—when we went back I knew who Stonebridge was. I knew where he was at and I was able to step back into him right away without kind of having to take those big unknown risks and dive in. He went different places this year and that was more challenging, but I already had a base to balance from. It wasn’t “easier,” but the character was already there. So I didn’t have to find that place and go to that dark place.

So this year after finishing the show the transition’s been a lot smoother, and I think the blessing of having a house to come back to and all that cool stuff has made it [easier]. I like to have something to do. I like to work. I have a project; I’m out staining deck chairs or telling our builders where to do certain things in the house. I’m able to kind of just forget about the show and throw myself into something else.

Stars; they’re just like us.
Stars. [Laughs.] I don’t—that just sounds funny, man.

You're too modest. ... You talked about the good grasp you guys got on your characters last year. Now this year they have a bit of a role reversal. Scott seems to be the more stable one. How was that curveball for you guys?
[Laughs.] Like I said, I think it was easier to go there after actually having our foundation we were ready to go kind of wherever. But what was funny was you read the scripts and I have an idea of what Sully’s probably going to do and he probably has an idea of what I’m going to do. Yet when we come in on the day and it happens it is always a surprise because we don’t have a ton of time to prepare.

There’s a lot of improvisation going on in our scenes because of just the relationship we have. We’re lucky enough that the producers and the directors know that and they let us do that. So a lot of that role reversal came out of improvisation in a scene where when we kind of thought about Sully’s character last year where he dealt with stuff and this year his admittance to being in a similar place in his past. So I kind of used that as fuel for where I wanted Stonebridge to go and how far I wanted him to go down that dark path before Scott ultimately kind of saves him [in Ep. 4] and says, “Look, man, you can’t do this or you’ll end up like me.”

… Stonebridge is that consummate professional. His life is soldiering; his life is being the go-to guy. So once he started to slip away and once Scott called him on it, I think realizing that he was losing everything that he’d worked for was the thing that brought him back from the brink. And of course, you know, having a buddy to talk to about it.

We were really concerned this year that we didn’t kind of just overshoot the stuff between the two characters. We didn’t want to not have these characters sit down and have a discussion about how hard it was doing what they do and how Stonebridge had been caught out and he was going some place he never had to go before. If he wanted to remain a soldier and a professional, he had to sit down and work it out. …

There’s a scene in Ep. 3 where Scott says, “If you ever want to talk about it I’m here, or we can just go out and get fucked up.” There’s a more serious one in Ep. 4. It’s a cliché word but that bromance between the two of you is always so fun because it never gets too sweet or “aw shucks”-y. Corny, I guess.
[Laughs.] There’s always that element of edge to it, isn’t there? And I think that you touched on it earlier. It’s just lucky that it happens to be Sully that I’m working with because I think that comes out of our natural respect and banter with each other as Philip and Sully, and that translates into Scott and Stonebridge, you know? So it’s nice that we don’t have to really look for that. It kind of just happens.

Stonebridge has a tough time after his wife’s murder. At the beginning of Ep. 3 he says, “I just want to do what I do best: soldiering.” What is his state of mind at the time and he secretly wants to find Craig Hanson, right?
Yeah, absolutely. It doesn’t look like Stonebridge is grieving. It looks like he’s just coping. He’s dealing with stuff, isn’t he? He’s doing it how we would expect Stonebridge to do it; he’s being professional and he’s being still. He’s reassuring the psychiatrist and I think that obviously his motivation is, “If I can just find Hanson and encourage myself with this and then maybe I can deal with it, but my first thing is to be a guy about it and I’ve got to find Hanson and I’ve got to take him out.”

That’s how I kind of approach that bit. In that psych ward scene I don’t think he’d grieved in the real sense of the word. He hadn’t sat down with family members and friends and walked through what happened. But in his own mind, he said, “All right, I’m going to put that over here, I’m going to compartmentalize it and then I’m going to deal with what happened; I’m going to deal with who caused it and then I can move on.”

Obviously, that takes us through the rest of the show is him compartmentalizing, it kind of rearing it’s head, the pain, the guilt, all that stuff, and then the realization that when it does confront Hanson, what’s he going to do about it.

Stonebridge has survivor guilt, guilt over killing the brother, a little bit of PTSD. Do you think that Stonebridge, who keeps things so locked in, is more messed up because of that than say Scott, who sort of physically gets rid of his demons through sex?
I absolutely agree with that. And that was one of the things we decided to do this year: Stonebridge would act out violently. He was acting out more violently; he wasn’t acting out sexually like Scott does.

We were sitting down discussing fight scenes and I was like, “I’m going to use this fight as a vessel to get rid of some of that anger and some of that anxiety and that guilt.” So in Episode 3, for example, when they get a hold of [Othmani] on the bus, there’s that fight and he’s just smashing the guy. I don’t think he cares if he kills him. He’s just getting rid of it, you know what I mean?

So I do absolutely think that Stonebridge uses violence and the anger that he suppresses all the time, and again, I think that’s another reason why his relationship with Scott gets strained because he looks at Scott at goes, “Son of a bitch. How come your attitude and the way that you live your life—you obviously planned this out because it aids in how you deal with things. I haven’t been able to do that and it’s fucking me up.” So it creates more tension between these two guys and ultimately creates opportunities for Scott to sit down and say, “Look, bud. You got to sort this shit out or you’re going to not only end up like me but you’re going to disappear.”

OK, so going back to the first episode that sets up Stonebridge’s season-long arc with Craig Hanson. Did Stonebridge actually have to shoot Jake Hanson in the head or could he have just shot him in the arm or the leg?
[Chuckles.] We really went over this on set and I went over it with the military guys and their training is such that you take out a threat. These guys are not police officers; they’re not trained to calm the situation and keep both sides alive. Their training is to remove threats; walk in, grab the hostage, remove threat.

We talked about it in this situation was Jake has his finger on the trigger, he has another trainee in his sights—it doesn’t take that much to pull that trigger and blow this guy’s brains out. So the only way to deal with the situation properly and because of the years of training are you take him out. They’re wearing webbing, they’ve got body armor on, and so it was the head shot.

And obviously, story point, we had to go there in order to kind of create this tension and create this story arc for the next 10 episodes, but there was a lot of discussion on set. Can we shoot him in the leg and then walk up to him and then he has to shoot him? We made it two shots and then it just became too convoluted and too sinister. If it was just one clean kill he gets rid of the threat, he saves the other guy’s life in the process. It was a conflict in discussing that and I’m not really sure how the audience is going to take that, but obviously it puts Stonebridge in a very uncomfortable situation…

And it just continues to snowball through the rest of the season.

So with Stonebridge and Scott having a role reversal, does that mean that we’ll see more Stonebridge sex scenes later this season?
[Laughs.] In a short answer—no. [Laughs.] We joke about it now because he’s got like one or two every episode. But no it didn’t happen. The producers brought it up to me at the end of the year again saying we like that that there’s a different way that you guys deal with your stress, there’s a different way you guys deal with your PTSD.

Scott has to go out and look for it in women whereas Stonebridge internalizes it a lot more. … Let me just say, I’m happy that I don’t have to do the sex scenes and who knows if we go another year what the verdict’s going to be on that one. [Laughs.] I’m quite happy that we leave Philip out of that. [Laughs.]

Just to get it on record definitively: Are you sure you’re not jealous?
[Laughs.] Not at all.

Odd question, but I’m asking anyway: Do you have a favorite curse word or phrase?
[Laughs.] I think my personal favorite one is “bollocks.” I think bollocks is a great swear word. It can be great, like “That was the bollocks,” or it can be terrible: “That was bollocks,” you know? I just think it’s a very versatile British swear word; I think it’s wonderful.

"Strike Back" takes real world situations and uses them in its stories. Mogadishu, child soldiers, dirty bombs in bodies are examples. Has doing the show made you more aware of what’s going on in the world?
I’m much more up on my current events. I’m reading the paper or checking the news and also just more aware of my surroundings—especially when I’m out in public. I’m not paranoid, but I’m certainly a lot more just, like I said, just aware of what’s going on when I walk into a restaurant—where I sit, where the exits are—things like that.

It was so hammered in to us in our training that by putting yourselves in certain places you have a better outcome of surviving if something happens. So, I think maybe just a little more aware of that.

Whether or not you use that in your real life or you just forget about it and go into your next role is up to you, but I think it’s coming in handy and I think it’s something that’s always fascinated me and it’s something that I have a huge respect for. And now that I’ve been able to kind of dip my toe into it a little bit it’s something that I’d like to keep close to me for as long as I can, you know?

And just the respect for those guys—soldiers across the board, whether it’s special operatives or just soldiers working on the weekend—I just have a huge respect for them and what they do and what they put themselves up against. So it’s definitely changed my psyche on that.

Were surprised by the reception the show received for Season 1?
Yeah, I was absolutely surprised, and so was Sully. Last fall we were walking down the street in New York, and I think the show had just aired and they had the big posters up. … Sully noticed a couple of guys kind of stop and do a double take. Then they walked over to us and they’re like, “Oh, my God. You are the guys from ‘Strike Back.’” We both just assumed they worked over at HBO because we were kind of in that neighborhood. So I think we asked them, “Yeah, do you guys work at HBO?” And they’re like, “No, no. We’re just fans of the show.” I think you just go, “Oh, that’s neat. There are two people who watch the show and we happened to run into them.”

Then it kept happening. It happened in Vegas, it happened back in New York again. It happened when I was out with my wife or just out with buddies. It slowly started to dawn on me that there were actually people watching the show, enjoying the show. It was a huge surprise because I’ve been acting professionally for about 11 or 12 years. I’m one of the fortunate ones; I’ve made a living as an actor that whole time. There have been slow times; I’ve been on network television and I’ve had the lead in stuff, and it just didn’t land for whatever reason. So I think I probably brought that to this job, not the expectation that it wouldn’t work, but the attitude that I was going to throw myself into the work, forget about the end result, and just do what I thought was right. That’s exactly what happened last year. We disappeared for six months down in South Africa and then up in Budapest.

We were having a good time, we got a good grasp of the characters, but we didn’t really know what the reply was going to be from the public until we got to New York and started to hear [it]. There was a little ground swell and we started going, “Hang on a second. People are talking about the show. People dig the show.” I think the big help was Cinemax and HBO really put their money where their mouths were and they stuck billboards up in New York and Los Angeles. They put us on the front of buses and phone booths. They really did the groundwork as well, so all that stuff helped.

Heck yeah, I was surprised. … It really caught me off guard when people started saying, “Dude, you guys have a great show.”
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Sep 05, 2012 6:21 pm


'Army people tell us how realistic Strike Back is'

Sep 3, 2012

'Army people tell us how realistic Strike Back is'
Stand by for an injection of macho, high-octane adventure as Sky1’s action-packed espionage drama Strike Back returns on Sundays for a third series of edge-of-the-seat missions.

Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton are back in the saddle as brothers in arms Stonebridge and Scott, alongside Rhona Mitra, who joins as new Section 20 head Captain Rachel Dalton, and Charles Dance, who plays a billionaire baddie.

We caught up with 31-year-old Winchester on set in South Africa for a debrief...

There’s less sex and more gunplay this year... Last year we were figuring out who these characters were, but now there's more time to fire ammunition. We spent a month before the shoot getting familiar with 9mm Glocks and AK-47s and doing sniper training. I grew up in Montana, and I’m used to handling guns.

People from the armed forces write in to tell us how realistic the show is... That was the biggest and best surprise from last series, and we want to maintain that. There is artistic license of course, but the realism is a challenge for us and we all collaborate to get it right.

I eat 5,000 calories a day when I'm filming... We have to look like we could be in the Special Forces, but I'm naturally quite skinny, so I have to eat as much as I can, and make sure I have a protein shake every hour or two.

We set up a gym at base camp... I work out every day before shooting and sometimes during my lunch break. We try to use the weights whenever we get a bit of spare time.

There is competition between the guys and girls on set... Michelle Lukes, who plays Sgt Julia Richmond, hit the target first time in sniper training. We couldn't believe it, as nobody had managed to do that all day. Then she just kept on hitting it time after time – she was brilliant.

There are some things that women are better at than men, and vice versa... In the Special Forces, they use the different sexes for very specific tasks.

My wife Megan and I have spent half our married life in South Africa, so it feels like home... We're here for eight months at a time, and that always includes the summer. There is talk, if Strike Back carries on, that they might do some episodes in a snowbound setting. They're also talking about doing some city shoots, and I would love the show to go to London, where I went to drama school.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Sep 05, 2012 6:22 pm


'Strike Back' debrief: How to attack a militia

By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol RedEye

4:44 p.m. CDT, September 3, 2012
In the most recent episode of Cinemax's military adventure series "Strike Back," Section 20 soldiers Stonebridge and Scott advance on a militia that outnumbers them. And against the odds, they manage to send the militia scrambling.

That's not an unusual scenario for the special operatives soldiers upon which Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton base their characters, the actors have told me.

We've talked about the extensive training they receive from the show's military advisers, but it goes far beyond how to handle weapons. They're drilled heavily on military tactics as well, sometimes in live-fire situations.

"The first time that we did that in our training ... we put on bulletproof vests and our military adviser looked at us and said, 'You got live rounds, don't shoot each other. Make it look good,'" Winchester said, laughing. "So Sully and I were like, 'OK. Well there you go. Don't shoot me in the head, I guess, but anywhere in the torso is fine.'

"We just applied that to the show; we applied that to how Scott and Stonebridge move."

Those tactics (including something called pepper-potting he talks about below) became almost second nature to the actors, so much so that when director Paul Wilmshurst was setting up the Ep. 4 battle scene, he asked them what Scott and Stonebridge would do. The actors basically choreographed the battle themselves.

"It was one of my favorite bits in the whole season actually, because we were into the season enough to have a grasp of what we were doing again," Winchester said. "And it was the first time that a director let us kind of run free and do what we do."

Winchester talks more about how the battle was choreographed and filmed below, but before that check out the behind-the-scenes clip from Cinemax showing "How to Flip a Flaming Truck."

"Strike Back" airs new episodes each Friday at 9 p.m. CT on Cinemax.

Let's talk about battle choreography a bit. In the fourth episode this season, there's a battle with El Soldat's militia where Scott and Stonebridge push forward toward the militia, then retreat. Does production plan battles like that or do they say, "OK, well, you trained for this for a month, now do what you know?"
[Laughs.] Yes. In a nutshell, that's exactly what happens. We've done all this training and we have tactically in our heads an idea of how we move as our characters and also how we move as a two-man team, which is what it comes down to in the field. Unless we're out with Richmond or Baxter or other Section 20 operatives, Sully and I know how we move in the field.

That's the thing with the training that we did; we did live-fire tactical advances. We did live-fire tactical retreats. We did live-fire kill rooms. So Sully and I were stacking up on each other like you see in the show, but with real rounds in our guns and firing at targets together and trusting each other and changing mags and trusting each other--dropping and giving cover fire while the other one retreats. All this was happening for real.

So when we do it on set, the directors literally came up and said, "All right guys, here's the scenario. You're going to hit from your left flank or from 9 o'clock, how would you deal with that?" And Sully and I walk it through with our military advisor just to double check things and then we shoot it, and it's just as simple as that.

With that one in Episode 4 (or 14, depending on how you're counting), we got there and Paul Wilmshurst, our director, had said, "Would you guys take cover, would you guys do this?"

The thing about these guys being different [from regular soldiers], about them being special operatives, is they push forward. They take the attack to the attackers. So we said, "No, let's take the fight to them." So we created this whole scenario where we're getting hit from 9 o'clock and we turn to them; we tactically advance.

I don't know if you noticed but I drop down to a knee and I cover Sully as he moves forward, and he covers me as I move forward. And it's all about pepper-potting, they call it, and tactically moving forward. So you're covering your buddy.

You very well might get shot, but what happens is one of you is either in cover or one of you is laying down cover fire while the other one is moving forward or backward ...

The aggression that these guys--there is no off-switch unless every one of those guys attacking is down. Unless they're in a safe place they will not stop. That's the mindset of these guys; there is no "I'm done." There is no giving up; you go, you go, you go, you go, you go. We wanted that to be very much in the show.

At the beginning of Ep. 4, we push in on El Soldat's men. They're pushing forward, we're pushing forward; we're tactically advancing. There are grenades. ... So we had a ball. We choreographed it in like half an hour or 45 minutes and then we spent the rest of the day running around, sliding in the dirt, shooting guns, which was great. [Laughs.]

When you guys shoot a battle like that, are you able to do that in one take or do you stop and start a lot?
We do shoot it through wide, but it depends on the director, to tell you the truth. With Paul he would let us run the whole thing. So by the end of that day, we were just tanked because we ran that scene probably 10, 12 times from different angles and close-ups. And then once you get in tighter, you don't run the whole thing.

But that's the other thing about these; even when you're pretending, there's adrenaline. They talk about when you come under fire you get tunnel vision, you lose dexterity, and all this stuff is happening to us and we're just pretending. So I can't even imagine what it's like to be in an actual firefight, to be actually pepper-potting and moving forward into the fire of oncoming people. It's just crazy.

So you guys couldn't do this for real?
[Laughs.] No way. I don't think we could. We're getting better at making it look good, but there's certainly a big difference between making it look good and doing it for real. When you talk to our military guys or you sit down with the real deals, you just go, "I'm an actor; you're an actual SAS [British Special Air Service] guy."

I'll speak for myself; I don't think we would [make it in a real battle]. It's a mind-set; it's training. It's years and years and years of professionalism and soldiering and being in the real thing.

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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Sep 05, 2012 8:14 pm


Tough action heroes ‘Strike Back’ anew
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 5, 2012 | 9:59 pm

Already busy with physical activities during his 14-hour work days, US actor Philip Winchester admits that getting in shape for the action-drama series “Strike Back” is a challenge.

“I probably put on about 15 pounds of muscle for the show,” said Winchester, who plays British Sgt. Michael Stonebridge in the Cinemax series.

“More than the workout and the running, it’s the eating,” he revealed to the Inquirer and other Asian publications in a recent phone interview. “It’s hard to eat that much food all the time. My wife helps out; she packs my lunch. I need 5,000 calories a day when we shoot!”

Winchester, 31, previously appeared on the short-lived “Camelot” series, and a few episodes of the hit sci-fi show “Fringe.”

The actor, whose mom is English, grew up in Montana but frequently visited England, and later studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Easier this year

Currently playing “Strike Back’s” tough sergeant and mentor figure, Winchester co-stars with Aussie actor Sullivan Stapleton, who plays US soldier Damien Scott. Both characters are operatives of a covert British antiterrorism group. Winchester admitted that it took time to get used to his role. “This year, it’s much easier to step into the show, the relationships and the military work,” he said.

The addition of Brit actress Rhona Mitra as Capt. Rachel Dalton changed the show’s dynamic, according to the actor. “I came into the season thinking that [Scott and Stonebridge] are the guys in the field and right away in the first episode, Rhona was out there with us, doing her military stuff,” he said. “It was great because we have this dynamic again that immediately challenged [us]. It was kind of lovely … these characters develop, over time, a respect for her as our leader, but there was also a lot of banter behind her back!”

Winchester is thankful for the physically demanding role, and the opportunity to follow in his action heroes’ footsteps. “I was a big fan of Bruce Willis’ ‘Die Hard,’ growing up,” he related. “I really enjoyed westerns with John Wayne; I would watch them with my father. I like Steven Seagal’s earlier movies … really cool and brutal. In terms of stuff coming out now, Tom Hardy is such an amazing actor but he can also do action. It’s an encouraging time to be an actor who wants to be involved in the action genre!”

(“Strike Back” season two will air on Fridays, 10 p.m. on Cinemax, starting Friday.)

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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Sep 05, 2012 8:15 pm


Explosions and omelettes: behind the scenes of an action show

WITH FANTASTIC action scenes, good-looking actors blowing up stuff, and sexy women kicking ass, British military action series Strike Back has all the ingredients that makes a TV hit.

But behind the thrilling action scenes, lead actor Philip Winchester reveals that they spend as much as 14 hours a day working on each episode to ensure they create a show that will glue audiences in front of their TV sets.

As Strike Back returns for its second season on Friday, 10 p.m., on cable channel Cinemax Asia, Mr. Winchester promises more of the high-octane, fist-pumping scenes that fans have grown to love, with story lines straight from today’s news headlines.

“We do everything for real,” Mr. Winchester told Manila-based reporters in a telephone interview last Wednesday. “If something blows up, it really blows up.”

The 31-year-old American actor plays Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, a British military intelligence (MI6) agent who is a member of a top-secret, anti-terrorist organization known as Section 20.

He and his partner, former US Delta force commando operative Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), take on deadly missions to save the world from terrorist attacks.

Taking off from where the six-episode first season ended in 2010, the second season begins with Stonebridge leaving the Section 20 team to train recruits in the UK so he can be close to his wife Kerry (Alexandra Moen).

Meanwhile, Scott is on an assignment in Kenya to secure the transfer of a Libyan national seeking asylum to British Embassy officials.

The show was shot on location in South Africa for story line locations including Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique, Algeria, Zimbabwe, England, and South Africa itself. The production crew worked with a team of consultants in the field of counterterrorism and the military to maintain a realistic tone.

In addition, the cast endured nearly a month of military training and tactics to prepare for the shoot.

Mr. Winchester, who appeared in movies like The Patriot (1998), Thunderbirds (2004) and Flyboys (2006), said he gained 15 pounds of muscle for the show by eating egg omelets every two hours, undergoing extensive daily physical training -- which included waking up at 5:30 a.m. to do a three-mile run before hitting the gym for two hours of weight training.

“We keep ourselves physically fit not only because it is our job, not only for our appearance, but also because every day on Strike Back we are running around, we are jumping, we are fighting, we are doing stuff with our weapons. It serves like a backdrop to our characters. It also serves as something that protects us doing our work because if you are unhealthy, I don’t think we can walk away safely from all the stunts that we do,” Mr. Winchester said.

Aside from the physical training, Mr. Winchester said real soldiers from Britain’s elite Special Air Service trained them in explosives, live-fire weapons, and close-quarter fighting, among others.

“We make it look like it should look. That is really something that we strive for, and something that we really wanted to protect going to our second season,” Mr. Winchester explained.

“We don’t want [the show] to look silly and become like an action hero movie. We wanted to keep that real essence of military guys doing what they have been taught to do, and doing it very well,” he added.

With all the big action stunts and explosions, Mr. Winchester admits that there have been some close calls on the set.

“You practice, you rehearse, and you hope something does not go wrong.

You trust your stunt guys, you trust your special effects guys. [But] this year, we got really close. There were some really big explosions, and you just have to think at the back of your head that what we are doing, in real life, is really dangerous,” he said.

“We’re getting better at making [the stunts] look good, but there’s certainly a big difference between making it look good and doing it for real,” he added.

The second season of Strike Back starts airing Friday, 10 a.m. on Cinemax Asia. Cinemax Asia is Channel 11 on G Sat, Channel 36 on SkyCable, Channel 55 on Cignal Digital TV and Channel 62 on Global Destiny Cable. -- J. O. Valisno
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptySat Sep 08, 2012 7:46 pm


Strike Back star is soldiering on
By Scott Kara
7:00 AM Saturday Sep 8, 2012

As the second season of Strike Back kicks off, there's even more explosions and more action, but there are other changes afoot.

Yes, Philip Winchester knows he's just an actor playing a special forces action man in shoot-'em-up television series Strike Back.

He knows those aren't real bullets being fired at him (although during his army training in preparation for the role he did fire live rounds). And he also knows the Somali war lord, Waabri, who's on his tail and deadset on destruction in the second series of the show, which starts on Soho this week, is also just an actor.

But through playing British operative Sgt Michael Stonebridge, an upstanding member of covert counter-terrorism unit Section 20, Winchester (last seen here in Fringe and mini series Camelot) has a good idea of the intensity and danger these soldiers face in the field.

"I couldn't for one second pretend to do what these guys do in the real world. But the reality of what we're doing in the show comes out of real training, real adrenalin and a genuine place in our hearts," he says from his home in Montana, having just got back from Johannesburg where Strike Back is filmed.

He says after a day on set "firing AK47s out of cars", explosions going off around him, and glass shattering everywhere, "you get home at night and you're rushing".

That's Strike Back for you. The show, based on the novels by real-life former British Special Forces operative Chris Ryan, is an unashamed chest-beating action series. It follows Stonebridge and his more gung ho partner, Sgt Damien Scott (played by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, Animal Kingdom), into volatile areas where they deal to everyone from terrorists and war lords to drug traffickers and sex slave traders.

While it's not a deep psychological spy thriller, like Homeland for example, it's a gritty show about humanity, and more importantly, survival.

"Stonebridge and Scott are not necessarily good or bad, they just do what they do," says Winchester. "And I think one of the things I really enjoy about it is that Scott and Stonebridge may be working for Queen and country, and the terrorists are off 'doing bad things', but when these two factions meet in the field it's just about getting out alive. It doesn't matter what's right or wrong, it's just about being able to get up the next morning. When the shit hits the fan both sides have been taught how to survive and one of them is going to make it and one of them isn't."

As the second season kicks off things have changed in the Section 20 ranks. Stonebridge is back in Britain being a dutiful husband, suffering from a bout of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and training recruits. Scott is on a mission in Kenya, but when he gets caught by Waabri, Stonebridge heads to Somali capital Mogadishu to try and get him and British attaches Patrick Burton and Rachel McMillan (played by actress Rhona Mitra, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Boston Legal) out.

Winchester says it's almost like a change of roles for Stonebridge and Scott, with his character the more vulnerable and hot-headed one, while Sullivan's usual macho ladies' man becomes the reasoned and reliable one.

"We had a lot of fun with the challenges of coming into a show where you think you know all about the characters and where we were going to go and then it was completely different. So it was great to be sitting across from each other and saying, 'I can't believe I'm saying that'."

In the first episode Stonebridge is torn between his devotion to his wife and loyalty to Section 20 - and he deals with it terribly by running away to save his mate in Somalia. It's this flawed character that drew Winchester to the role almost two years ago when he first read the script.

"He's not perfect. And when you get given an opportunity to play somebody in a show it's always the brokenness that the story hinges on, because that's where drama lives.

"He's this consumate professional. He wants so desperately to be a good husband and to be a father, but he can't figure it out - and he's always been able to figure things out. And he can be quite posh. But also, when stuff goes wrong and he gets pissed off, this rougher side comes out in him and that really is who he is. I like that about him."

For a brutal and often graphic series Strike Back was a popular hit last year and as a result it had a far bigger budget to play with this time round. So there are even bigger and better explosions, more shoot-outs, and it looks more refined and moodier.

Another noticeable change in the second series is that there is not as much shagging. The sex scenes - mainly featuring Scott - seemed a little random in the first series, making you wonder when soldiers on the frontline could find time for a quickie with child traffickers and war lords on the loose.

"I joked with Sulli' all the time, I'd come on set and say, 'who'd you shag today?'," laughs Winchester. "But he did mention that it was quite a bit different this year and there is less of it because Scott's character has more of a relationship with some of his relations this season. So they've really changed the show haven't they?"

What: Strike Back
Who: Actor Philip Winchester as Sgt Michael Stonebridge
Where & when: Tuesdays, 8.30pm, Soho

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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptySun Oct 14, 2012 4:57 pm


Philip Winchester talks "Strike Back"

By - Joey Hancock


“Diplomacy is overrated” is the tag line for this season of Cinemax’s original series "Strike Back," and if you haven’t been watching Friday nights at 10 p.m. go set your DVRs now.

Filled with action packed scenes, explosions, amazing fire fights and intense story telling "Strike Back" fills the large void of action television which hasn’t had a true contender since Fox’s “24” went off the air.

The series follows an elite British tactical unit known as Section 20 with the always stoic Sargent Michael Stonebridge , played by Philip Winchester, and the playboy american Damien Scott, played by Sullivan Stapleton, leading the charge. The current season has the team chasing down nuclear weapons in South Africa and the man behind the conflict, Conrad Knox, played by Charles Dance.

Extreme fire fights and massive explosions comprise most of the episodes during the beginning of the season but underneath all the action is an extremely well written story that encompasses the tragedy of war and the internal demons that real life special forces operatives have to deal with in their every day lives.
The season begins with Sgt. Stonebridge suffering a catastrophic personal loss and Winchester spoke about how this moment changed his character from who he was in the first season.

“Well, you know, right off the bat, they kind of threw me a curve ball with that first - those first two episodes. So, when I first read the script, I was like ‘okay, we’re taking this to a whole new direction.’ It was easy to step into the training stuff and the war stuff and it was much harder to step into the personal stuff. However, when we got deeper into the year and the characters of Scott and Stonebridge, in a way, they didn’t flip-flop. I mean, I didn’t become Scott. But he became a lot more wearing his – you know, his stuff on his sleeves kind of a character. And that was a fun place to go because I knew who Stonebridge was at the end of last year. So, for me as an actor, it was a much easier transition into a kind of a darkness and into the struggle that he was having with himself, with his marriage, with his relationship with Scott,” said Winchester.

The change in Stonebridge during the current season has been drastic from where he was during the first season. The darkness inside of him is slowly seeping to the surface and overtaking him. All the while he still has to stay on mission and complete the tasks of Section 20 without his internal struggle interfering, but it doesn’t always work.

The show has excellent action scenes with Winchester and Stapleton doing 95% of the stunt work and are actually being blasted by fire and shrapnel from explosions on set. This intense action is possible do to the training they receive from real special forces consultants that work on the show. Winchester and Stapleton took part in fight training, gun training, and also went on a reconnaissance mission to track a drug cartel leader while in Africa. The training the actors go through shows in the show from the way they hold their guns to the way they clear rooms and deal with suspects.

With all the action taking place it would seem like the story would take a backseat, like many action films, but with "Strike Back" there is nothing farther from the truth, and is looked at as a challenge to the actors.

“The explosions, the car chases, the, you know, the fun stuff, as Sully and I call it, is easy because I'm a guy. I enjoy that stuff. I enjoy the physicality. I fall into that stuff really easy. You give me a gun, I know how it works. I know how to load it. I know how to check it. If it jams, I can clean it. I can run with it. I can do all that kind of stuff. That's easy for me. The challenge comes when you have to find the balance between telling the story in an interesting fashion in 45 minutes on a cable television show and making it digestible and interesting but also making it real. The audience expects certain things. But as an actor, when you start to just throw grenades for no reason and you start to make noise and then you're going silent and, you know, if you're going into a building and you're going silent – you know, like "Why don’t you just throw a grenade down that corridor?" And we would have to stop to see and then have a chat on set and say, "You know what, this doesn’t makes sense for our character." And so, the biggest responsibility for us especially Scott, Sully, and I this year, was to maintain the integrity of who these characters were. And it's just kind of part and parcel of life. Like all the kind of noises on the outside and yet enjoyable sometimes and you can have fun in that, but the real meaningful stuff is in the relationships. And so, it's really important that as a community of people making the show, not only the writers, producers, directors and us, actors, but also, you know, the crew that we're working with – that we understand that we are making an action show. But we're making an action show with brand. You know, we're doing something that is different. But we also have to be very responsible with how we tell these stories. And our audience knows these characters now. They know what they're capable of. They know what they're not so good at,” said Winchester.

Season 3 of "Strike Back" was announced October 3 and is hoping to once again see a rise in ratings as it has this past year, and with the rise in ratings the show is sure to see a rise in budget to make it even better.

Overall the response to the show has been great with much of the action sequences taking point but the true fans of the show understand the importance of the relationships on screen.

“I think what gave us kind of a leg up last year – when the audience saw our show – and I know that the military saw our show because we keep getting e-mails from military guys and from fans who really respect the show and get it – they kept saying, "We love the action. We love the crazy stuff. But we've really liked the relationships,” said Winchester.

Hopefully in the future these relationships will continue to grow and the show will continue to be Cinemax’s most successful show. You never know what is going to happen in any given episode and looking forward no one can predict what will happen, but one thing that can be predicted is the two stars, Winchester and Stapleton are surely on the rise.

"Strike Back" can be seen Friday nights at 10 p.m. on Cinemax, and on your computer at www.maxgo.com and on your smartphone or tablet with the Max Go app.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Oct 24, 2012 2:12 pm


Philip Winchester

Philip Winchester (left) and Sullivan Stapleton (right) two of the lead characters in the Cinemax original series Strike Back. Photo by David Bloomer.

By Joey Hancock
Special for Modern Times Magazine

Oct. 20, 2012 — When the critically acclaimed action series 24 went off the air in 2010 it left a massive void in the landscape of action television. That void has finally been filled with Cinemax’s first original series in 15 years, Strike Back.

Currently airing Friday nights at 10 p.m. Strike Back, now in its second season, has everything fans of action series and movies want, without all the pointless one-liners and terrible story lines. Loosely based on the book of the same name by ex-military intelligence operative Chris Ryan, Strike Back is filled with intense firefights, massive explosions and camaraderie that is rarely seen in the action genre, especially between the two main characters, Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, portrayed by Philip Winchester (Fringe, Camelot) and Sgt. Damien Scott, portrayed by Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom). The two are members of a secret military intelligence regiment known as Section 20, and along with other intelligent and interesting characters, the team searches for war lords bent on world destruction.

Instead of focusing on the action going on around the characters, which is a major portion of the show, the series focuses on the internal demons of both Stonebridge and Scott while portraying the high octane action sequences and relationships in a realistic manner.

Winchester thinks the relationships between the characters are the most important thing about the show and makes him feel like they are doing their jobs by telling interesting stories in a realistic manner in a 45 minute cable television show.

“I think what gave us kind of a leg up last year when the audience saw our show — and I know that the military saw our show because we keep getting e-mails from military guys and from fans who really respect the show and get it — they kept saying, ‘We love the action. We love the crazy stuff. But we've really liked the relationships,’” said Winchester.

At the end of season two, the change in the dynamic between Stonebridge and Scott had been turned on its head. Stonebridge, the always stoic and professional soldier, and Scott the American playboy, former Delta Force soldier, have in some ways swapped ideals. This season, Scott is more focused and has taken on the leadership role in the group as Stonebridge has become more hot-headed and unpredictable. These changes began early on this season after a tragic personal loss in Stonebridge’s life and came to a tipping point during the season finale.

The show has become a cult hit among fans, and Winchester believes the action in the show is important but at its heart the show is about the teamwork and interactions between the members of Section 20 are a big reason behind the success.

“The explosions, the car chases, the, you know, the fun stuff, as Sully and I call it, is easy because I'm a guy. I enjoy that stuff. I felt like our responsibility to keep the show real was really challenged this year. The biggest responsibility for us especially Sully, and I this year, was to maintain the integrity of who these characters were,” said Winchester.

The real life special forces the actors are portraying help in the creation of each episode to make it as realistic as possible. Both Winchester, Stapleton and other members of the cast and crew went through training exercises to learn how to handle weapons, ballistics, and fighting, essentially to learn how to act as close to ‘real’ soldiers as possible. They even took part in reconnaissance missions in South Africa and Hungary. One the South Africa mission, where much of the series is filmed, they even helped to track a drug dealer.

Winchester and Stapleton do 95 percent of the stunt work and have even been a bit too close to the Hollywood pyrotechnics at times, walking away with singed eyebrows and arms. The level of commitment by the actors sets the show apart from many action movies and series when it is obvious there is no way an actor is doing certain stunts. The only time Winchester and Stapleton do not do their own stunts is if time does not permit, but for the most part it is them on the screen.

As the series moves forward — it was renewed for a third season Oct. 3 — many changes may be taking place to improve the show and help the story and characters grow. Thanks to rising popularity, the series is likely to receive a larger budget, but Winchester hopes more money will not change the heart of the show.

“My biggest fear, when you see a production start to get bigger, is that people start to throw money at problems. That certainly has never been a problem with Strike Back and I don’t ever want it to be. I want us to figure out problems with integrity and creativity because that’s what storytellers do,” said Winchester.

The series is sure to grow in stature and action and the characters are sure to evolve, but if the writers and actors continue down the path they have begun, it will be easy to see this show lasting for some time. There is a lot more story to tell and the show has found it’s niche in the broad cable network landscape as the only true action series with substance on television today.

As the show ends its second run and begins season three, there is a sense that all of the action and character development is leading to something more than just the typical climax series like these have and Winchester believes this is important for the legacy of the series.

“Each season that goes on, your responsibility gets bigger and bigger. You know, you can't tell a story for seven years and then not rack it up. You have to let these guys go somewhere. And the thing about the characters that we're finding out is that they might not be so good. So, I'm really intrigued to see where they start to go over the next few years. It'd be really interesting to see where these guys end up,” said Winchester.

Strike Back can be seen Friday nights at 10 p.m. on Cinemax and on the internet, tablets and smartphones, via www.maxgo.com and the MaxGo App.

Reach Joey Hancock at joeyh513@gmail.com.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Oct 24, 2012 2:12 pm


Strike Back Q&A: Philip Winchester 'There Will Be Some People That Die' In Season Finale
Access HollywoodAccess Hollywood – Fri, Oct 12, 2012 8:53 AM PDT

Cinemax's "Strike Back" wraps up its explosive second season this Friday and star Philip Winchester, who plays Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, revealed no one is safe.

In fact, when the network announced it had picked up the show for a third season recently, the cast list - including its two main stars - Philip and Sullivan Stapleton (who plays ex-US military man Damien Scott) - were left out of the press release to avoid plot spoilers.

PLAY IT NOW: Strike Back Season 2 Finale Preview - Access Exclusive

With "Strike Back" close to "Game of Thrones" in its penchant for offing central figures, the boys are suiting up for battle. But whether Stonebridge and Scott will get the man trying to make Africa a nuclear power -- Conrad Knox (played by "GOT's" Charles Dance) -- or Craig Hanson (who murdered Stonebridge's wife earlier in the season) is still anyone's guess.

Luckily, Philip gave AccessHollywood.com a few clues about what's to come.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Hot Stuff! The Sexy Stars Of Strike Back

AccessHollywood.com: Leaving the cast list off of the Season 3 pickup news sounds like bad news for the team in the Season 2 finale. How bad is it?

Philip Winchester: (Laughs) Well, because it's 'Strike Back,' it can be as bad as you like or as good as you like. The thing that I really enjoy about the show is that a lot of the time 'winning' means just surviving, so whether we get the bad guys or not, if we survive...that says we got away with it. So, [in this finale] there will be some things that happen, there will be some people that die. I would love to come back next year to do another season of 'Strike Back,' but I just can't tell you that (laughs again).

Access: There's a rumor Sullivan "Sully" Stapleton (Damien Scott) only had a two-year contract, so now I'm worried it could be him going.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Primetime Hunks

Philip: Every time Sully and I get a script -- because of the nature of the show and last year, with Richard Armitage, [who played John Porter] in the first episode, getting shot, and then Col. Grant in Episode 10 -- we read the beginning of the script and the end of the script and we kind of call each other and say, 'Hey! I guess we're here for another few weeks. Let's keep going.'

Access: Could you do the show without him? Could he do the show without you?

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Game Of Thrones Season 3: Meet The New Cast Members

Philip: I can't speak for Sully, but I know that just the experiences that I've had on 'Strike Back' are 99-percent with Sully... I think the integrity of what we've created together and this fun banter and competition that happens naturally because we just enjoy working together -- I just wouldn't want to do it without him. I don't think I could enjoy the show as much as I do without his sort of madness and his spontaneity.

Access: Let's talk about the potential threats for the 'Strike Back' season finale. You've got Conrad, Hanson, Matlock, the crazy ex-CIA woman and the Nigerians. Who's the biggest threat?

Philip: For Stonebridge, it's gotta be Hanson, and that whole whether or not he can or can't finish [things] with Hanson... I think this whole season [has been] building up to that point... I think for the audience - I'll let you know that much - there will be a confrontation with our two guys with Hanson and Stonebridge and one of them walks away and one of them doesn't.

Access: Are we going to get cliffhangers in the season finale or is it resolution?

Philip: We do get some resolution... It does leave a couple things open, what's gonna happen with Section 20, who's gonna lead Section 20... But it's 'Strike Back.' It can't be too clean.

Access: I love how 'Strike Back' has this strange connection to 'Game of Thrones' - actors come on your show either before or after!

Philip: (Laughs) Iain Glenn. Charles Dance. I know, it's fantastic.

Access: And Liam Cunningham who told us the show has 'two sexy guys for the leads' and one of the best opening songs ever.

Philip: (Laughs) He is absolutely brilliant. I think one of the reasons behind the success of 'Strike Back' is that yes, I know we do shoot a lot of people, but we have incredible guest stars. They come in and they are seasoned enough and experienced enough to pick up the reigns right where we are. To come into this mad shooting schedule -- we're shooting a feature film in 24 days -- it's bonkers. And they come on board and they say, 'How can we be a part of this? How can we help?'... It takes a certain attitude for someone to say, 'Oh, I've got it. I can do this.' So we're really fortunate and [Cinemax's parent company] HBO has their fingers on a lot of the pulse in the acting industry and they're able to pull the plug on some people that maybe we couldn't get otherwise.

Access: Now, a fair few people are only now learning 'Homeland's' Damien Lewis is British. Are people surprised to find the reverse about you - you're American, but play a Brit like you did in 'Camelot' on Starz?

Philip: (Laughs) When I moved to Los Angeles, I'd go into [an audition] and they'd go, 'Gosh, you've got a really good American accent. I really appreciate that you put the work in.' I'm like, 'Guys, I grew Bozeman, Montana, I better have a good American accent.' [After high school] I moved to London [and] I went to drama school. My mum's English, I've always had an ear for it, so it's not a huge leap... For me, as an actor, it's sort of an immediate layer that I can put on to a character.

Access: Since I brought up 'Camelot' - I have to ask -- do you ever miss those Leontes locks you had on the show?

Philip: My wife misses it... She keeps saying to me -- like in the interim between 'Strike Back' -- 'Can you please grow it out?' I'm like, 'Babe, it took like a year to grow that out.' So I don't' know if I could do it before the season starts. I'm doing like a No. 2 or a No. 1 on my head now because I just love how easy it is. I just shave my head and go out.

The Season 2 finale of "Strike Back" airs Friday at 10 PM on Cinemax.

-- Jolie Lash

Copyright 2012 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Oct 24, 2012 2:25 pm


'Strike Back' debrief: How to jump out of a helicopter
October 12, 2012|By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol | RedEye

How many actors would consider jumping out from a helicopter 49 feet to the roof of a 27-story building a perk of the job? Well, I can name three.

"Strike Back" stars Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton and Liam Garrigan did just that for the scene above from the Season 2 finale airing Friday on Cinemax. (See the photo here.)

"It's absolutely a perk of the job, yeah. And the fact that we get to do it is just bonkers," Winchester told me during a phone conversation Wednesday, adding that if the show was filmed in the U.S. or Britain, the actors wouldn't be allowed to do such dangerous stunts. "That's probably one of the big reasons why we shoot in South African and Budapest, Eastern Europe; we get away with an awful lot."

The fourth Section 20 operative in the scene--the one who counts down "3, 2, 1" before breaking in the door--is Paul Hornsby, one of the show's military advisers. Hornsby helped set up the stunt which had the four men fast-roping onto the rooftop in Johannesburg on what Winchester called "one of the coldest, windiest days while we were there."

"It was probably about 40 feet wide at the widest," said Winchester, who plays Sgt. Michael Stonebridge. "I mean, it was not a wide building. It looked like kind of we were hovering over a domino when we were up there."

Still, the cast members--who do about 95 percent of their own stunt work--weren't daunted by the task. Hornsby and the stunt crew work with them to choreograph stunts. There are risks, Winchester said, but the team tries to assure the risks are minimal.

Although the actor does admit to being a little fearful in such situations, most of the time they just enjoy what I dubbed their "woo-hoo!" moments.

"Yeah, there is certainly a "woo-hoo!" factor to it," he agreed. "I think it's funny because being in character when you do that stuff kind of covers a multitude of sins as well. So I feel like the Stonebridge in me is like, 'This is what I do. This is my job; it's no big deal. This is how we insert in a building. We stack up like this.'

"And then there's a little bit of the Philip in me going, 'Holy shit! What the hell am I doing?' So I try to keep in the Stonebridge mode as much as I can.

"Obviously when it happens, when it all works and we stack up and break in the door and we get off-camera, we stand there and we just jump up and down like a bunch of teenagers going, 'Oh, my God. That was fucking amazing!'"

Watch the Season 2 finale at 9 p.m. CT Oct. 12 or throughout the weekend on Cinemax. Come back for more interviews with Winchester, Michelle Lukes and Shane Taylor. Also, I will have an after-episode "debrief" with Winchester and Taylor.

Here are some past posts you might be interested in reading:
My first ever interview with Philip Winchester.
My Season 1 finale recap Winchester and Amanda Mealing.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on Show Patrol's Facebook page.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Oct 24, 2012 2:56 pm


What Makes a Strike Back Moment?

Strike Back Season 2 Episode 8 (10)

If you are a fan of the series, there has to be moments in the series that just strike you as being typical Strike Back moments. In exclusive interviews, we spoke with Philip Winchester (Michael Stonebridge), Michelle Lukes (Julia Richmond) and series director Michael Bassett about what they believe makes a Strike Back moment and here are their answers:

Philip Winchester (Michael Stonebridge):

You know, they vary from Sully and I, figuring out the banter for a scene and finding that little moment where we’re like there it is. “Oh, my gosh, what did you just say? And they’re kind of like having a little laugh together and figuring out those little moments, and it might be one or two beats in a scene that lasts five seconds.

All the way to hanging out on a speed rope or hanging on the skid or a helicopter hanging outside 27 stories over the top of Johannesburg, looking at Sully on the other side of the helicopter doing the same thing and him looking at me and then me looking at him just going: “can you believe we’re doing this?”

And here the director would yell action and we skid rope the other side of this helicopter. And it’s just moments like that are just unforgettable. And I think that as an actor and being a guy, I cannot believe the opportunities that we’ve been given and the chances that we’ve been allowed to take on this show and what’s brilliant is they’ve paid off.

We have the luxury of spending some time working as an action team, working up the dialogue and it’s paying off and I really appreciate that. I really appreciate that we have a clever audience.

So all of those from me are big “Strike Back” moments.

Michelle Lukes (Julia Richmond):

A massive fucking explosion, usually. I remember one episode where it was myself, Baxter and Scott at some container yard. And Baxter, Sully and I are down amongst the crates and Baxter blows up one of the the truck or some kind of oil drum. Obviously, he doesn’t do that in real life, so, it’ a controlled explosion. But I was desperate to be in. I thought I’d never get to be a part of this, and I was so excited to be on set that day.

So I’m sitting in my trailer, and all of a sudden, I heard the most enormous bang, and my trailer literally rocks off the side, like there’s milk coming out of the fridge. I missed it. I was eating my lunch and I missed it. And I ran out and I was just like, “Lame.” There was like stuff everywhere. There were like firemen, ambulance people and stunt men running around. It was absolutely crazy. I missed it. When I came out to see the aftermath, I thought that is a “Strike Back” moment. That’s an absolute, fantastic “Strike Back” moment, and I missed it.

Michael Bassett (Director):

To me, the key with “Strike Back” is to make sure that any character stuff happens in the middle of the action. So you never lose sight of why we are watching the show, it has got to be a combination and a perfect “Strike Back” moment is when Scott and Stonebridge are in an impossible situation and trying to do the right thing against overwhelming odds and retaining the sense of humor about it.

And then you can get those things to play all at the same time where the audience’s stomach is in their mouth because they can’t believe that our boys are ever going to get out of this, and yet they are wishing they will and at the same time, you see Stonebridge smile at Scott, and it’s a Butch Cassidy and Sundance vibe, isn’t it? You know, how the hell are they going to get out of this, but you know they are going to because these guys are the best at what they do and they are doing it for the right reasons.

I think that is the perfect “Strike Back” moment, when chaos is all around and we are on the ground with our boys, willing them to survive and willing them to do the right thing.

Now that we have heard from the people who make the series, my co-editor Sandrine and myself wanted to share what we think makes a Strike Back Moment:

Sandrine Sahakians:

For me a typical “Strike Back” moment is when Scott and Stonebridge get into one of their quintessential shootouts and manage to get out of it, using their skills and trust of each other. It always blows my mind just how quick and precise they are.

Americ Ngwije (Me):

A “Strike Back” moment is anytime Scott says “Buddy”, for some reason, I get a kick out of it.

Some great “Strike Back” moments, indeed. What about you? What makes a Strike Back moment for you? Share in the comments below or let us know on Twitter @tvequals.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyWed Oct 24, 2012 2:56 pm


Exclusive Interview: Strike Back’s Philip Winchester On Season 2 Finale, Season 3 Wishes & A Message For Fans

Philip Winchester

There is something to be said about a good ol’ case of revenge.

And no one knows this better than Michael Stonebridge as he gets the opportunity to exact revenge on his arch-nemesis Hanson in the season 2 finale of Strike Back. As part of our Strike Back Day, TV Equals was extremely lucky to be able to talk to the always cool Philip Winchester about what viewers can expect in the season 2 finale of Strike Back, his wishes for season 3 and what he would do if he could meet Michael Stonebridge in real life.

Check out what he had to say below and don’t miss tonight’s season finale of Strike Back which airs at 10pm on Cinemax.

(Note: The following interview contains spoilers of the current season. Do not read it if you haven’t caught up yet and don’t want to be spoiled.)

Congrats on getting a third season

Philip Winchester: It’s exciting isn’t it? You just never know when you do this kind of stuff. You just never know what’s going to land and what isn’t but I’m so glad this is the one that’s taking off.

What can you tease about the upcoming season finale?

Philip Winchester: Well, obviously we have to wrap up a lot of stories and that was the challenging thing this year with the show. I don’t think we’re the type of show that wants to leave things hanging. So we do wrap up some major stories and we actually leave a couple open in true Strike Back fashion. And then the finale obviously takes place in Johannesburg and as far as this season, it’s got some serious cliffhangers and I think [director] Bill Eagles did an amazing job because it was a massive production in these last two episodes and we crammed so much stuff into them but I think it works. I don’t think we sacrificed any drama for action and things like that. I think that they balance out quite nicely.

Obviously there is a build-up between Hanson and Stonebridge leading to that showdown. What can you tease about that?

Philip Winchester: I can tell you that they meet each other. I can tell you that they have a fun confrontation. They definitely resolve things.

Alexandra Moen

Stonebridge went through very dark moments this season with the death of his wife. How do you feel the character has evolved?

Philip Winchester: It’s not as if an actor in my position really has a say on what job he gets or not but when I read the script, I said to my wife: “boy, I really like this character and I would like to have a chance at this character because he is broken, he is flawed.”

And even last season we saw that. He was having an affair with Kate all while still trying to start a family in his marriage, that separation between work and his relationship was just really convoluted and cloudy. And so, coming into this season, all that stuff is still part of Stonebridge’s make-up which has a kind of default where he has to: be the best soldier, to keep going, to keep working hard. In a way, he can’t spend any time in a relationship, part of him is shattered because of the loss of his wife, so this part which he has been trying to dedicate his life to.

We started off the second season with Stonebridge training soldiers for possible Section 20 recruitment and he’s not working with Section 20 anymore because he’s spending time on his marriage in the context of the miscarriage. He’s trying to fix things up, and when that goes, I think there’s a part of that foundation inside of him that cracks and crumbles in a way that he never experienced before. He’s lost people in the field and that’s a different thing. He’s tried to keep his marriage and his work like completely separate and it fails in episode 2.

And so, coming to this season, all those dark things happening, I think what was lovely about the writing and lovely about the way that we were allowed to explore that with the directors was that it was just kind of spontaneous. The stuff would happen and it would happen on a mission field, it would happen while Scott was watching him one moment and then in other moments in episodes three and four where he’s out in the field and he’s chatting with El Soldat. He’s got a signal to shoot and I don’t actually believe that Stonebridge wants to die but I actually believe Stonebridge just in that moment, he’s the best of the best, he’s been trained by the best, he believes that no matter what happens in that moment he’s still going to make it out but it’s a risk he’s willing to take because he doesn’t have a reason to live anymore.

So it’s one of those things where the darkness comes because he lost his reasons and he lost his purpose, and so I think that it was a really nice change this year for him. Plus it was a challenge because we finished last season going: “Okay, I think we know who these characters are and then we started on this season and they were completely different”. As an actor it was fun to kind of figure out these guys in a new light.

Strike Back Season 2 Episode 8 (2)

If you had the opportunity to meet Stonebridge in real life what would you tell him?

Philip Winchester: I think that first of all I’d say thank you for doing what he does. When I meet soldiers, I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve been able to meet a lot of guys who are in the military who enjoy the show, and they’ll come up to me in the airports or [at] different events. We’ve been out in Las Vegas doing events, in New York and L.A. and they’ll come up and say hi. So I’ll just say thank you and then talk about what works and what doesn’t work, and we talk about the show and the reality stuff and the things that they believe and don’t believe.

But if it was out of context, if it was just meeting with this guy, I don’t know if he’s the type of person I’d want to have dinner with, I think he’s too dedicated to what he does. I don’t think he involves himself in that way, I think he has a few drinks with his mates every once in a while but that’s it.

Not that he’s boring, it’s just that he is so into what he does that there’s really nothing else, and I think he expects that to take him through the end. I think there’s a certain part of Stonebridge that expects to die in the field because of what he does and because of the extreme kind of circumstances in which he involves himself in. I don’t think he is counting his days. He doesn’t want to die but he’s really kind of going: “you know what, the odds are stacked against me now. I’ve survived more than I haven’t so I’ve got to take one here soon.”

You think it would be different if instead of meeting Stonebridge in real life you’d meet Damian Scott?

Philip Winchester: Absolutely, we could go out for some beers. That would be great. I know that my wife wouldn’t like me having him as a friend.

What scene of this season sits with you the most?

Philip Winchester: As you can tell we’ve had some pretty big dramatic, scenes and some climactic scenes. There were a couple in particular that really stuck out. I really enjoyed the collaboration of the stuff inside the jailhouse when we worked with [director] Michael Bassett. It was just this nice, claustrophobic atmosphere that we were able to develop and yet keep the characters in their element of doing what they did and it has to be done within this, 20 by 20 room. I thought that was a really fun way to spend. I think we spent about three or four days shooting that stuff. And then the action scenes that happened in that were really big and really in your face. I like that kind of stylish shooting.

We also shot in a couple of the townships around Capetown and that’s just full on. You throw yourself into these people’s lives and the people that live in the townships were absolutely gracious and understanding that we were firing AK-47s at 6:00 o’clock in the morning and up until 10:00 o’clock at night and just to run around, to see the inner workings of that was a real privilege and I really enjoyed seeing how that works and just to be a part of that was really special for me. And then of course we had some really nice explosions this year which was a lot of fun to a part of.

Strike Back Season 2 Episode 6

Yes, there is a photo of you just flying.

Philip Winchester: There’s a lot of that going on. There was one scene where Damian Scott does the body double trick and puts one of the bodies in the ambulance which explodes next to me.

And just for me, that scene, because I was about 30 feet away from that thing. I was handcuffed. I had duct tape over my mouth. I could run away but I just remember when the thing exploded in front of me, it happened in bullet time in my mind.

So I saw the first explosion take the doors off and then the second one take it off the ground. And then because we’re in a building, all of the fireballs that were around it hit the roof and then started to spiral underneath the van as the van picked up through it. I just thought I cannot believe this is happening.

And then still in my mind, I said thank god, it was bullet time. I was, like: “shit, you got to act. You got to act.” I think it’s one of the better firefights in both seasons coming up in episodes nine and ten. It was really a lot of work but I think it really pays off.

The series does an excellent job of balancing action and drama while also injecting humor. How is that achieved?

Philip Winchester: The banter does come out of that brotherhood competition between Sully and I, like a natural competition him and I. And also, the work is really rigorous and it’s really tough. And if we’re not working the 12-hour, 14-hour days, we’re working in the gym,, we’re training. Or we’re doing military training with our military advisers and stuff.

When there are moments where it can be light, we really go out and run with it. And a lot of time because when writers put that down on their script, when on the page it looks like it can work. Then we also get in a scene where we have like 20 pages of just drama so we decide to lighten things up.

Even if it’s just a dramatic scene, let’s keep it light because one of the things we learned from hanging out with the military guys and having our advising and our military training for the month that we do before we start the show, is they have this real brilliant sense, this gallows humor which is great. They’ve got this really wonderfully wicked way of making light of the most horrific situations and it’s a coping mechanism,. And so we wanted to get that into these characters. We want that to be a part of who they are.

strike Back season 2 finale

I was dying of laughter when you guys were doing the counting thing, so it’s 3, 2, 1, 0 and go

Philip Winchester: [laughs] And that’s like no. That is not right. It’s not right.

I actually agree with Scott on this one. He was like no. It’s 3,2,1 and go. Just saying.

Philip Winchester: [laughs] I know. I had a huge row with the writers because I knew he was right and I knew it made more sense but it was just a flaw in Stonebridge so we had to run with it.

Assuming that there is a third season and you are king for a day, what would you like to happen to your character?

Philip Winchester: I want to get in the water. I think we’ve earned it. I think the audience wants to see it. We want to shoot it. I’d love to get some diving stuff in there. Stonebridge is SBS, the Special Boat Service. He’s a swimmer, right? He’s a diver and I’d love to get him and Scott coming on in the water with all the rigs.

I’d love to get this from a water to a boat and that kind of stuff. I should be careful what I ask for because we’ll probably do it in the dead of winter or something like that. I think that that’s a production element which is totally believable. It’s something that these guys do. It’s what they’re trained for and it’s an element we haven’t seen yet so I’d really like to incorporate that in the coming year/years, god willing that happens.

Also I want to take it away from Africa. I love Africa. I love filming there. I think the crews and everybody there are absolutely amazing, but from an artistic standpoint and from an audience standpoint, we’ve shot so much of Cape Town and Johannesburg and slums and desert and beautiful townships and things like that, I think we’re ready for some really recognizable cities, and I think it would be really cool to get this sucker to London for a finale or to just a major city somewhere in Europe. I know we did Budapest last year and that was great, but I’d love to get it over to London or Paris or something like that. I think it would just be brilliant.

Do you have any message for the fans?

Philip Winchester: Gosh, you know, we were able to be in this second season because of them. Should we survive, we’re looking forward to doing the third season and it really is all for them and we’d love to hear ideas. We love to hear questions and concerns and things like that. But I hope that they enjoy it, and if we survive this at the end of the season finale, I hope we give them what they want next year too.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptySat Aug 10, 2013 12:01 am


Saving the World with Strike Back's Philip Winchester
With the Strike Back Season 2 Blu-ray out this week, star Philip Winchester talks to IGN about the new direction and dangers of Season 3.
August 8, 2013
by Matt Fowler

This Friday, August 9th, the explosive, globe-trotting Cinemax action series Strike Back returns to our lives with its third season - featuring stars Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton as badass Section 20 agents Stonebridge and Scott. Their target this year is an elusive terrorist mastermind named al-Zahuri, who makes the mistake of making things personal after causing the death of a fellow Section 20 agent.

Also this week, Strike Back: The Complete Second Season hit Blu-ray shelves, complete with audio-commentary tracks featuring both Winchester and Stapleton, who take us through many of the twists and turns from last year's high-octane African adventure.

I had the chance to talk to star Philip Winchester, who plays Michael Stonebridge, about the Season 2 Blu-ray as well as the upcoming all-new season of bullets, bombs, and stomach bugs.

IGN: When you saw how gorgeous Season 2 looked on Blu-ray, did it make all the hard work worthwhile?

Philip Winchester: Yeah, definitely. It was a lot of fun seeing it and being in the room with everyone. And this last commentary was done right on the heels of Season 3. We actually did it in Johannesburg, whereas Season 1 we did some commentary right after the season back in Los Angeles. So this year, when we got back to Johannesburg for Season 3, the first thing we did was get together with some of the old directors and some of the other people and sat down and watched it and talked about it. So it was really nice to refresh ourselves before we got thrown into Season 3 with [showrunner] Michael Bassett and all the mad things he wanted to do. It was kind of like a prep course for what was coming our way.

IGN: As adept as Stonebridge and Scott are, things rarely go according to plan for them. And from hearing the commentary tracks, it seemed like that was also the case with regards to a lot of the location shooting you guys did.

Winchester: It really was. And still is. I think one of the biggest luxuries we have on the show - aside from having amazing guest roles and incredible action - is that we have the ability to fly by the seat of our pants. Sometimes that comes because the script's not there and sometimes that comes because they are they and they just don't work. But mostly it comes from the fact that Sully [co-star Sullivan Stapleton] and I know what we're doing when we get put in situations. We know the training. And our directors trust that, and our producers trust the directors.

I'd say we have a team of about eight of us who've been at this since day one and we really have an understanding of the show. And the producers, in a very trusting way, often look at us and just say "Okay, guys. Make it work." And I don't think that happens very often. Not on network television certainly, where you have to hit a spot, look at a light, say your line in a certain way, and then leave. Strike Back doesn't live inside those boxes. And I think it works. I think the audience can see that there's a rawness to what we're shooting. And a lot of the time it's just Sully and I looking at each other going "This doesn't work, this doesn't work. How are we going to fix it?" And we'll just improvise and it'll be the stuff that makes it to the cut.

IGN: Would you say the production mechanism on Strike Back has gotten better and smoother since the beginning, or is it always challenging because of the places you guys shoot?

Winchester: It's just a difficult show. The nature of what we're doing is difficult. We're shooting a huge action show in 24 days. So, breaking down a season, we're shooting five action movies (two-episode stories) in six months. And they've got to be big, they've got to be great, they've got to have great characters. All the things that matter. And it's getting harder because, let's see, we will have done 15 movies now. So about 30 episodes. And you want your story to stay original. You want your characters to be integral and remain interesting to the audience. And that's one of the challenges as we head further and further down the line as a series on TV. It has to remain entertaining. And so we're always trying to challenge our writers and directors and producers about that stuff and saying "Look, our characters have done that. What about this? Or how about that storyline?" So they're listening to us and we're listening to them and there's a lot of collaboration going on to keep us going for years to come. If that happens. If we even survive Season 3. [laughs]

IGN: One of the things that I've always loved about Strike Back is how no two action set pieces, or episodes, feel the same. So you're saying that's part of a conscious effort?

Winchester: Absolutely. Sully and I have a pretty good grasp of what we've done. And we can spot things pretty quickly if a writer starts to repeat something or tell a story that's already been told. And also our director Michael Bassett, who came on last season to direct episodes 7 and 8, and then came on this season as our lead director and showrunner - directing episodes 1 and 2, and then 9 and 10 - stayed on board to help mold the scripts and make sure it was going in the right direction and to prevent things from going off the rails. We have really open conversations with him about this stuff all the time. It is a luxury because it doesn't happen on other shows, but it's also integral because we can turn around and literally say "Hang on a second. We've already done this. How can we change this scene?" And it's happened where we'll get halfway through a scene and think "Oh my gosh. This is starting to look exactly like another scene. How can we change it? How can we change the character's motivation?" And it's all pretty off-the-cuff and spur-of-the-moment.

IGN: You mentioned the great guest stars you guys get. But you guys hardly ever get any scenes with them. Especially if they're a villain. You had Charles Dance in every episode last year and I don't think you ever met.

Winchester: [laughs] Exactly. We didn't even get to kill him in the end. That was the last we saw of him. We had this quick little scene in Johannesburg where he gets attacked by civilians on the street and I remember that we had this crazy day shooting in these underground mines and we were running out of light. And we literally had a half an hour to shoot this grand finale scene for the show. And that was the half an hour that I got to work with Charles Dance. [laughs] It was just thirty minutes before the sun went down on a Friday and then we were done. We got on a plane and headed back for post-production. That was it. That was my time with Tywin Lannister.

IGN: It must be very cool and rewarding to get to shoot in so many places around he world, but you guys don't always wind up in paradise. Listening to the commentary track from Season 2...you got sick from airborne fecal matter? And then a lot of the neighborhoods were dangerous...

Winchester: Yeah, we don't always get taken to the best parts of the places we're in. That's for sure. [laughs] Bill Eagles, our lead director last season, was very interested in the tapestry and ground work of places that weren't so nice. So we were in places like Hillbrow. We were in really tough neighborhoods where we had to have armed guards protect us while we were walking around and shooting a scene. So it was a really weird dynamic, I thought, where we were shooting scenes fully kitted up for the show. All our gear and all our weapons. And then we had guys just off camera who were protecting us. So yeah, we shot in some Nigerian gang-ruled apartment buildings. Places where you would have been waist-deep in trash if it hadn't been cleaned out for production. But then every once in a while we got to go to some really cool spots. Budapest is beautiful. We went there this year. We started this season in a place called KwaZulu-Natal, just below Mozambique on the wild coast in South Africa. It truly stands up to its name. It's wild, it's beautiful, it's dangerous. So we had a ball there. You you win a few, you lose a few.

Find out what Season 3 has in store for you on Page 2...

IGN: What can you tell us about the places you'll visit in Season 3?

Winchester: We start the season out with Scott and Stonebridge on holiday, and they're running motorbikes down the west coast in the States, having a good time. And then something happens back in Section 20 that requires them to hop on a C-130 and head down to Colombia. We didn't go to Colombia, but we used KwaZulu-Natal as a stand in. We're in Colombia for a while and then we head to Beirut. And so we're in Lebanon for a while. Then to Germany and then to Budapest. Then we finish in Russia.

IGN: I see (in Wiki, so it might not be accurate) that the British Sky 1 title for this season of Strike Back might be Strike Back: Shadow Warfare. How might that term relate to the season?

Winchester: It's funny, [laughs] the network comes up with the titles after we're done with the show so I assume they're picking up something from what we're giving them. I know one of the things we did this year was explore what would happen if, like, the new enemies and the old enemies met up. So our version of an Al Qaeda leader meeting up with an IRA leader. And they're trying to get their hands on some weapons that they can use to do damage to the west. But it involves an amalgamation of two different enemies, with their style and their fighting and it makes Section 20 and it makes Scott and Stonebridge change the way they fight. So the title "Shadow Warfare" could be a nod to the fact that Scott and Stonebridge are learning as they go and change their tactics as they go. They're also becoming more like leaders within Section 20. So that's changing how they approach situations. That would be my opinion as to why they chose that title. That's just an educated guess.

IGN: Stonebridge went through a lot last year, what with the murder of his wife and him wanting revenge. What's his head like this year? Where is he at?

Winchester: I wanted to start this season out with Stonebridge figuring this stuff out in a real way. I did some work with a PTSD counsellor in Johannesburg and she dealt with guys coming out of Angola, Iraq and Afghanistan. And we'd just talk about what these guys are going through. She didn't give me any details about these guys personally, but we could talk openly about what they'd experienced and how they dealt with it. So I wanted that to be the framework for Stonebridge this year, and also his temper - which is always going to be something he's dealing with. And how that might be even more of a problem now or if he's learned how to deal with it. And his relationship with Scott and what's that's looking like. As their trust for each other grows, and their brotherhood grows, how that changes their relationship in the field.

Stonebridge is ever evolving in the sense that he wants to be the perfect soldier but he knows he isn't. And it's becoming more and more apparent to him as he makes mistakes and recovers from mistakes. And also as he watches Scott and watches his attitude towards the field and towards Section 20. I know one of the things that we really focused on this year - Sully and I as Scott and Stonebridge - was whether or not Section 20 was right for them anymore.

A big question that kind of hovers over the characters for the whole season is "Are we done?" Are we done physically? Are we done emotionally? Are we done mentally? Is this something we can continue to do? So that was a fun thing to play with because there's always talk of your game when you're in this field. I'm 32 years old, I'd probably already be out of it in real life. In the show we can get away with it. But these guys have a "sell by" date and what we're always looking at on the show is the reality of it all. If we can make it real. The action real, the stunts real, the soldering real. But we also have to make the consequences real. So they're carrying around a lot of s*** now. And it's going to start to eat away at them. At their credibility, at their personality, at their love life.

IGN: Can you talk about this year's guest stars?

Winchester: Well, we've got Dougray Scott. And I actually lucked out and Dougray and I have some great scenes together. Dougray plays an ex-SAS soldier called Leatherby and he just killed it. He killed it this season. First of all, I worked with his wife [Claire Forlani] a few years back on Camelot, and sometimes Dougray was on the set and he was always intimidating because he's played a lot of bad guys and he's got that great Scottish accent. So I got to know him pretty well and he came on board with some really awesome ideas. And by the time we were in the edit bay and watching what he'd done, we saw that he just absolutely smoked it. So we were really grateful to have him be a part of this season.

We also have a great British actor who comes in and helps out with Section 20 named Robson Green. He's a big British personality and has a show up there called Wire in the Blood. He's also a producer. He was a singer back in the day. He was really entertaining to have on the show. He really changed the dynamic of Section 20 and how the leadership of Section 20 deals with the people they have in the field. Not so much ordering them around, but requesting that they make off-the-cuff decisions while also preparing them for leadership once the current leadership either dies or leaves.

IGN: The Strike Back homepage on the Cinemax site shows you right next to a giant python. What can you tell us about the snake?

Winchester: Ah, yes. That was the first week of shooting. That was in KwaZulu-Natal. That wasn't a wild snake, it was snake they'd brought in. But we were in a real jungle and our director, Michael Bassett, was mad for wildlife so we always had animals around us. We had a panther this year too. Not to mention all the natural indigenous things we were finding out there like huge lizards and gnarly-looking spiders. We all got quite sick actually. We caught a nasty stomach bug because we were shooting in this river that fed into the ocean. And it was funny because they took down all the signs that read "Warning: Crocodiles. Don't Swim," but of course since the river fed into the ocean, the Bull Sharks could come up too. But nobody got eaten. [laughs] Nobody got bit. But that's just the name of the game when you're doing this show. Especially with Michael Bassett who likes to push the envelope.

IGN: So your reward for not getting eaten was getting an intestinal parasite.

Winchester: Yeah, with like Giardia or something like that. That was exactly what I was rewarded with. So Stonebridge is a little more streamlined at the beginning of the season because, man, I could not keep food in me. We were working these long hours and doing all these stunts and I had nothing in me. I really had to pull myself up by my bootstraps for the first three or four episodes.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptySat Aug 10, 2013 12:04 am


'Strike Back': Philip Winchester And Sullivan Stapleton On 'Surviving' Season 3
August 8th, 2013 2:45pm EDT | Brittany Frederick By: Brittany Frederick

At the center of Cinemax's action-adventure series Strike Back are a pair of talented actors: Philip Winchester (pictured above) and Sullivan Stapleton, who play elite soldiers Michael Stonebridge and Damian Scott. BFTV had the pleasure of catching up with Winchester (with a surprise appearance from Stapleton!) at San Diego Comic-Con in July to ask about the latest missions of Section 20.

"Best job ever," Philip told us. "Period and underlined and in italics. And this year especially with Michael Bassett, he got a hold of the show and he did stuff we've only ever dreamed of doing. He let us loose. He said, 'Look, you guys can do the stunts, you can do the action, so let's ratchet it up a few notches.' I think he made the show something that the audience wants to see, and we certainly wanted to shoot. And so yeah, best job ever indeed."

As if it's not obvious within five minutes of watching an episode, both actors agreed that Strike Back pushes them constantly. "Each year just gets bigger and better - faster, harder, more dangerous," said Sullivan (pictured below), who's also starring in the upcoming big-screen prequel 300: Rise of an Empire. He takes all the action in stride. "We read the scripts and just go 'What are they going to do to us?' They keep pushing us and we keep doing it, and it's fun. We don't get hurt that much."

Strike Back

"Mostly when I get the script, I look at the first page and the last page, and then I call Sully and go, 'We're not dead yet. So we still have a job.' And then we read through the script," quipped Philip. "We have stuff this year, it was just amazing. We were jumping out of the back of cars onto other cars, we were skyhooking - which means you're attached to the bottom of a helicopter dangling from a line [and] you get pulled out of a building - we were running along the roof of a train, getting blown off the top of a train. We were going home at night going, 'I can't believe we get to do this for a job.' It's fantastic."

Speaking of dying, Philip took a moment to address Strike Back's tremendous supporting character mortality rate. "Everyone around us dies. It's true," he admitted with a laugh, but revealed that the leading men aren't exempt from suffering either. "There's that fine line. We want it to be realistic," he added. "So we added a few hits this year. We took some shots and made the characters a little more just falliable, and more human."

In the case of Philip's character Stonebridge, that means there will be a considerable physical setback. "I had a challenging year this year," the actor confided. "Michael Bassett really wanted to take away Stonebridge's physical ability. For me as an actor, I find Stonebridge in what he can do. And so to not have the use of some of my body parts, it made it really challenging this year.

"That on top of, we had some real sicknesses go around the set. We started [filming] in South Africa, and we started in this really nasty river, and who knows what we got. So we were trying to shoot the show and deal with all this sickness that we had. It was brutal."

That's one of the aspects that makes Strike Back different: these two actors are doing the majority of their own stunt work, and when we say that phrase, we don't just mean typical TV stunt work. They are being asked to do above and beyond what you would normally see on television. They're challenged physically and mentally, in addition to giving strong acting performances. They really are giving it their all, and that comes through in the finished product. You likely couldn't find two harder working men in television.

"I think sometimes it's just about surviving. You survive Strike Back," said Philip. "You show up week one, [in] January, and you walk out the end of July just going, 'Oh, my gosh, I can't believe we just did that again.'"

This year, the dynamic duo at least gets a little more help: Milauna Jackson arrives as a DEA agent who links up with Stonebridge and Scott, and British TV staple Robson Green joins as their new boss. "Robson came in, he changed the whole vibe in the crib," explained Philip. "He just came in, he lightened it up. He treated us like human beings. It was so cool to have him on the show. Such a cool guy. He's amazing. He does it all."

The new actors are two great new additions to an already outstanding show. But with Strike Back continually pushing the envelope, surprising the audience and demanding so much of its cast and crew, will the show eventually hit its own glass ceiling? We asked Philip to weigh in.

"There physically came a point this year, in the last two episodes, where I was looking at Sully just going, 'I am toast. I am totally finished.' Like physically, emotionally, I'm just spent," he admitted. "But I think because we know the audience now, and we get a lot of feedback from the audience - we have a lot of military audience; we did the Wounded Warrior Project last night [and] we heard their feedback - it's like, 'Man, we've got to power through and make this thing just a little bit better each year.' If we have a next year I don't know how that's going to work out, but this year I certainly think we took it to a level that we've never gone to before."

"Strike Back is the biggest thing that I've done," he reflected. "it's the most fun that I've had on a show. And it's the most fulfilled I feel about a job."

Strike Back returns to Cinemax on Friday, August 9. Cinemax season two is also out on DVD and Blu-Ray now.

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptySat Aug 31, 2013 12:04 pm


Tonight Exclusive: Strike Back

August 29 2013 at 12:26pm
By Debashine Thangevelo

South Africa has become the go-to destination for TV and movie shoots. Aside from the British series, Wild at Heart, and the Canadian mini-series, Human Cargo, being shot here, we have Michael Bay’s Black Sails being filmed as well as Sea-Air-Fire Three and, confirmed this week, Dominion. A few months back most of season three of M-Net’s British military drama, Strike Back, was shot here. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with actors Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton get the lowdown on what’s coming up in the action-packed series…


THIS 32-year-old actor has bagged a few notable projects like The Patriot, The Telephone, Crusoe, a TV series called Alice, the mini-series Warehouse 13 and Fringe.

But somehow he has managed to remain below the stardom radar – until now.

He joined the Strike Back series, which is based on Chris Ryan’s novel of the same name, after the exit of series protagonist Richard Armitage (John Porter), who left because of other commitments.

Cast as Sergeant Michael Stonebridge, a tough but troubled Special Forces counterterrorism operative, Winchester underwent military training and had to bulk up for the physically demanding role.

Reflecting on the show’s popularity, he says: “One of the reasons I enjoy the show and we get the response we get is because it’s kind of like an Eighties show – when actors were doing the stunts and it wasn’t CGI (computer-generated imagery).

“And I think the fact that we started filming in South Africa, there were fewer restrictions on what we could and couldn’t do. And so we started very early on doing all the stunts for real and very quickly.”

To lend authenticity to his character, Winchester drew on his father, a friend who was in The Parachute Regiment and the military trainer they had while shooting here.

As for how his character has grown, the actor reflects: “I think what makes characters interesting for an audience is their flaws.

“For me, what made Stonebridge interesting was that when I read the scripts for the first season there was this portrayal of him as the perfect soldier, having a wonderful marriage and wanting children. By page 60, he was waking up with another woman and I was like, ‘wow, I didn’t see that coming’. So right away you see Stonebridge is broken. Something is flawed in his life and he was covering it up. So he became really interesting to play.”

One of the great things about working on this show is that, as an actor, he is allowed input on the storylines.

He admits, “We sometimes have influence on where the characters go, how they get there, all that kind of stuff, and if something doesn’t work on set, we fix it.”

As for one of his most taxing moment on set, he reveals: “This season was particularly challenging because when we were doing some scenes at a river (in South Africa), I got really sick. I caught some kind of stomach bug that lasts four months and four or five episodes. And that meant I couldn’t put on the weight I normally do. And it was bizarre because something happens in episode three or four that causes Stonebridge’s health to deteriorate.”

“I’m not a method actor, but I do kind of like to go there, so maybe my subconscious was going there,” he laughs.


WITH a slew of big screen (Gangster Squad, The Hunter, Darkness Falls) and TV parts (Sea Patrol, McLeod’s Daughters), this 36-year-old is in his element in most acting roles.

Signed up to play the lead in Warner Bros’s 300: Rise of an Empire, expected to release in March, Stapleton relishes his role as Sergeant Damien Scott.

Strike Back 3, which was also shot in Budapest, centres on Section 20 being brought in to South Africa to regain possession of four nuclear triggers which have fallen into the hands of English billionaire megalomaniac Conrad Knox (Charles Dance). His goal is to liberate “Africa”.

On how his character has transformed over the series, Stapleton says: “Scott was kind of the angry one at the start, but as the series progressed things have changed and Stonebridge goes through some stuff and it’s kind of a swop over. It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to play the changes in these guys. The dynamic between those two characters is very true to life. Mates are mates and sometimes you can p**s one off and vice versa. But they look after each other and help each other get through these missions.”

Interestingly, the two characters have also become the cornerstone of the show.

He explains: “I think there are different aspects to the two soldiers who work well together. Stonebridge is very by the book – even when he starts to lose it, he’s still a proper soldier. Scott is different, he’s a little more unconventional, and that comes across in the way we do things. We’re both stronger at different things in real life and I guess that’s reflected in our characters.”

With this season very stunt-driven, he sheds light on a notable scene.

“There are some terrorists on a train in Germany and we have to track them down. We get picked up in a chopper – that’s a great stunt – and we jump off on to the train. Then we have a fight on the train, I get thrown off. Meanwhile, Stonebridge is fighting another guy. A motorbike rides down the track in front of the train and we steal a truck and drive that in front of the train. It took four days to film that sequence and we had two units with action going on inside the carriage, too. We were running in between the two units. It was kind of crazy, but great fun, too.”

Having broken his knee in season two, Stapleton admits he was more cautious this time around. But not to the extent that it kept him from doing his own stunts.

He says: “I don’t want to be the guy who sits and watches the stunt team do all of his stunts for him.”

The actor says his favourite this season was the one episode shot in a Russian prison and the train scene.

“We had Peter Guinness in the show, who is a great actor, and the director let us actually talk at a human speed and didn’t worry about how long these scenes were taking. It was nice to just sit and talk and we had a great moment between Scott and Stonebridge where Scott is telling him he could die unless he got the right medicine. And Peter plays this guy who’s been in jail so long he is scared about going home. It was kind of nice to be able to humanise Scott a little bit more. I fought back tears as we showed that these guys do have hearts and they are not unrealistic tough-guy characters.”

As someone with a foot in both camps, he says Strike Back is like a collection of little movies – he is “looking forward to more acting within the action”.

By the way, season four is already on the cards. And if you enjoy those cliff-hanger moments in the action genre, Strike Back delivers on that front while unearthing truly poignant moments when the “tough guys” reveal their personal vulnerabilities.

• Strike Back airs on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) tomorrow at 9.30pm.
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyMon Sep 23, 2013 7:36 pm


Cinemax's 'Strike Back' will get even more intense, says star Philip Winchester
Series with Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton as globetrotting commandos starts third season Friday at 10 p.m.

Published: Friday, August 9, 2013, 2:00 AM
Updated: Friday, August 9, 2013, 2:00 AM

Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton star in "Strike Back" on Cinemax.

Cinemax’s mucho-macho military series, “Strike Back,” is returning with a bigger bang than ever.

“The stunts are bigger, the stakes are higher and the writing's smarter,” says Philip Winchester. He plays Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, one-half of the show’s band of bros who light up a room almost anywhere they go — usually with AK-47s and RPGs.

Season three starts Friday at 10 p.m.

Stonebridge is a former British special-ops stud haunted by his actions. He is paired with Sullivan Stapleton’s disgraced Delta Force dude, Sgt. Damien Scott, in an odd couple that has so far taken down terrorists from Cape Town to Budapest.

“They couldn't be more different,” says Scott. “My guy’s got loose morals but a tight sense of honor and loyalty. Stonebridge follows the rules. Together, they get things done.” Usually with a bigger body count than the bubonic plague.

They’re both bossed around by a butt-kicking woman (“Boston Legal’s” Rhona Mitra) in a secret British unit made for bad boys with good intentions.

“These guys are damaged by their experiences, but they’re not done,” says Scott. Last season they saved Africa from stolen nuclear triggers; this time they'll hunt bad guys from Bogota to Beirut for the shadowy Section 20, based on an anti-IRA unit launched in the ’80s.

The stars have been boot-camped in commando skills by U.K. special-forces vets. “The details are important,” says Winchester.” We honor their training and give it the reality it deserves. I’m no soldier, but I’m trained to be one, and that’s close enough for me.”
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PostSubject: Re: Strike Back Interviews   Strike Back Interviews EmptyMon Sep 23, 2013 7:37 pm


Philip Winchester talks sex and death on the season 3 premiere of 'Strike Back'

Cinemax/David Bloomer
Paulette CohnLA TV Examiner

August 9, 2013

It's a new season and a new location when "Strike Back," one of TV's most entertaining action series, heads from Colombia to Lebanon to Eastern Europe, uncovering deadly terrorist plots that threaten the West. If you think Michael Weston has blown up half of Miami on "Burn Notice," you haven't seen anything until you see "Strike Back."

"What we have on 'Strike Back' is us doing as much of the stunts and as much of the crazy stuff as possible, while also having this camaraderie and this banter between us -- this good cop/bad cop thing -- and it was a total accident," Philip Winchester, who plays counterterrorism operative Sgt. Michael Stonebridge for the UK's deep-cover unit Section 20, told Examiner.com in an exclusive interview at Comic-Con. "The first season was literally, 'Let's survive. Let's hope people watch it.'"

On tonight's episode, Sgt. Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton ) and Stonebridge are recalled from their first vacation in years after a fellow Section 20 member dies while pursuing the elusive terrorist al-Zuhari in Beirut. They wind up in the remote jungles of Colombia in pursuit of a known associate of al-Zuhari's and deep in territory controlled by a powerful drug cartel.

In Season 3, Rhona Mitra as Maj. Rachel Dalton and Michelle Lukes as Sgt. Julia Richmond are also back for more derring-do, and they will be joined by Robson Green as Col. Philip Locke, Dougray Scott as rogue operative James Leatherby, Milauna Jackson as DEA Specail Agent Kim Martinez, and Zubin Varla as mysterious person of interest Leo Kamali.

In our interview, Winchester also talked about "Strike Back"'s steamy sex scenes -- and how most of them are left to Stapleton, the outrageous stunts, and how tough it is to be a woman on this show!

I like the bromance in the premiere episode, where they're on vacation together. It is the first time, we have seen something like that in the series, so it is nice to know that their friendship extends past having each other's back for work. And, of course, Scott finds a beautiful woman to have sex with. Not something your character does so much.

I'm married in real life, so I appreciate that that's not written in there because I'm not a huge fan of doing that stuff.

So that's not in your contract?

It's not in my contract. Actually, I have a naked fight with a man on fire this year, so that was an interesting scene to shoot, covered in fire gel. Everywhere covered in fire gel.

Especially some places more than others?

(Laughs) Yeah, a lot of fire gel on some places. So, yeah, it's not in [my contract]. I just lucked out. I actually had a chat with Andy Harries, who's our big producer over at Left Bank in London. We talked one night in the first season -- actually I was just finishing doing a love scene -- and he said, "You know, I don't want to have Scott and Stonebridge doing the same stuff. We don't need Stonebridge to be having affairs, or shoot him doing love scenes because we have it with Scott's character." I just said, "Andy, I totally agree 100 percent. Let's keep it that way." And the formula has kind of stuck. So, we haven't really had a lot of that stuff for Stonebridge, especially with him losing his wife and having to deal with that.

The sex is such an important part of the show, because it's such a contrast to the killing. It's still rough sex. But it shows a human side.

It does. I mean these guys are, they're soldiers and they have to have a release, however they do that. I think with Stonebridge and with Scott, they deal with things in a certain way. Stonebridge throws himself into his work and Scott goes out and drinks and has women. I think should the show continue, I think they want to explore a bit of that stuff with Stonebridge, to have him go a bit, not a bit like Scott, but to have him have an outlet that he's never had in his life before because of the marriage and because of his affair with Kate in the first season.

Other than the fire-gel fight scene, do you have a favorite moment from Season 3?

We had literally more stunts this year that I'm proud of than probably all the other seasons combined. We did things on a helicopter this year that I didn't think were possible: Hanging from the bottom of a helicopter and jumping off of a helicopter onto the roof of a train. We had a stunt this year, where I jump out of the back of a moving van onto a moving car that's behind us. We were only going about 40 km an hour, but if you mess up, someone's going to run over you, so I was proud of that because that was a pretty full-on stunt and we were clipping right along. I'm holding onto the roof of the car and it's smashing into cars on the side of the road and the glass is coming off of the wing mirrors and stuff like that, so that was a good experience. I enjoyed that.

Have there been any injuries on the set?

The magnitude of the stunts are such that if something goes wrong, you die. I think, in the case with the helicopter and the sky hook, or jumping onto the roof of a train, things like that, we've had rolled ankles, bumps, bruises and scrapes, but the bigger stunts, if something went wrong, I don't think you'd get up and walk away from them, so we've been very fortunate.

So, you have a new woman on the show this year.

We do, Milauna Jackson.

But it doesn't seem to really be a good thing to be a woman on your show because they seem to be the ones who die.

That's so funny you mention that. It's true, with the "Strike Back" curse, especially if Stonebridge kisses them, then that's it. Milauna came in and bless her, she tucked right in. We did some of the hardest stuff we've done in the three years in the first day of filming.

We were in a place called KwaZulu-Natal, which is on the wild coast of South Africa, and we were in 100 plus degree weather with 100 percent humidity, bugs, snakes, a river was infected with all sorts of stuff, which we were swimming in, so we all got stomach bugs and we all got sick. So, all this stuff together and she just tucked in.

She just jumped in the deep end with us and she looked at us and she goes, "Guys, is this normal for 'Strike Back?'" Sully and I were trying to play it cool. We were like, "Yeah, yeah, it's totally normal" bearing in mind that we were absolutely wasted. She's going, "This is what you do every day?" and we're like, "What? Yeah, pretty much every day." As the year went on, she got tougher, and tougher and tougher, and tougher, and tougher, until it got to the end of the season, where she's jumping on the trains with us.

So, you have to train to be in tip-top shape for this. Do you stay in shape when you're not filming this?

I do. Not as much as Stonebridge is just because it is so hard. I was having a talk with a doctor the other day. I'm just, "It takes a long time to recover from 'Strike Back.'" I was having a talk about endocrinology and about the cortisone dumps that happen in our brains. For character research, I was seeing a psychologist who deals with PTSD, and she was talking about the show and saying, "You know what, Philip? You guys are building chemical pathways in your brains that are real. You guys know that you're actors, but the chemicals that you're releasing and the things that you're experiencing are building pathways in your brains that soldiers have." And I said, "Well, we're not soldiers." I could never be a soldier.

We chatted with some guys at the Wounded Warrior Project and these guys are real heroes. We're actors, by every stretch of the word, we're actors. But she was saying, "No, but you guys are living it in your brain and the chemicals you're experiencing; you're living it like that." So, when I come off the show, I take a bit of a chill pill and my wife and I have a place in Montana, where I pick up dog shit and mow the grass. I do stuff like that because you've got to do something that's totally normal.

But I do, I go to the gym and I run, but I do it because I enjoy it, but with Stonebridge and with the show, it's just brutal. You're getting up before work and going to the gym and it sucks, but it's just part of the show

So, will there be a Season 4, then?

If we survive Season 3.

The only two people who have to survive are you and Sullivan.

I appreciate that. I know for a fact, though, that we need strong women in the show. That first season when we had Colonel Grant, played by Amanda Mealing, she was this matriarchal figure in Section 20, and I know that it brought in this audience, and now we have a big women following. It's kind of funny because it's an incredibly violent, testosterone- driven show, but it's got the sex and it's got the light stuff, and a lot of the fans that come out for the show are women.

"Strike Back" premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on Cinemax.
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