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. [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.”