[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.
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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