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.
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