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'Strike Back' debrief: How to crack someone's ribs

By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol

RedEye

1:38 AM CDT, September 29, 2012

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Spoiler alert: If you haven't watched Episode 18 of "Strike Back," spoilers ahead.

The actors in the military drama "Strike Back" may just be pretending to fight, fire weapons and kill enemies in various ways, but that doesn't mean they don't get hurt.

Take, for instance, Shane Taylor, who plays one of this season's bad guys, former soldier-turned-killer Craig Hanson. In the Sept. 28 episode, Hanson has a run-in with Damien Scott, played by series star Sullivan Stapleton. And, well, somebody got hurt. I'll let director Michael Bassett explain:

"There is a fight sequence ... which is so brutal Sully broke the actor's ribs," Bassett told me at San Diego Comic Con. "[It was] entirely by accident. There were all the fight coordinators around, so it's safe, it's safe, it's safe, but when you're really going for it as intensely as you can that's what happens."

According to Stapleton, Taylor's ribs may have been cracked before their fight scene, which you can see in the exclusive video above. "I didn't break his ribs," Stapleton says in the video, laughing. "He says I broke his ribs; I didn't break his ribs."

Stapleton claims Taylor mentioned he was feeling some rib pain before their fight, but he hadn't consulted with a doctor about it. He adds, "I was as gentle as I could be."

I you believe what Bassett says about Stapleton, you might doubt the actor. The director told me that all the cast members and guest stars go 100 percent when filming action sequences in an effort to make them as believable as possible. The actors do about 95 percent of the stunt work, according Philip Winchester, who plays Scott's partner Stonebridge. But when Stapleton fights, Bassett said, it's almost for real.

"When Sully fights he gives no quarter whatsoever. He fights like he means it and you can see it in his eyes," Bassett said. "For the actor he's fighting, that's tricky, but for me as a director it's absolutely wonderful. ... For me, I love it."

Taylor's character, Craig Hanson, apparently can handle as much pain as the actor. He's been shot, his face has been burned by steam and he's survived a car wreck. But with only two episodes left in the season, I have to think he's going to finally pay for murdering Stonebridge's wife. Winchester didn't take the bait when I fished for an answer during an earlier interview. But he did praise Taylor.

"Shane Taylor came in and he just smashed Hanson so hard," Winchester said. "He did such an amazing job at making him human. He made him likable and he made him a character that you just love to hate as well, but he just did such a good job of humanizing this sort of animal."

You'll have to watch the final two episodes to see what happens to Hanson, and how Taylor rebounded after those alleged cracked ribs. Cinemax debuts new episodes of "Strike Back" at 9 p.m. CT Fridays.

By the way: Shane Taylor, if Sully really did crack your ribs, he says he's sorry. (Call me, we'll clear this up.)

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