Strike Back Season 3
Fridays, beginning Aug. 9
How often do your vacations get interrupted by a government helicopter that unexpectedly lands in the middle of a highway to whisk you away to one of the world’s most dangerous places? Probably not often, but would you expect anything less from the opening moments of Strike Back Season 3?
It’s just another day in the life of Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), the stars of Cinemax’s brazen series, which offers an irresistible mix of top-quality action sequences with Skinemax-friendly T&A. Strike Back has won a devoted legion of fans, many of whom were probably initially surprised at just how well the show is put together. Good actors, close attention to technical and military details, and a riveting sense that anyone could die at any minute have elevated the 24-on-steroids extravaganza above the status of a shameless indulgence.
Winchester says he’s felt the love not only from huge fan gatherings, like at Comic-Con in San Diego the past two years, but also from viewers who are in the military and enjoy the show’s topicality, as well as respected colleagues in the entertainment industry.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to walk around the HBO parties after the Emmys and things like that, and I’ve had actors I’ve admired for years come up and say, ‘Hey man, I really dig your show,’” he says. “And it’s not just a guilty pleasure. It’s kind of cool.”
This season opens with yet another shocking death, one that causes the higher-ups at the covert British spy unit Section 20 to cut short Stonebridge and Scott’s American holiday and promptly plant them in the middle of the Colombian jungle. The globetrotting action this season also leads the boys to other far-flung locations such as Beirut, Moscow and all over Europe.
New faces include Dougray Scott, Milauna Jackson and Robson Green, along with returning favorite Rhona Mitra.
The dizzying stunts are a signature part of the show, and Stapleton — who could be poised for a breakout with his upcoming lead role in 300: Rise of an Empire — recalls his favorite escapade of the new season.
“The stunts have definitely got a lot bigger, which just means more fun for us,” he says. “My favorite sequence this year was the train sequence in the final episodes. We get dropped onto a moving train, have a hand-to-hand fight sequence and then there’s motorbikes, trucks, dog attacks and of course massive explosions in true Strike Back style. The stunt scenes are some of the best days on set.”
All of these high-adrenaline circumstances have led to a closer bond between the characters — they’re vacationing together, for goodness sake — and for the actors who play them, Winchester says.
“You hear about people in high-adrenaline circumstances really bonding with each other, and I think certainly for Sully and I, a lot of our relationship came out of the fact that we’re sort of cheating death some of the time on set and in the training that we did before we started the show,” he says. “We also share these really cool experiences that, you know, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of doing if I was working on a farm. We’re jumping out of helicopters, jumping onto the roofs and moving trains, and getting pulled out of buildings just attached to the bottom of a helicopter … things like that.”
Photo: Credit: David Bloomer/Cinemax