“Strike Back” stars Philip Winchester and Amanda Mealing discuss the show’s first season finale
(SPOILER ALERT FOR “STRIKE BACK FANS”: THIS STORY SHOULDN’T BE READ UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE FIRST SEASON FINALE!)
The Cinemax series “Strike Back” ended its first season with quite a dramatic finale tonight.
This first installment of the show has revolved around stars Sullivan Stapleton as former U.S. Special Forces operative Damien Scott and Philip Winchester as British Sgt. Michael Stonebridge.
Scott and Stonebridge are members of a British top-secret counterterrorism intelligence agency named Section 20, led by Col. Eleanor Grant, played by Amanda Mealing.
Section 20 succeeded in its season-long mission to track down the terrorist Latif (Jimi Mistry), but it was a costly achievement – Col. Grant lost her life taking him down.
Winchester, 30, and British actress Mealing, 44, discussed their roles on the show, which has already been picked up for a second season, as well as the finale, this week in separate one-on-one phone interviews.
Here are a few of the questions and answers that were covered:
Q: When did you know that the demise of Col. Grant was going to happen in the finale?
MEALING: It was a couple of months towards the end. We were filming in South Africa for four months, so just towards the end of filming in South Africa – they came to me and said “we found the ending and you’re not going to like it”.
It was hard. It was incredibly hard because we’d just had the most amazing time together, and obviously having worked together for six months, everyone away from home – we really bonded and we really became like family.
So the idea that I wouldn’t be with them for another series was quite tough, but it’s absolutely perfect for the story. It’s (an) absolutely perfect ending I suppose for the series.
So, you know, there’s good and bad in there. I’ll be sad to not see everyone again, but it has been just the most incredible journey.
WINCHESTER: We found out about Amanda’s fate when we were in South Africa. Some of the producers from London came out and had a meal, and it floated around set and I actually had to sit down with Amanda and find out if it was true, because we’ve done so much training together and she’d done so much background work on her character about the relationship between Stonebridge and Col. Grant. It was quite a surprise.
It also reminded Sully and I that, you know, we’re not safe, we might be the main characters for now, but anybody at any moment can cup one, can cup a bullet in this show, and it just kind of reminded us how true that is in “Strike Back,” so we kind of take each episode, we read each episode, look at the front page and the last page, and if our names are there, we breathe a sigh of relief. I go “OK, cool, we’re in another episode,” because we really like this job and it’s really good to know that we’re going to be in it for another couple episodes.
Q: How intense was the filming of the finale?
MEALING: It was very intense. And being my last scenes, I would say in some way there wasn’t much acting required. I think I had to hold back the tears because the scenes themselves are very emotional.
And it was lovely to have that opportunity, whereas for nine episodes Col. Grant had been very, very cool, very calm, very professional, very contained. To have an opportunity to show the emotions and the turmoil underneath was a great opportunity, but it was painful to do because I’m the type of actress that I coop those emotions.
I get upset to play those things. I can’t just pretend to put the tears on.
So it was quite emotional scenes for me to do and, like I said, they were my last scenes. So, you know, there were lots of emotions going at the time.
Q: What did you enjoy and what did you find the most challenging about your role?
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