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‘Strike Back' star Sullivan Stapleton discusses Cinemax series and ‘Gangster Squad' movie

Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton discusses starring in Cinemax action drama “Strike Back” and joining the cast of the upcoming movie “Gangster Squad.”
BY MELISSA HAYER mhayer@opubco.com Published: September 5, 2011
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Sullivan Stapleton made his presence known to American movie fans in the Academy Award-nominated 2010 Australian feature “Animal Kingdom.”

Stapleton played a drug dealer in a dysfunctional family made up of criminals and received an Australian Film Institute nomination for his performance.

Now, he's stealing the spotlight in Cinemax's first original prime-time scripted drama, “Strike Back,” an action-oriented show adapted from the 2010 British series of the same name, which airs at 9 p.m. Fridays on the network.

The Australian actor plays former U.S. Special Forces operative Damien Scott, who along with British Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), are members of a British top-secret counterterrorism intelligence agency known as Section 20.

Although Stapleton, 34, had not yet officially signed on the dotted line at the time of this phone interview, he also is scheduled to join the stellar cast of the upcoming feature film “Gangster Squad,” which includes Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone. The movie will be directed by Ruben Fleischer.

Stapleton discussed “Strike Back” and “Gangster Squad” in the following Q&A session:

Q: What stood out to you about “Strike Back” that made you want to be a part of it?

A: It was a great script from the outset. It was an enjoyable read. And then it sounded like a lot of fun. I'm traveling the world and playing soldiers.

Q: How would you sum up Damien Scott?

A: Well, Damien Scott's an ex-Delta Force soldier and dishonorably discharged through no fault of his own. And Section 20 comes to find him and, you know, Stonebridge finds Scott cage fighting in Kuala Lumpur for cash.

They ask Scott to help them in their search for terrorist Latif. And you quickly find out that Scott does things a very different way to Stonebridge, who is quite the serious soldier.

Scott does things very differently. He's a bit of a naughty boy, mischievous. But, you know, he's very good at his job, but he tends to have more fun doing it, I think, than Stonebridge.

Q: What similarities, if there are any, do you share with Scott — or how are you most different?

A: Definitely have the same sense of — I try to have as much fun as possible.

And the major difference would be that when I get shot, they call cut, and, you know, it doesn't kill me. It doesn't hurt.

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