The high-intensity action series Strike Back returns to Cinemax for a 10-episode fifth season, which follows a new Section 20 team on a new mission. When fanatical terrorist Omair Idrisi (Don Hany) escapes from Syrian authorities with plans to launch an unprecedented attack that could change the face of modern warfare, the manhunt is placed into the hands of Captain Natalie Reynolds (Roxanne McKee), Sergeant Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson), Sergeant Thomas “Mac” McAllister (Warren Brown) and Lance Corporal Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata), who must uncover and attempt to dismantle a vast global web of criminal and terrorist activity, all while getting to know each other.
Collider recently got the opportunity to sit down with co-stars Daniel MacPherson and Warren Brown to chat about how they came to this new season of Strike Back, the intense training they had to go through for their roles, being nervous about living up to what fans of the series have come to expect, what they like about this team dynamic, that this new team will come to appreciate each other, and what it’s like to do such high-intensity stunt work.
Collider: How did you guys come to Strike Back and were you nervous about stepping into this show?
WARREN BROWN: Yeah. I was a huge fan of the show, previously, and then, to find out that it was coming back was cool. I got the opportunity to audition for it, and then we all went to London for a couple of days and made it down the line. We got to the chemistry test, where they put 20 or 30 actors in a couple of rooms for a couple of days, to whittle it down to four. Being a fan of the show, and seeing how good it was and the level that Phil [Winchester] and Sully [Stapleton] had gotten to after four years in the show, there was a pressure there, certainly, to try to carry on that baton. Also, you can’t put too much pressure on it to emulate that because this is a new dynamic and new team. We have the opportunity to create our own characters, which are very different, but in that same world.
DANIEL MacPHERSON: There’s no doubt that it was a huge responsibility because the legacy of the show, previously, was so big. The fans are very loyal, and there’s a big military and veteran community that are very passionate about the show. They were amazing in their generosity of information and training. We reached out to people who are now civilians, who just wanted to help us because they like the show. So, we knew there were big shoes to fill. The standard of the show was left on a really high note, and we had to start at that same level. We made sure that the entire cast – all four of us – worked our asses off to get to day one in good shape. I’ve never been so exhausted, starting a job, in my life.
It seems like wanting to be a part of something like this and actually doing it are two very different things.
MacPHERSON: Yeah, and that’s what the audition process was about. It was not only about finding a cast that was good enough to lead a series, but who also had the physical and mental discipline and aptitude to take on this type of role because, like a special operations team or like a SEAL Team, you can’t have a weak link. It’s no coincidence that Warren comes from a fighting background and is a two-time world champion. My background is in endurance sports and the Ironman triathlon. Alin [Sumarwata] is a bad-ass kickboxer.
BROWN: We’re really able to draw on that background. Most roles don’t require this amount of physicality, but to be able to draw on it our histories and our past, and bring the two things together that I’m super passionate about and throw that all in the pot, is certainly a benefit for us.
Warren, at the times that you were really in it with this show and because of how brutal it gets, at times, were you ever longing for the days of Luther and Idris Elba in his long coat?
BROWN: I mean, it was pretty cold for me on Luther. That was a fantastic job for me, and it certainly helped with the next step of my career. People associate me with that, so that opened doors, further down the line. It was a great job for me, and I’m good pals with Idris. We’re in this for the long haul. Despite the brutality, and just how relentless it was, and how tough it was, I don’t think there was a minute where we weren’t in it. You go where the work is, but you also try to do things different and stretch and push yourself. I knew [Strike Back] was going to be a physically and mentally demanding role, and I would have to push myself like I haven’t done before. It was very, very different, and that’s the beauty of this business that we’re fortunate enough to work in. You get to do such a wide array of things that are so far removed from something you’ve done previously.