With this being the final season of the NBC series Blindspot, the stakes are higher than ever, as Jane (Jaimie Alexander) and the surviving members of the former FBI taskforce remain on the run, without their usual gadgets and tech, and unable to turn to their list of allies for fear of putting them at risk. When Jane is shot and Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) is kidnapped and forced to fight some dark ghosts from his own past, the team must fight to save both of their lives.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Aussie actor Sullivan Stapleton talked about learning that Season 5 would be the last season of Blindspot, being grateful that they got to end the show the way they wanted to, the shock of having to say goodbye to one of the cast members at the start of the season, getting to really break down and explore Weller’s history with Episode 505 (entitled “Head Games”), getting to bark and cry on the same show, and what he’s thinking of doing next.
Collider: When and how did you learn that this season would be the final season of the show, and how did you feel about the show ending?
SULLIVAN STAPLETON: We didn’t know whether it was gonna get renewed again. It was that funny thing where you do the season, and then you’re sitting around for a few months, just waiting to know whether you get to go back to work or not. This time, we heard that we got renewed for Season 5 and that it would be this half-season, it was great to hear that we’d get to actually finish, the way that we should. We were pre-warned that it was the last season, and that gave the writers a good chance to wrap things up, on the note that they wanted to, and not because the show had been canceled. I was really quite grateful. It was a nice way to end.
What was your reaction to learning that this final season would see the team pursued as the criminals, and have them stripped of everything that they’re used to and fighting to clear their names? Did that feel like a fitting final mission, for a show like this?
STAPLETON: Yeah, I think so. The threat is real, that they can be taken apart and taken down. And you have to wonder if we’re gonna lose, or if we’ll lose anyone. We’re no longer these tough agents that can’t be taken down. Obviously, we lost Reade, and who knows, if we’re gonna lose any more?
This is a show where characters have come and gone, over the seasons, but the team itself has largely remained intact. What was it like to have to say goodbye to Rob Brown, at the beginning of this season, and then to not have him there, on this last mission?
STAPLETON: That shocked me, reading it. I was in Australia, at the time, and heard that we were renewed, and then that we were losing Rob, was a huge shock to me. Reading it, there were loud expletives coming from my mouth. That was a huge shock. I wasn’t told that, so I learned that from reading the scripts. That was a big shock. That’s the great part of the show. We can be taken down. We are just humans. We don’t have superpowers. And if they’re not getting taken down, they’re getting shot at and tortured. We are vulnerable.
It’s one thing to have a final season that you know is your final season, but you also get to have this retrospective episode, “Head Games,” for your character. What was it like to get to explore your character, in that way?
STAPLETON: That was fun for me. It was a heavy episode to film. Going through that roller coaster was tough, but as an actor, it was great to really sink my teeth into this story arc that obviously has a huge effect on Weller. And I got to work with a great director, Pamela Romanowsky, and a great writer, Brendan Gall. Those two, on set, were really supportive. It made it fun to come to work, sit in a chair, and cry or hallucinate or scream or yell. That’s a really funny way to go to work. I love my job, but it’s so funny to get up and go to work, and spend your days just breaking yourself down and putting yourself through such a range of emotions. It was a challenge, but it was one of those moments that an actor thrives in.
The episode before this one, “And My Axe!,” was a fun because of the scene where you were barking at the team, which was one of the funniest scenes that the show has ever done. And then, you follow that up with being zip-tied to a chair and crying, which just shows the range of things that this show can get away with.
STAPLETON: Yes. There are actors like me, who can bark like a dog and cry. That’s the joy of this show. We can go on such a great ride with a team that takes us to all sorts of places, like barking like a dog. Those are the days that you go, “This is awesome!” It’s such a great opportunity for an actor to be put into.
What does Weller think of Ivy (Julee Cerda), at this point?
STAPLETON: Her team are really smart terrorists, and that puts Weller into a bit of a scare, over how vulnerable he is. There’s the potential of being taken away from his wife and kid.
Since it’s impossible to make everyone happy with the ending of a TV series, especially after five seasons, do you feel like fans will be satisfied with where things are left, in the series finale?
STAPLETON: Wow. I don’t know. To me, it’s such a great series and we’ve gone in all sorts of directions, thanks to our writing team. To wrap this up the way they do is great. With Jane losing her memory again, and us coming up against another team, whether it’s Sandstorm or another group that wants to take it down, you eventually can go down. Who knows who survives? We’ll see.
You went from a show that was more physical than anything that’s ever been on TV, with Strike Back, to this show, which wasn’t as physical, but still kept you going quite a lot. Will that inform what you do next? Are you thinking about something where you can just sit behind a desk, or on a beach?
STAPLETON: I’m with you. I wanna sit behind a desk, or do a rom-com. I love the action. I love this stuff. And then, there are some days, when you get thrown a story arc where you have to hallucinate and cry and get angry. Acting is acting. It was fun to explore a different side of my craft, with these episodes, and with doing this show. There were days that I’d get to do stunts, and there’d be explosions or I’d be fighting five guys at once. What’s next? I don’t know. The way things are going with COVID, I’d just like to work, doing whatever. I’d be happy doing anything, even if it’s behind the camera. I’m just waiting to see what the next stage is, the next chapter.
You can always do animation, where your character can do all the action for you and you don’t have to do it.
STAPLETON: Now, you’re talking. That’s good. I’m gonna write that down, and then go ring my agent. That would be great.
Blindspot airs on Thursday nights on NBC.