Booze, Babies and a Break from the Bombs – A Mid-Season Catch-Up with Philip Winchester

Originally published on February 6, 2019

Booze, Babies and a Break from the Bombs – A Mid-Season Catch-Up with Philip Winchester

As promised, Philip Winchester recently checked in for a mid-season update on playing Peter Stone,  Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, exciting “real life” changes and even a little bit of “Strike Back-y” talk.

As with our Fall “interview,” it’s presented in essentially unedited transcript form. Previous outside interactions between myself and Philip are referenced during this discussion and where permissible I’ve provided context. The most relevant of these is referenced in discussing the episode Mea Culpa. It is marked with an asterisk * and a summary of it follows this piece.

For context, I have been a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate for 23 years. Although I’ve never stopped providing direct victim/survivor advocacy, the major focus of my work has been in training law enforcement on how to work with victims and with prosecutors to prepare victim witnesses, the real world of sex crimes law and order. The episode Mea Culpa hit home in its specificity, focus on the importance of evidence and thorough investigations and the commitment of Stone to uncover the truth.  It has led to ongoing discussion within my circle of colleagues.

Inevitably the discussion always goes back to Strike Back! I really did just intend to let Philip know that everyone has had such nice things to say about him, but it’s pretty hard to stop talking Strike Back once you start!

As always, my profound gratitude to Philip Winchester for his generosity of time and openness.

So, grab a cuppa and prepare for a deep dive into Peter Stone!

______________________________________________________________________

January 23, 2019:

Phil: Hey, how are you?

Deb: I’m well, how about you?

Phil: I’m good. We’re not dealing with as much snow as you guys but…

Deb: Oh, my God, yeah, we got 21 inches I think and then ice too so, good times!

Phil: You guys got pounded. What have you been up to? How was your holidays?

Deb: They were great. They were really, really nice, not as busy as usual, and pretty relaxing, so it was nice. The weather was good, we were able to get out and go hiking. How about you?

Phil: Ours were a little crazy we had some family in from the UK, and my… God bless her my 90 year old grandmother traveled over from the UK, she’s amazing. You know, it’s just that generation of “don’t stop, just head down, get the work done.” And she just wanted to come to Montana again. So one of my cousins flew with her and they flew down to Dallas, and then changed airplanes and came up to Montana. She hung out for a couple of weeks and it was great, great to see her in Montana again. We didn’t think we’d see her in Montana again, so that was a treat for the family.

What’s amazing about her too, she’s 90 but she just gets along great, you know, she puts her head down and does the work. She’s out in the garden all the time, she’s just brilliant.  No signs of slowing down, that’s the way it is with her. She’s definitely an inspiration.

Deb: Hey my grandmother lived to 98, so you’ve  still got a lot of good years.

Phil: Oh, that’s, awesome. That’s great, there you go, you know what you have to look forward to then.

Deb: Yep, exactly…

Deb:  So let’s talk Stone.

Phil: Let’s do it! I think that sounds great.

Deb: So… what are your feelings about Stone in general right now?  I know I definitely have some.

Obviously, initially, there was the getting used to the fact that we were going to start this guy off somewhere different which was great but, it was a different place to start. Something else to add to the thoughts in your head when you’re playing a character. Add in his struggle with alcohol, and relationships etc and that was fun. Then this script came up for Mea Culpa, Mariska’s episode. I read it and, well you know we had some notes, obviously.

I went back with my notes and sat down with Mariska and with the writers, with Julie (Martin executive producer), Mike Chernuchin (executive producer/showrunner) and Alex (Chapple) our director.  We kind of went after it, one scene at a time, one line at a time. And, like you and I discussed, talked about the social media aspect of all of this and the reality of it.

My argument was that we have to be honest to the character. I can only come at that from an honest place in me. If something like that happened, this is how I think I would react if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was innocent.

So we started going through that and looking at it. And everyone was amazing, you know? The writers were amazing; Mariska was amazing. We just slowly started to boil the stuff down to where it really made sense.  I think it was more powerful because it was coming out of an honest place.  Then we shot the episode and it did really well.

Mariska is, just a total side note, she’s an amazing director. She has definitely picked up a thing or two in her years on the show! She just listened. During the scenes, we’d be going in one specific direction and she’d stop us saying “All right stop, this isn’t going to work. I’m not going to use that take. Let’s start over.” And we’d try something completely different.  We shot the episode, it came out and people seemed to be really pleased with it.

It seemed refreshing in terms of its honesty, and in the fact that everyone could have a conversation. It wasn’t a mob mentality.  I think it was a relief to me to see that come across in the final product.

You heard that from a lot of different points of view?

Yes, from a lot of different people on a lot of the things that we discussed in the process.  Specifics that they brought up, I would think in the back of my head that gosh, that’s something that we addressed in the writing, or it’s something that we talked to Mariska and to Nooch (Michael Chernuchin) and Julie about. So it was refreshing to hear that because what people brought up was the stuff that we not necessarily fixed, but that we addressed, and that we felt was important to get across.

And then I heard from you, you know, that amazing email that you wrote me about the water cooler moments that were happening. And that really was a huge confirmation because we really went to task on getting this right. There was some fear that we would offend some people, you know?

Obviously, there was a victim and we needed to explore why, but there had to be facts with it. It couldn’t just be feelings. So there was a concern about that, and how that might come across. Because the show has a current, a slant and we couldn’t go against that. But there needed to be that element that Stone can’t be guilty, or he’s not going to be in more episodes. (laughter)

Exactly! (laughing)

No matter what, right? And he can’t just come out and be…well, I think the term that we were throwing around was “Oh, but he’s such a good guy, that he just says “I don’t remember. But I guess I must have done it.”

And I was like, “No! This is not how this stuff works, people’s lives are at stake! This is not how this works. You dig and dig and dig, and you pull up the facts.” So, that’s what we did in the writing. The teamwork and the willingness from the high-ups to do that was incredible to me. It was such an ensemble from the very get-go, and that was really refreshing to me. Then the show came out, and it worked. I think it worked.

videotogif_2018.11.19_07.52.26

And here we are on the other side of that with Stone now. He’s realized that maybe he needs to address some things in his life. He needs to look at not only the past, but at the road that he’s building in front of him for the future. That’s where we’re at right now and it’s a good place to be. I’d like to see it come full circle, I’d like to see some resolution. We’re not there yet.  I don’t know if we’ll get it.

That’s the road we’re on with Stone. I’m sure there will be some hiccups along the way that would be interesting. I think the writers are going to put some in because usually, that walk through sobriety or into clarity is not a straight road. It’s not as easy as you think it’s going to be. We’ll have some hiccups and we’ll bang our knees, but ultimately I think we’ll get there, by the end of the season hopefully.

Oh by the end season, hmm ok.  So then do you think they are writing Stone as having true addictions, both a sexual addiction and an alcohol addiction? Or for him is all of this just an obviously self-destructive but temporary coping mechanism? Is this the temporary reaction to trauma or is this really who he is?

I think the way that I’m addressing it is that alcohol has always been a part of his life. And oftentimes, like happens in real life, it takes a hold of you before you realize it, before you understand it. So to be able to step away from it, you first have to say “Actually, maybe I just didn’t know I had a problem.” And that’s the hardest part, because alcohol is such a slippery devil that it will kind of come out of left field. Then when you stop, and you really take note of where you’ve been with it, or where it’s been your whole life you realize, “Gosh, ever since whatever age – 14, 15 years old, this stuff’s been in my life.” You start to wonder about things in your past, “I wonder about that decision. I wonder about those circumstances.”

I think for Peter Stone, that’s definitely been the case, especially with the sports background and the “jock” mentality, whether or not he played into that. There was the scene in Mariska’s episode where Stone said, “You know, we celebrated having the no-hitter almost. We went to a bar, and we celebrated by getting drunk. And we went back to my hotel room.” That mentality was in him. So I thought about that, and thought there’s a lot of the discussion about men and how they celebrate, how they act.

The phrase that’s getting thrown around a lot lately is “toxic masculinity”. Whether or not it was that, it was just something that he chose to do in his past. Addressing it now becomes more about “Gosh, maybe there was more of a hold on me. Maybe socially with others lawyers too, the “let’s go have a scotch and talk about the case.” It just becomes the normal thing to do and before you know it, you’re using it as a crutch. But you have to be in a place where you’re strong enough to address it.

Do I think he’s an alcoholic? I don’t. Do I think he has a drinking problem? Yes. Do I think he’s addicted to sex? No. Do I think he’s using relationships and one-night stands as a coping mechanism? Absolutely!  And I think there is a difference, you know?

7e0221bc-2089-485c-a8dd-71f5357c6d4d[1]

Absolutely, there is. I agree.

I think we talked a little bit about this the last time too. The new research into alcoholism shows that it’s not so black and white. It’s not the 1950s anymore. It’s not as clear-cut as we want it to be. Sometimes there’s more of a…well, like a rev counter on an engine almost. There’s “Risk…High Risk…and Death (sort of) and the needle kind of goes through it. It goes up and down through it over your lifetime. And you have to make a decision, “Do I want to even play that game?” And that’s what Stone’s doing right now.

You brought up toxic masculinity.  I realize I come from a really unique background, as a former athlete and Athletic Trainer I lived in that “world” of sports, and (as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate) I’ve for a long time, lived in the “world” of sexual assault. I have a high level of respect for all of it. I mean, my life was sports for a long time. I know both worlds, the realities and the mis-perceptions and exactly how they overlap. Yes, there absolutely is toxic masculinity, but not everything masculine is toxic.

Right, exactly.

Unfortunately that’s a strong attitude out there right now, especially on social media. You recently got into a little bit of trouble on social media with something that you wrote. I wondered what your reaction to that was. It was so clear to me what you were trying to say, and to most people, but the backlash was just…

Yeah, it’s interesting, that was very much one of those moments where I went, “Huh?” It split up into a lot of roads for me, that event, because it happened over a weekend. The initial thing was…what was it?  I don’t even know the day it was, like, Celebrate Men Monday, or something like that.  (laughter) And I’m like the last guy to be like, “Yeah, let’s grab a random holiday and tweet something about it.” (laughter)

But I’d just gotten done working out and was at the gym. I’d been at work, where we were working on this episode, on Mea Culpa. And I was like, “Being a man is not something to apologize about. And I certainly won’t sit here and say, because I’m a man I am part of the problem. Just because of who I am.” That’s bullshit, right?

By the way, that wasn’t my thought going into that tweet. (laughing) It was just Man Monday or whatever, I can’t remember exactly. Anyway, I wrote something and it was pretty clear. I want to find this quote so I don’t chop it up. But it was pretty clear cut, right?

It was to me! (laughter)

It was basically “love someone, tell the truth, be kind” or something like that. There was nothing in it that was..

Yes, it was something really positive about love and… I think later in a follow up tweet you used the word violence but specified  “in opposition to evil or fighting evil.”

In opposition to evil, right. Well that was like…

It was very clear what you meant.

That was my response later, right? I said something about violence, but in my response. And people lost their minds! Well not everybody, but some people lost their minds. (laughter)  And I was really intrigued by that.

I thought, well, that’ll be it.  Oh, here it is. Okay, “The world doesn’t need less masculine men. It needs more masculine men. Stand up for what you believe, love someone and seek truth.” I mean, “love someone and seek truth,” the fact that people could take offense at that just proves that we’re in such a fascinating time.

(laughter) Exactly.

And then people lost their stuff and said, “Masculinity is a disease” and “It depends what you mean by masculinity.” And I suppose on the surface people are absolutely right. I guess it depends what you mean by masculinity. Do you mean beating your chest and screaming and yelling in people’s faces, etc? Of course, I don’t mean that.

But people can make villains out of anything, and they can twist your words into anything. That’s the problem with Twitter, the problem with social media, and why I tend to stay away from it. It’s not that I’m afraid of making a mistake. I just don’t have the time to deal with that idiocy.  I don’t want to give it my time, and I don’t want to give anybody who chooses to pick a fight my time.

If someone said something horrific or something terrible, I guess go ahead have a go. I wanted to just say, “Hey guys, it is okay to be a guy, and it’s okay to sweat. Just know that it’s okay to follow your dream. It’s okay to go to the gym and throw a hammer around, it’s okay to play sports, and it’s okay to love something ferociously.”

Like I remember meeting my wife and I wanted to storm castles for her.  I felt that feeling of “I want to storm castles for you, I want to fight for you.” I think that in this Gillette-esque world where we’re now being told that maybe some of that is wrong, it’s so confusing for men and boys. It really can be confusing. So yeah, my intent was obviously never to piss people off. But hey it’s the Internet, someone’s always going to take offense. You could write that the sun is shining and someone will take offense. (laughing)

So that’s a long-winded way of saying I didn’t intend for it to go there, and it did. And then I saw a few responses (to the initial tweet) and I thought, “Well I should just let these slide.” But, it was early in the morning; I was getting on a flight. Then I landed in Minneapolis to catch my other flight and I saw like these 40-plus responses saying “masculinity is toxic” and “you just did an episode on it” etc. Telling me what my character was doing.

So I thought, “Okay, I can’t let that slide”, and just tweeted back. Again, I don’t think I was rude, I said something along the lines of masculine traits equal strength, courage, independence, and assertiveness and violence, when directed at evil. We don’t need less but more of these. So I doubled down a little bit.

Unfortunately many people believe that everything is an either/or proposition, that more of one thing MUST come at the expense or diminishment of another which I believe says quite a lot about the person. It’s a very confining way to think.  How anyone can think that more strength, love and truth isn’t a win for everyone is beyond me.

Right. I got back to Montana, and I was kind of riled up. I had 48 hours in Montana with my family and the first 12 hours of it, I was riled up about what strangers were tweeting. And that drove me nuts! So I just decided “All right, either I’ll do something like that again, and I just won’t pay any attention to what comes back, or I just won’t do it again.”

And I don’t mean out of passivity but, my time is my time. And I realized the other side of this edge was that, wow that really affected me. It actually affected me. The Internet affected my life. That pissed me off and I’m not going to let that happen again.

But I did see how dangerous these things are in the hands of kids, high school kids, seventh and eighth graders, and younger. I actually did a little deep dive and went looking for stats on what’s now happening with the younger generation and phones, and came up with all this research about anxiety and depression and suicides going through the roof from 12 year olds, through seniors in high school. And they are directly linking it to cell phones and to social media.

And I thought, “Okay, here we go, there was a reason this happened. Because whenever something like that happens to me I think, “Wow, I’m having a visceral response to this. I can’t be the only one.”  That’s what sent me down that path. So ultimately it was a good thing, you know? I’m not glad that it happened, but I’ve definitely learned something. And I probably will continue to speak my mind because I think it’s important.

Well, I really hope that you do. There always seem to be parts of fandoms, like anything on the internet, that are really negative and hostile. There’s some “toxic” for you! They are negative people in general, just waiting for any excuse to attack.

And that’s the interesting part. “Please tell us your feelings, and please be honest with us… as long as we agree with it.” And that part is always sort of in parentheses (as long we agree with it.) But that’s not the world. That’s not politics; that’s not democracy; that’s not freedom, and it should not… Well hey, people are trying to make it like that, but it should not be that.

Right, exactly. And I totally understand that visceral reaction. I’ve had to mute and even block people because they just are too negative, too hostile. They definitely take a “the beatings will continue until morale improves” approach to things. And it just gets to be too much over a TV show. Seriously, can’t they just enjoy one freaking episode without attacking Stone, or the writers or producers or…

See, that’s interesting, I don’t get that. I don’t see that stuff.  I’ll come in, and sometimes the writers would be like, “Boy, you really got ripped on or they really leaned into you last night on the fan pages.” And I’ll be like, “did they?” I guess, whatever. That doesn’t interest or even bother me now. Some people have a lot of spare time. (laughing)

You said that you were inspired to do research on the cell phone/social media issue. I’m curious about what other kind of research you might do as far as the show is concerned. Do you do much background reading on any of the topics that you’re covering? What are you reading these days?

What am I reading right now? I’m not reading anything to do with the show, (laughter) I was reading… ooh, those negative fans will love this. (laughter) I’m reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. It’s a great book. I’m reading ah, hang on I’ve got to go in my room here. I just finished a book on biology called The Disappearing Spoon (author Sean Kean), which is really interesting. This was all over Christmas break. I haven’t started a new book yet, I need to start a new book because I really enjoy reading. My dad got me into the John D. McDonald series of Travis McGee, you know, those books? They were sort of pop?

I don’t but one of my good friends reads them and is constantly telling me I should read them, so now you’re the second guy who’s told me I should read them. 

Yeah, they are so good. I mean, they’re very dated so there’s glaring sorts of social problems with it. But the writing is so good, and the character is a lot of fun. It could be a fun character to play, but you know, we’d have to modernize them a little bit.  But it’s very well written.

For Mea Culpa I went into a lot of the stats about sexual assault, just went into it. I dove into the things that you and I have discussed – accusations, the numbers and the statistics on accusations, and the rates of prosecutions, the rate of wrongful convictions, the rates of lying or false accusations, things like that. I just went across the board and just soaked up as much of that as I could. I like that stuff. I like when there’s numbers in front of you, the facts. You can have a proper discussion about it, because we all have feelings towards things, but we also need the facts.

If something is bad, my God, if someone is doing something horrible, the feelings and responses that come out of it are right. They’re vitriolic. You should be upset about it. But we still need numbers and we still need facts. That’s what I like about playing this character, playing Stone.  I’m quite a feelings person, but Stone is like, “Hey, it feels like this but let’s see how it washes out.  Let’s see what comes out with the numbers and with the facts. Get me the evidence I need,” you know? That’s what I dig about this guy.

And that’s what I liked about that episode, about Mea Culpa. He went at it the way he would go at any other case. He asked Fin. He said, “Fin, you gotta do this, you gotta open this up for me because I need to know what happened.

Exactly, he needed the truth. We’ve talked about that, that the episode was really powerful on an issue basis, as well as your performance. There was just so much of Stone that was just bedrock to his character that was at stake.

Yeah, that was being challenged.

videotogif_2018.11.23_23.32.29

videotogif_2018.11.24_23.46.18

videotogif_2018.11.24_22.48.07

Exactly and when you told me that they were going to just have him roll over and say, “Hey, well I guess I did it.” What? No. Just no. As a fan, I would have seen that as the worst character betrayal you could possibly do to Stone. There’s just no way this character would ever do that.

Right. I think that that was always going to come out, we were always going to figure that out. But I was a little surprised. I was like, “Absolutely not. First of all, nobody would react like that. Second of all, there’s no coming back from that.” There’s just not. Yeah, it doesn’t work.

Exactly. No one is going to react like that and especially not Stone. Not someone to whom truth is non-negotiable.

But especially not Stone! And what we’re seeing now, which I am hugely grateful to the writers for, is we’re continuing this deep dive. We had the episode Dear Ben where we go deep diving into something Stone didn’t even know existed. We went into the serial rapist, the Infinity rapist, and he learned some more about his father. This ongoing shadow of his father and the quest to make it less of a shadow and just more of a presence, you know, less of a cloud and more of just a memory.

And that’s where Stone is. He’s always there, he’s always dealing with the influence of his late father. And I like that we’re digging into that, that makes this interesting, that makes him even more rounded.

Yes, I really thought it was a great unexpected episode. And still at the end when Stone’s says “Yeah” I have to forgive him.” Well, umm okay, I’m not convinced he’s going to. (laughing)

(laughter) I know, right! Was he going to go to the bar? Was he going to go hook up? Who knows? That’s the great thing about those endings there, you just go “There’s a guy in the moment.” Who knows what he’s going to do. What are the choices, you know? Pick an ending.

videotogif_2019.01.18_03.20.57[1]

I also really thought the twist of why Ben Stone was so obsessed with the case was pretty good. What I took away from that episode, because I’ve been thinking this guy, Stone, cannot possibly be this damaged because his dad didn’t come to his ball games, come on! Are we really going with that being “the thing?” But then there was the line, “We never talked about that game,” and…

Yeah, we never talked about it.

…and they never talked about anything their entire lives.

That’s exactly right. And that was what I thought too, that one little road of “we never talked about it”, and we never talked about anything else. Things would or wouldn’t happen and the next day you would just get on with your life you know? Oof, uh, oh man that’s horrible, that gives me…yuck that just feels… it’s a horrible feeling.

So how do you work with that? What do you do with that with him?

That that’s what’s always in Stone’s mind?

Uh huh.

It is that. When dealing with the people who come through SVU, part of his emotional response, in particularly women in need, women in trouble i.e. like his sister. He has to put that stuff somewhere too, because I think his initial response is “Let’s go! Let’s go get him. Let’s go grab a baseball bat and let’s go talk to these people.” (laughs)

But he knows that that’s a response from his brokenness and a response from his past. Not knowing his sister like he would have wanted to, wanting to help her, and not being able to be there for her in her time of need. Having that broken relationship with his father and never being able to live up to his father. His father always saying, “Hey you know, we’ll talk about it, I’ll be there, we’ll figure it out.” And then looking up in the stands and not only is he not there, but he goes home and he’s not there either. So there’s no one to talk to, ever. All this stuff just gets pushed down, and pushed down, and pushed down.

And another really neat facet of it is that the writers recognized this really early on, and decided, “Hey let’s have Benson be that person.” Let’s have Benson be the person who’s constantly just saying, “Hey Stone how about this? Hey Stone you said something earlier, what did you mean by that?” And he’s never had that. And so how Stone reacts to that is “in the moment.” We’ll have to see where that goes. I think we’re going to continue to see that evolve.

We have an episode coming up with Cassidy and Stone. With Cassidy’s story, Stone and Cassidy going back a little bit and saying, “Hey how do we talk about this, you know, as two guys?” So that’s good writing, it’s good for the characters. It opens them up even more to stuff that is there, but we haven’t discussed in front of the audience, and that’s important.

Ooh, are they going to bring up his storyline again?

They are, yes, they’re bringing back the storyline again…

Oh good, great!

Which is great. We’re addressing things that came up and didn’t get fully wrapped up, which is great.

Oh, that’s going to be great!

Just want to quickly ask you about Stone’s alcohol use again. By the end of every episode Stone’s going out and getting hammered… or in the middle of an episode, or in the beginning of an episode… and, as happens so often in TV, they never really explicitly show him hung over at work. There’s never an effect and that’s a lot of alcohol.

Yes, you never see that.

But there was one scene, the very last scene in the premiere when Stone wins the case, when he gets his verdict. He’s walking out of the courtroom and just sort of stops and takes a little sideways, backwards step like possibly he was dizzy. He looked shaky. I finally thought “Wow, is he hung over?” You were even sweating, and I thought finally “He is so ropey right now!” (laughing) Is that how…

(laughing)  That’s great you picked that up! So I was definitely thinking in those opening episodes that this guy’s gotta be ridin’ the tiger, I mean all of this stuff! Certainly those first episodes, and then in Mea Culpa he had the courtroom scene. I mean there’s no way you could live like that and be as put together as Stone wants to be. I think he’s high functioning when he does make these bad decisions. So that was mixed with the fact that it was like 98 degrees in the courtroom over the summertime where we couldn’t get air conditioning in there and it was brutal! (laughing) So I’m glad that it told the story for us, that’s nice.

That was definitely some of the chats I would have with the director saying “Look the night before, I mean it wasn’t a little night! It wasn’t a couple jars.” (laughing) You know, he made a decision to deal with this and today’s the day he’s gotta pay the price! So those are definitely things that I address in my head. Whether they make it or not, or whether they want them to be there. So we discussed that in the moment. But in the summertime the courtroom is a sweat box, and it’s no fun. (laughing)

Well it paid off. (laughing)

We’re literally blotting ourselves right as they yell “rolling”. And then if it’s a two page scene by the end of it you’re just dripping with sweat!!

Well it worked! You looked like “man he looks he like is on the verge of hurling right now, he is so hung over.” (laughing)

Yeah, that’s it, too much Guinness.

videotogif_2019.01.03_12.46.55[1]

Is there ever really too much Guinness? Come on! (laughter) Another question about where his head’s at right now. The episode in which the victim had dissociative personality disorder (Exile)? He was really angry throughout that entire episode. It seemed disconnected. Did I pick up on that correctly or…?

Yeah, you really did, that’s interesting. There was a subplot that got cut out for time. It was about Stone’s anger at his parents for not being more active. And I think one of the lines that did stay in was “My father had half the PD looking for my sister.” That’s dismissed and the reason for all of that got cut out. So we never got to see why he was so upset. The reason was again that he was upset at himself and upset at his father because he thought, “All these people…how could they just give up?” You would do everything, you would move time itself and you would figure it out. You would figure out how to find this person. But that story left the show. So we just had Stone looking a bit pissed off and then he was just hung over the whole time. (laughter)

(Laughing) I kept thinking “Why is he so angry at this therapist? She’s just doing her job.”

I think that again was Stone’s “the facts don’t care about your feelings” mentality that he has too often sometimes. We wanted Stone to be like, “Oh, come on, there’s nothing here. I can’t put my hat on any of that. What you’re telling me is completely… I just have to believe you? You’re telling me I just have to believe you that this person literally thinks she’s somebody else, and forgot who they were for 18 years? You know, that’s ridiculous.”

And there was another scene that got cut out. There was a scene at a park bench with the therapist and Stone, we had a hot dog and a pretzel and talked about this case. And I said well, he didn’t really apologize, but he opened up a bit and said, “Hey, we both have jobs to do. And I appreciate that yours is different from mine.” And it was a nice little scene, but unfortunately, it didn’t make it.

Well, that’s too bad. It would have made a little more sense to why he was so angry. (laughing)

(laughing) Ha, yeah Stone’s going to go Michael Stonebridge on everyone here in a minute!

Ooh, there’s a great plot twist a lot of people would love! It made no sense. (laughing) But, one of the things that was really great in that episode was that the victim exploded at Benson after she (Benson) offered up some of her platitudes and promises. My advocate self thought “Oh thank you, thank you, yes! The platitudes, please stop, just stop.” It’s good TV but not good practice.

Speaking as an advocate, you don’t ever make promises to a victim. It just should never happen. You can’t do it. And Benson does it constantly! Then (in episode Hell’s Kitchen) poor Stone thinks, “Ok, you know, I’m learning from the best here.” Goes out, makes a promise to a victim and has it blow up in his face! (laughing)

It blows up at his face, that’s right.

videotogif_2018.11.11_13.44.58(1)[1]

Any reaction to that…that she gets away with it every week and Stone does it once and “boom!”? (laughing)

Yeah, we have a little bit of that coming up in this next episode we’re working on, in Facing Demons, because Dean Winter’s character Cassidy calls me out. He’s like, “You know, I told you what happened, and you just gave me this look.” And Stone kinda says, “Yeah, well, I was new to SVU, I was learning.” And Cassidy says something along the lines of, “Well, you know, maybe don’t. Maybe keep that attitude,” because it was honest.

And that’s why it’s hard for victims to go through with it, because of that response, that, really brutally honest response. I think that in our imaginations, when we go down that road of telling people about things that we don’t want them to know, our secrets. We always imagine it to be the worst it can be. Hopefully that’s not the case. Hopefully people are gracious and kind and understanding with us, and with our hearts, and with that really fragile part of us that we lay on the table in front of them.

But sometimes it can be too much, right? It can be like, “Oh, fuck, come on!” And that’s what I like about this next episode, Cassidy just says “Spare me that bullshit, you know, it’s not that nice. Spare me, just give it to me straight” you know?”

Yes, I do know. Good, great, I’m looking forward to it. There are times watching when I just sit there and think, “Oh God, that should just never happen. You would never say that to a victim or a cop would never do that, you know?” And that’s the struggle that we have, the cops I work with and the advocates I work with. It’s that blurring of the lines, of Benson being written as both an advocate and a cop. In the real world, that just doesn’t work. But, it is a TV show, so you go with it…

Yeah, that’s hard, that’s tough, right. You know, it’s like, having a never-ending magazine, it just keeps shooting. You never run out of bullets! (laughing) So there are just lines that are like, “Well, that’s what’s going to happen today.” (laughing)

But you know, like when we talked about this before, it can be really powerful. And by the way, this isn’t plus or minus anyone’s decisions on the show, this is a total sidebar. But television can be really powerful and is really powerful when we don’t patronize our audience, right?

Right, when it’s not patronizing.

Or theater’s like that. I was lucky enough to go to “Hamilton” again on Saturday, with my dad, it was his birthday. The first time I was blown away! This time I just wept for three hours, (laughter) because I understood more of it. I knew what was coming. I was able to slow it down a little bit in my head and hear stuff out. Lin Manuel, he doesn’t patronize his audience. He pile drives them for three hours with 25 years of history. He never says sorry, he never apologizes. And he says, “The train is leaving at this time, and it will pull in at this time, and it will not slow down the whole time.”

And it’s incredible and it’s transformative and it’s inspiring. It does something to you. We run the risk in writing, in TV and movies of going, “Oh gosh I don’t know, they might not understand that so let’s dumb it down.” And then what happens is that’s exactly what it is, it’s watered down, it’s a half truth.

So it doesn’t land. The character’s wet, and everything around it crumbles, because it’s not reality, right? And that’s our one job, to try and portray this specific reality the best we can. Not to water it down, and not to candy-coat it. It can have really lasting impacts when you do it well, and when you tell the truth. So that’s definitely a total sidebar with my two cents on acting. (laughing)

No, that was a really good sidebar, I enjoyed it. Thank you counselor. (laughing)

Gosh, Spencer Tracy: look the other fellow in the eye and tell the truth. (laughing)

Just before you called I was reading the episode description for the episode “The Flying Dutchman” (title since changed to Part 33) in which Stone’s prosecuting a woman who killed her abusive husband.

Right.

Is that in the can? You’re done with that one, I’m assuming? It sounds really interesting.

We just finished it last week, it’s a great episode. And it was great because it was one of these little elevator episodes. We have stuff happening in the courtroom. And then we have stuff happening in the box, which is where you wait to take the stand. And that’s it. So it’s a little Mamet play. And Michael Chernuchin just knocked it out of the park!

It’s people voicing their inner monologues. It’s the struggle of the facts versus your feelings. For the particular stuff we were talking about just a little bit ago, it’s an episode where you’re going to get up at the end of it and cheer for Benson because she makes a brutal decision, which is great.

And when we all read it, we were like, “Wow, that’s a good total choice there, Nooch. Good job!” We were all really excited after we read it. It’s great; I think it’s going to be a fun episode. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Well as soon as I read it I’m like, “Oh, this sounds like it could be really, really good!” So, yes Mamet! Now I’m really excited. That is my kind of storytelling. And it sounds like probably one where I don’t want to get on certain twitter pages the next day.  (laughing)

Oh my goodness! No, maybe not! (laughing)

Something’s just telling me Stone prosecuting this woman maybe isn’t going to go over well with them. (laughing)

Yeah, that’s right. (laughing)

You mentioned the writers and episodes are going to start incorporating more character stuff. Of course you know, a lot of the “shippers” out there want Benson and Stone hooking up. (laughter) But I’m wondering if maybe we’re going to see more Carisi and Stone scenes together?

I certainly hope so. Just on a friendship level Peter (Scanavino), he’s fantastic. He’s my go-to guy on set. I so enjoy working with him. The Dear Ben episode that we just saw, I think that was a little test of it. And certainly, I think we’re going to see more of it. Actually, we see it get really tested in The Flying Dutchman (Part 33) episode, which is really interesting to watch. I’ve had some people come up on set and say “I really enjoyed that stuff with Carisi and Stone.” Oh good to know… so I can put that in my hat and take it to the director or take it to the writers room and say “Hey, this stuff is working. Maybe we should explore it some more.”

Oh it definitely is.  It’s really good. There’s good chemistry between the characters, and the scenes are interesting…

He’s so good too. Peter is phenomenal. I want to work with him in another capacity, but I want to have more of a… like, the bromance can only go so far I think, because of Stone. The work that Stone does, and the work that Carisi does, they don’t have the time. But I really want to work with him. I want to keep working with Peter, he’s just so much fun.

That would be awesome. Carisi is a lawyer too so it makes sense that they would connect. They have things in common, they should connect more. And poor Carisi, he really is trying to help.

Yeah, that’s right, exactly.  Every time I say “no” to him, I get in trouble. Every time that he says, “Hey, you want to go have a beer?” I end up going out and getting in trouble myself. (laughing)

Exactly! (laughing)

We even joke now where if he says, “Hey, you want to… Just once, like let’s go have a beer or pizza?” I should say absolutely. So I then I might not go out and get my ass kicked again! (laughing)

(laughing) Exactly, exactly!  There was the one episode where… Oh, I forget what episode it was. But Carisi is like, “Come on, let’s go get a burger.” And I’m like, “Stone dude, for the love of God, choose the beef! Nooo, don’t pick up that woman!

Just go with him already! (laughing!)

1ac76fa5-0fd8-4d0d-b926-7d240a3edd67(1)[1]

Those characters are really good together, they play off each other well. Personally, I’m not terribly interested in Stone and Benson being a “couple.” I just don’t see much good coming out of that. (laughing) I’d much rather see this friendship developed.

Yeah, I’m hoping they continue to explore that in the writing .

Excellent! So you know, if anyone’s looking for my two cents, you can let them know that your fan page admin says that’s what they want. (laughing)

That’s great! They’ll read it. They’ll definitely read this. (laughing)

You mentioned you weren’t yet sure how the season was going to end up for Stone. Where do you want to see it go? Do you think we’ll see Stone actually get some real help? Really start exploring his relationship with his father? How it has or still does influence his choices, his current situation? Or is it just going to be “Yeah, okay, I forgive him” and then it just keeps festering?

Right and it just kind of does its thing until it rears its ugly head again? (laughing) I really don’t know where it’s going to end up. What I would like to see is that with the healing that he will start to go through, I think some of the things that are causing him pain will start to drop off, the random hookups, the drinking. We should start to see healing in those areas as he continues to look for the ultimate answers in his relationship with his father as well as his obsession with work, his addictive personality towards his job.

I think ultimately we’re going to  see him realizing there are things in his life that are just making it impossible to get actual healing, like the drinking, and the random hookups, and the emotional turmoil that he’s going through as a result of those behaviors. So that would be the path that I think we’re going to see first.

And then through the clarity that comes in the sobriety, and through the clarity that comes in the time that he’s opened up for himself, I would hope to see him say, “Oh… okay, now I can actually, in a sober mind and in a clear head space, say this thing is what’s causing it. This area of my life is what I really need to explore.”

And whether or not that is him finally opening up to Benson, instead of Benson asking him to open up, maybe that’s a possibility. Maybe it is bro stuff with Peter, with Carisi. Maybe it is more of, “Hey, you know that rain check on the burger? Can I use that right now?” You know, that kind of approach.

I hope that that’s what happens and what we start to see. Because that’s one of the things that, going way back to the beginning of our talk and talking about masculinity. The pitfall sometimes of “masculinity” is that stereotypical sort of “head down, do the work, don’t talk,” the “rancher mentality”, you know?

I actually talked to my dad about that, because he grew up on a ranch and his father was a World War II Navy vet. Just a quiet, get-the-job-done kind of guy; but, we didn’t really talk about stuff. And with Stone, I think that’s certainly his “go-to” also to just bury it, head down, do the work. But in reality, in life, this ugly emotional baggage always rears its head, and it’ll come out at the worst possible time.

I had some of the best advice I ever got, in the real world, from a friend of mine in London. I must have been 22 years old. I sat down with this buddy of mine at a pub and we were talking. He’s probably 20 years older than I am. He said, “Listen Philip, you know, you look around, you’re 22 years old and you see the adults in your life. You see the adults walking around, getting on the tube, doing their business, living their lives.” He said, “And you assume right now at 22 that they’ve got their shit all sorted out, right?” He’s like, “Let me tell you what, not only is that the farthest thing from the truth, but the longer they don’t sort their shit out, the harder it gets to do it.” And he just looked right at me and said, “If you’ve got stuff going on in your life, address it right now, like right now, today. And maybe you’ve got more than one thing, start addressing them now, little by little.”

And it was the best advice I ever got. He was so right because before long, that one little thing that you thought “I’ll figure that out later”, suddenly, you’re 10 years down and that was gosh, a long time ago. Now that little thing is huge. I got that advice and I’m grateful for it because there were certainly things in my life that I was like, hang on a second, I gotta figure this out.

And that, taking that into Stone, you know dealing with all his “stuff”, that’s what I want to see for this guy. I want to see him go “Okay, enough’s enough.” You never change if you don’t look at it, and you don’t look at yourself and say, “What is this?”

And that’s the beauty of good relationships.  And I think that that can come out of a relationship with Carisi. It certainly started to come out with Benson. Also a little bit with Fin in Mea Culpa. Him just saying “Bullshit man, I don’t believe you, give me more, I don’t believe you.” You know that’s the beauty of friendships, right?

Friends aren’t just the people you celebrate with and get into pits with. Friends are the people who sit across the table and say, “Don’t lie to me, man. I don’t have time for that.” That’s the beauty of a really great friendship, having that honesty. Not just, “Everything’s great, everything’s awesome.” No, it’s “Really? You want to tell me that again, but tell me the truth this time?” Those relationships are priceless. So I’m hoping for more of that with Stone.

That’s really interesting. My first reaction when he woke up at Finn’s was “Wow, isn’t that an interesting choice of where he chose to pass out.” The one guy who’s just going to be right in his face about what the hell’s going on here. If that isn’t a cry for help…

Yeah, right? Fin’s just going to say “No, give it to me like it is.” And he’s not going to take anything less than the truth. Yeah, that was so smart on the writers part, because it could have been, you know, “Carisi, we can kind of figure this out or this,” but yeah, it was Fin. Yeah, I’m going to dig deep!

Screenshot_2018-11-10-13-17-44~2[1]

I thought that was brilliant. And I will say that one thing that I’m hopeful for if there is more of a Carisi -Stone connection, is that Carisi starts to be able to deal with his baggage too because that’s just one long, completely forgotten storyline with him.

Like, the PTSD and a whole list of things. (laughing)

Yes! Are they ever going to let this guy have a little storyline that actually comes to fruition, that we can see some real consequences? My thought is that this really could be the perfect way to do it, to reintroduce those dropped pieces of Carisi. In helping Stone it starts to poke at those scars and he realizes, “oh man, this is me too”, you know?

That’s right. Isn’t that the truth though? That’s exactly what happens in real life, you say, “Yeah, it’s so nice that I have the time and inclination to help this person.” And then you get home and you go, “Oh, my gosh, I totally do that too! I’m in the same boat!” (laughing) You know, that’s the beauty of relationships, that’s the beauty of the truth is. It cuts through everything.

And there you have it, right back to Stone and the commitment to the truth. 

Right! (laughing)

So what else is going on for you? Do you know if you have a pickup for next season? Anything else you’re thinking of working on in the near future?

No, I don’t think we do have a pick up for next season yet. But we’re all keeping our fingers crossed because it would be that coveted 21st year for everybody. And clearly, I mean gosh, I haven’t put in the work that everybody else has, but it would be such an honor to be a part of that team, and a part of that crew, that gets to that 21st year. So that’s exciting, I’m holding out for that, because that’s going to be incredible.

And then come hiatus if we do get another season, and they do ask me back, I may just take that hiatus and be a dad, because as you know the next kid is due any day now, and so we are…

Oh, I didn’t realize we were that close!

Yeah! So that’s the biggest thing going on in my life right now, the Winchester Number Two. I think it would have to be something really incredible for me to want to leave the house! Charlie is going to be four, and the next one that we don’t know what it is, – we’re going to wait like we did with Charlie – is going to come out kind of any day now. So I’m hoping it stays in for another week ‘cause I’m in New York for the next week!

Yeah, that’s a little nerve racking huh?

The joke with NBC was, “If you could just keep the jet on standby I’d really appreciate it.” They’re like, “Yeah, whatever.” (laughing) There’s one direct flight from New York and it’s at 8:00 in the morning, so if I get a call anywhere before 5:30 in the morning, I’m golden. But I can’t even get out of here after like 7:00 in the evening. So there’s a chunk of time we’re just like…it’s the fingers crossed that baby stays in there. (laughing)

I keep telling my wife things like “If it snows, don’t shovel! Have the neighbors do that! Call a friend to come over, like, don’t induce labor, like just stop!” She said to me today “I’m going to go out and shovel the snow, I’m going to  clean up your truck.” And I was like, “No! Don’t do any of that stuff!” (laughing)

Meanwhile on the other end she’s thinking “Dude, I’m going to start doing jumping jacks as soon as we’re off the phone!”

Yeah, that’s exactly what my wife’s thinking! She’s like, “Don’t tell me what to do! Get this thing out!” It’s so exciting! So that’s the next step.

 Oh, I’m really so happy for you guys. I realized when our facebook admin saw (someone’s) post hinting at the baby and we hid the post before I even cleared it with you that you may have thought that a little weird. (laughing) But, that’s just my background coming out, that default on confidentiality and protecting privacy. That was an advocate reaction, to protect that information until you made it public.

(laughing) No, that was totally cool. I think we realized the other day that we haven’t told many people. And obviously, she’s (very) pregnant, she’s showing quite a bit. The people in town and family know, but we really, not by choice, just haven’t told many people. But yeah, we’re awfully close.

So I guess if something came up over the hiatus, and it was quick, I would definitely have to think about it. But I really want to stay home, and I really want to be there for those first few months because then, if we did get another season, for example, we’d all be coming back here in July to tuck in and start over again. We do what we did this year and make it work and enjoy the city as a big growing family. I’d bounce between here and Montana. And then, you know, down the road we’ll see.

I’ve been talking with MJ (Bassett) and a writer friend of mine in Los Angeles who worked on Shooter for quite a while. We’ve been getting those creative juices flowing in the action drama world and throwing some stuff down, getting ideas out there together and saying, “If we did do something, what would that time period look like? When would it happen?”

So that’s cool. Nothing’s in stone yet, you know, like it ever is. (laughing) But that’s an exciting prospect, because the writer is wonderful, MJ is wonderful, and we’re all hungry to do something like that again. So, we’ll see. But right now, SVU ticks all the boxes. I get to be an actor, and a husband, and a dad and I can’t ask for any more than that.

PictureQuotes1549117668(1)[1]

want to be running around, I want to be doing some of that Strike Back-y stuff, but I can’t do that and be a dad on the weekends, when I fly back to Montana. I can’t do that.  As amazing as it would be, I’ve had that opportunity, and it’s someone else’s turn now. I’m grateful because this is the perfect job.

The production team over here in New York on SVU is through the roof caring and amazing. They’re all parents and all the actors on the show are parents. So that ethos of, “Look, I love what I do. I want it to kick ass, and I want the audience to really get a great story; but, I also want to go home for story time.” That’s the ethos on this show. I really appreciate it. It’s a great vibe, you know?

So there’s a little bit of… there’s not a little bit of me, there’s a lot of me that has to… hmm?… I don’t know… It’s not ego, it’s not pride… but there’s definitely that part of me that thinks, “Oh, man, I really felt like we were making a lot of headway in  that particular world, with those kinds of characters.” Even Player which was short-lived, but really full. John Rogers and the production team over there, they kicked ass in telling this really bold, big, broad story.

And we went into it in the network fashion, but we got away with stuff that network TV sometimes doesn’t get away with. I was getting my ass handed to me! I mean I couldn’t have done it for much longer. (laughing) But we did it, and I enjoyed that.

But also looking back, I didn’t see my daughter grow up. I was coming home at 10:00 at night and leaving every morning at 5:00. Come Saturday and Sunday I was tapped out. I mean, I was there… but I wasn’t.

So you realize the sacrifices, and we talked about that in the last interview. So to look back with the knowledge that I have now of what that stuff asks, and what that is,  I said to these producers at the beginning of the year, “Megan’s pregnant. It looks like (this is the) due date,” and they got out their calendars and they said, “Okay, we’ll make sure you’re home.”

And that never happens. That’s just huge, it’s huge. I’ve worked on shows where I can’t have an hour off!  So this is incredible, and I know that. I know how fortunate I am to be a part of a family, and a part of a job that really puts family first.

Yes that is special, it’s unheard of. And babies only smell like babies for so long.

That’s right. They smell like cookies! (laughing) Uh, it’s so beautiful.

Well you cannot miss that. I’m so excited for you!

According to everyone, we’re having a girl. We have no idea, but that’s the theory running around so we’ll see.

Oh so she’s carrying high? (laughing)

Exactly! (laughing) I love the wives’ tales and the mythology around it all. It’s like, “Oh, it’s a girl and  I’m like, “You don’t know. And you have a fifty-fifty chance!” “You’re having a girl.”  And then if it is a girl they go “I told you.” And you’re like “that’s not true”. It was a very good educated guess, well done. (laughing)

It’s so rare now that anybody waits. Why would you want to know? I’d so much rather be excited to see what comes out.

There really isn’t anything like it. There is nothing like that in the world. There are no surprises like that left. You just kind of go into it. And even Charlie, our little girl, she’s excited. Right now the baby’s nickname is the Baby Bean. “How’s the Bean doing today?” And Charlie will come in the morning and lift Megan’s shirt up and kiss her belly and say, “Morning Bean.” And the baby’s at the stage now where you can see all the movement and it’s just at the alien stage, you know? (laughing)  It’s great, it’s so beautiful, so beautiful.

She must be excited to be a big sister?

She really is, yeah, she really is.

I’m just so happy for you guys. So…what else do you think the fans need to know?

I don’t know? I think that’s kind of it for Stone and me. Stone’s that, I’m havin’ a kid, I hope to have a job next July, and ahh, that’s about it. (laughing)

As always, we don’t have a show without our fans. I think a lot of the time that gets overlooked and I’m so grateful, so grateful. And I’m always amazed at the fans who’ve remained through the change of characters. I mean, Stone and then Michael (Stonebridge) and Alex (Kane), these characters are really different. So over the last six years and those big characters, those career characters, it’s really humbling to watch people stick around.

Sure a lot of people have said, either one way or the other like, “I like Stone, I don’t like Stonebridge or I like Stonebridge, I don’t like Stone. But hey, I like watching you.” That’s been really humbling to be a part of a creative endeavor, where people just stick around because they appreciate the work. That’s really cool. And that’s really encouraging.

Some of those days where the job is “a job”, those kinds of fans really get me through it. I’ve gotten some really amazing fan mail about specific scenes or specific lines from Strike Back to Player to SVU. People really pay attention. People really go deep diving. And so I’m grateful, I’m grateful for that. And I’m grateful for the attention to detail that people put into it. There’s a lot of love out there, you know, and it’s great. And there’s a lot of “passion” out there, as we’ve seen on other sites, but you know what? Good, that’s good too. People need a hobby. (laughing)

(laughing) Yeah, well it’d be a lot nicer if maybe they planted some trees or volunteered somewhere. Ugh, when you see that part of a fandom out there, it’s like, “Okay, all right there’s my five minutes with them today.” Then you go back to our page or other pages that are so much more positive, you remember that the majority of people really do “get it” and appreciate the work. That is part of the fun of running a fan page, you get to see all that love.

That’s cool. I’m glad, I’m as ever, impressed and humbled because it’s a sacrifice on your side, on your time, and on your energy. Time is our biggest commodity, right?  It’s the thing that we don’t get it back, any of it. And so I’m really grateful for that, and I’m very aware of that, and what you do with that. So thank you.

Aww, as always thank you. It’s a pleasure. Switching gears quickly for a bit… my friend Kelsey and I have been recording all the podcasts for the new season of Strike Back and…

mediumsquarelogo

I know that is so cool because you’re really doing that! You talked to Milauna (Jackson) the other day and you talked to… not Frank Spotnitz? You talked to Jack.

Yeah, Jack Lothian (executive producer/showrunner/writer) and we talked to Dan MacPherson yesterday for about two hours. (laughing)

(laughing) That’s great!

In fact, your text came up in the middle, I’m like, “Wait up a minute, Dan, hang on I have to look at this.” (laughing) Even though we’re supposed to be talking about the new season, everyone has said some really nice things about you, including Bill Eagles with whom we spoke yesterday.

Really? Well, that’s good to know because boy he had it tough man. That second season of the show was brutal. (laughing) We got trapped in Mozambique, we didn’t think they were going to let us out, they took our passports. Mozambique was insanity! That’s great! I’m encouraged by that. Bill, man he’s such a damned good director. He doesn’t bullshit. You know he is that guy. I love that type of directing. “Let’s do this! Let’s go! What was that? Don’t do that again!” Yeah, he’s awesome like that.

On the subject, but off of it a little, what’s happening with the show that I can see… because I keep up to date with it a little bit. I follow Dan and Warren and Alin. What I can see happening, is what happened the first time when we took over the show from Sky. There’s going to be a time period where it’s still going to be “Strike Back, but it’s not “that” Strike Back.” The natural change happens in that first season, and people grumble or they don’t, or they come into and they really enjoy it. And then that second, and hopefully third and fourth, those seasons really start to sing, and it’s its own.

Well they’re scouting for season three right now.

Yeah? Man, good for them. I said to them, you know “Be smart. You can have the best time of your life for the next four or five years,” and it looks like that’s going to happen again. That’s great.

We’ve seen through episode six and definitely all the problems of last year are gone. Right from the get-go it is Strike Back, exactly what you expect, what you want. They’ve found their mojo, all the production problems that existed last season are gone.

Right on! That’s good to know.

And Mike Spragg is the DP. So you immediately…

Yeah Spraggy! (laughing)

Yes! The minute it started I thought “Wow, this looks totally different.” Some of it’s the setting obviously because they’re in Malaysia, and that’s more vibrant. But just right from the start it’s back, you know…

It’s Strike Back!

Yeah, they figured it out, they knew what the problems were. And in talking with Jack Lothian, he was really upfront about it all. The hanging plastic last year just drove me nuts and he actually brought that up before I did. (laughing)

(laughing)  But you power through and then you…

…and then by the fourth or fifth episode, it was starting to come together. And everyone clearly worked really hard over the off season and they are there now. It hasn’t let me down yet. So it’s well worth watching. And the new cast members are fantastic.

Yeah! We like that. Exactly and that’s what it’s about, you gotta find your feet. And unfortunately people don’t know that, I mean how would you know if you’re a fan? How would you know that it takes that time? You’ve got to sit down with these people. You literally have to get in the trenches with them on these kinds of shows. And you have to learn each other’s ins and outs over time. And what worked for Scott and Stonebridge was that Sully and I were genuinely figuring each other out in real life, as they were in the story.

However, these (the new) characters came in, and they were supposed to know each other, and they were supposed to do this right away. We had the luxury of really digging into each other on screen and off screen. And then this odd couple relationship came out of that investigation, and it just worked. You can’t have that right away, you have to earn it. So, it’s disingenuous for people to say, “Well, why isn’t it like that?” And it was never going to be like that. It always had to be its own thing, and now it is its own thing! It’ll just take over, as it should, right?

Well, Jack said that you guys aren’t dead yet.

Ahh ha ha! Did he? Well that’s nice to know, thanks, Jack! (laughing)

827bd81a-4d90-410b-8fdb-b77ffa9b5914[1]

Jack’s laughing like “I think we could be seeing more of them” and I’m like “don’t even dangle that out in front of my face!” (laughing)

Where are they scouting for the next season? Are they going to stick in Malaysia? I always wanted to do snow.

Well, they’re there in Croatia right now. Jack posted photos full of snow and an abandoned psychiatric hospital saying “What could go wrong here?”

That would be great. I remember talking to Andy Harries (chief executive producer and co-founder of Left Bank Pictures) and saying “I want to do skiing” episodes. I want to be doing something where we have to ski in – ski out or something like very old school James Bond style. And he was like, “Yeah!… We got Thailand instead” (laughing) which was okay. But I would love to do something all in the snow. I can ski! Get me over to Croatia! (laughing)

(laughing) Jack’s been amazing. I can’t even believe how generous he’s been. He gets this direct message from two women who were like, “Hey! We want to do a podcast.” And he’s like “Okay, let’s do it!” And he’s just been incredible!

Oh, that’s cool. That is fantastic!

Kelsey covers the show for TVSeriesHub and we do some of the Nerks of the Hub podcasts for the site so I think possibly he listened to a couple of those and thought, “Okay, well, they’re not complete idiots so maybe they know what they’re doing.” (laughing)

(laughing) That’s great! Well, congratulations that’s awesome. You should feel really encouraged by that. That’s a big deal. And that’s how these things work. You know, that’s how they live and breathe, is when people get behind something. And that was the little sleeper thing that happened with the first season of Strike Back and just little by little people were like, “Hey, that stuff’s really cool. What you guys are doing over there is really fun. When is the next one? What else has happened?” And it just continued like that. And it’s people like you who get behind it and have a passion for it. That’s how it works.

Well we’re having fun with it, just doing this little podcast. Kelsey really knows what she’s doing and is very professional. She loves talking to the cast, we both do of course, but when we asked Jack about what directors we might be able to talk with and he said Bill Eagles I had a rare fangirling incident. “Okay, wait a minute, I get to talk to Bill Eagles?!!” And Kelsey is like “Who?”  While I was losing it – “Oh my God, Kelsey, you have no idea!!” So it was pretty funny. (laughter)

(laughter) That’s very cool.  It’s what it’s all about right. It is that stuff, all the stuff that makes that up the show. All the stuff that goes into it’s really interesting, especially on a show like Strike Back. You’re not in a studio for ten months, you are all over the world. And the planning and the production that goes into that is staggering. It takes a certain breed, everybody on the show has to have the same attitude.

Exactly! I think you saw it last year where they didn’t quite have it yet and it showed a bit. This year they came back with more old school Strike Back directors and more of the crew, and it’s totally back. It really is Strike Back.

Man, that’s really good to hear. I’m really glad to hear that. Wait, you’ve seen six of them already?

Yeah because you know, we’re high powered podcast producers now. (laughing)

Look at that. Look at that. That’s fantastic! (laughing)

So if you have a chance you should give it a watch.

Yeah, you know what, I will, I’m definitely going to do it. I gotta get on there and big up those guys. Maybe I can then talk to Jack and say, “Hey, what’s this about Scott & Stonebridge being alive?”…fingers crossed.

Oh wait was that on the record or off the record? (laughing)

Ha! If there’s any phone calls I’ll let you know. (laughing)

Well, this has gone long past the time we were supposed to have so I should let you go. Thank you as always! 

Yeah, you bet. And maybe we can wrap it all up at the end of the season.

That’d be awesome.

I could talk about tiny babies again, and maybe what’s next. Fingers crossed what’s next, maybe we’ll know by then.

Yeah, that’d be great wouldn’t it?

Phil: Well, thank you, Deb. Enjoy that snow and that ice. And look, I’ll see you on the interweb, but I’ll talk to you at the end of the season, okay?

Great. Thank you. And congratulations on the new baby, and I hope you’re at home when it happens.

Yeah. So do I.

All right. Talk to you later.

                                                    ____________________________________________

So, we’ll see you all back here in the spring for a bit of closure on SVU season 20 and hopefully a peak ahead at the historic season 21!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s