For Fans Only – A Chat with Philip Winchester about Family, Acting, and of course Strike Back!

Originally published on September 6, 2018.

I hope you’re ready for something really special FansofPhilip followers and visiting #Mebers from the @StrikeBackCrib, because what follows truly is!

I’ve been working on the FansofPhilip twitter page for about a year and a half now.  It’s an enormous amount of fun, and has opened up other exciting projects for me but most importantly has connected me with some truly talented and inspiring people.

I’ve been a fan of Philip Winchester since his very first movie, The Patriot, a movie I only went to see because that’s what my boyfriend wanted to see and I lost the Rock-Paper-Sissors on that one. Something that rarely happened by the way! When it ended I insisted we stick around for the credits (John hated doing that) because “the best thing about this movie was that kid and I want to see who that is.” So I wrote the name down and kept my eye out for other things “Philip Winchester” might be in. (Coincidentally, I did the same thing with Sullivan Stapleton when I saw him in Bored Olives, aka City Loop. The bromance was destiny!)

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First film role as “Young Militiaman” in the 1998 Steven Seagal movie The Patriot

Flash forward 20 years and I’ve never stopped watching, never been disappointed and in fact, continue to be more and more impressed by his talent with each new character and challenge.

Near the end of June, I decided that the page was growing comfortably, I felt good about the positive community that was happening through it and that frankly, there was nothing to lose by taking a deep breath and just listening to my own advice to “feel the fear and do it anyway.” So, I messaged Philip Winchester and asked if he’d be willing to do an interview, just for the fans, and much to my excitement, he almost immediately said yes!

A couple of weeks ago schedules finally worked out and we were able to chat by phone for a good long while and as a result, Fans of Philip brings you Part 1 of our first, and legitimately exclusive “for fans only” interview with Philip Winchester! Enjoy it, share it and let’s see how many new #FansofPhilip we can encourage to join us!
Enjoy! Deb (@debfoster27)

[Our chat took place shortly after my mentor and an important man to many, many Vets struggling with PTSD, was killed in a motorcycle accident, so the opening of this interview is referring to that.]

~~~~~~~~~~

Philip: Hello Debra?

Yes, hello! Hi, it’s so great to voice meet you!

Yes, you too. *laughs*
Before we formally get started, I would really like to thank you for the incredibly kind message you sent in regard to the loss of my mentor. I think my response might not have conveyed my appreciation very well…

No, oh no not at all.

Well…I was in the middle of reading your first message on setting up the time when that message popped up and I was actually sitting in his, his family’s, driveway about to go in. So I was caught a little off guard. I was trying to steel myself for the task at hand and then got your incredibly thoughtful message that was just pretty much perfect timing. So thank you. Thank you for your kindness.

Oh no, I just hope you’re doing okay, and that they are. They’re very fortunate to have you and I’m sorry for your loss, for everyone’s loss.

Thank you so much. I’ll pass that on. He was a big fan, it will mean a lot. I just hope I can live up to the trust he put in me, I could never come close to filling his shoes. He was such an amazing man, an amazing family. Thank you again. But, let’s get to this, to happier things! What’s up with you today? How is your day going?

Well, I’m just in the middle of cleaning the apartment here in New York and I can’t believe I have to wear headphones to do it but life is different in New York! *laughs*

Ha! Yes, very different! A little claustrophobic, not much freedom to go wild! But thanks, you’ve gotten me out of doing the dishes!

That’s great! Yeah, living in the city is definitely different than home, than Montana. It can let you know what you’re made of and what your priorities are. It is definitely different but it’s the right step and it’s the right chapter right now. We’re enjoying that and we’re getting a lot out of it as a family. I’m fortunate enough to where Megan and Charlie can come here periodically and then we can get in as much city and theater and things that we can’t do in Montana. And now, on the weekends, I’m able to go back to Montana and get a little bit of home and open spaces.

Oh, are you? That’s awesome! I intended to ask you if your family is able to be here and how much different this is from previous roles since it might demand less time. How that’s affected being able to be with your family?

Yeah. The bottom line is that I do have more time. When I spoke to Dick Wolf a couple of years ago when we were having a meeting about Chicago Justice, he said, “What do you want to do?  What’s the best case scenario?”  I said to him “Well, ideally I’d like to be a father and a husband and an actor.” And he goes, “Yeah, okay. Well, that’s possible.” It had never had crossed my mind that you could do that, you know? Because, I got Strike Back and then coming out into The Player and then going right into Justice, it was kind of five years of you just “come home, learn eight pages of dialogue, go to work…come home, do eight pages of dialogue, go to work…”

I think Strike Back had a little more downtime because we’d have stunt teams, which were just fun. And so we’d use those times to just rest a little bit, in a weird way. But when you’re on every single day, I think if you’re number one in a one-hour drama on TV, that’s all you’re doing. And you have to learn how to do that.

Sadly, I don’t think male actors are often asked how they balance fatherhood with their career; but, obviously you took some really big steps to make sure you could do that.

Yes, and part of it is the decision to have a home in Montana. It’s ironic because it sounds like there’s a lot of traveling. And there is a lot of traveling involved, but I’m able to have real quality time with my daughter and with my wife. If I have a two-day break, I go to Montana; I just make it happen. And there’s a sacrifice: there’s a financial cost, there’s a time cost, and I spend a lot of time on an airplane; but, the quality of time I have when I get there is just fantastic.

And Megan and Charlie make a sacrifice and come out here periodically. We’re able to enjoy the city, go to the theater, go to the zoo and just walk around [the city,] and it’s great. New York is a tremendous city that teaches you a lot about yourself and a lot about how you want it, you know?

*laughs* Yes it is and as an “Upstate-er” (upstate New York) I have the best of both worlds. I can go to the City whenever I want and then come home to the mountains and dairy farm land. It’s perfect.

Right and just get that respite and look out on that landscape and just kind of breathe deep. You know, it makes a difference.

Oh, it sure does. Especially right now, it’s definitely making a difference for me.

Yeah, absolutely.

I have to tell you how much I appreciate that you’re doing this just for the Fan’s page and keeping it more general for them versus the usual promotionally focused quick interview. You agreed so quickly and it’s not something that most people would normally do. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am.

Oh, it’s just incredible. You do a lot of work. As you can tell, I’m terrible at best when it comes to Twitter and social media! *laughs* and that’s one of those choices when, if I have time at home, I put my phone on the table and I’m spending that time with my wife and my daughter. That’s just a decision I made a long time ago. I get berated for that sometimes but, it’s the choice I’ve made. If it comes down to the job or that, I’ll figure it out and I’ll make it work. But, right now, I choose my family and I choose to have free time for that space.

Oh, yeah, that’s absolutely the best choice to make. And it’s kind of funny we (myself and @nolenag3) started a Strike Back page for the new cast…

Oh that’s great!

Yeah, those guys (Dan Macpherson, Alin Sumarwata and Warren Brown) are the best! They’re so fun!  But they are just “a little” more into social media than you are! *laughs* But we joke about knowing exactly when to expect a tweet from you – “Okay, it’s 10:00pm on Thursday. Here comes a tweet from Philip.”

Yeah, that’s right! *laughs…a lot!* This will be it, everyone!

“So get ready to retweet it!” *laughs* Thank you for noticing how much work goes into it.  When I decide I want to do something, I really do it!  It’s incredibly nice that you’ve noticed.

I definitely do, Debra. It’s perfect.

Thank you so much!  Although I write for @TVSeriesHub and will take over covering SVU this season, I do *this* as a fan. And I am a longtime fan of yours. I was very fortunate to see you in the Trevor Nunn King Lear in New York, which was the second time I saw you on stage.  I don’t know if you caught actor Charlie de Melo’s Instagram post about you that we re-tweeted a few days ago? He’s in “EastEnders” and “Coronation Street.” He posted that you were his inspiration for becoming an actor when he saw you in that same production of “Lear?”

I didn’t know that. No, I didn’t see that. That’s amazing! I’ll have to look for that. I’ll have to dig around and look for that. That’s really cool!

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Isn’t that great? Well, it was a remarkable performance. I was working in a theatre company at the time and we were offered tickets. Ian McKellen was obviously the center of the performance as Lear but I actually got really excited and asked the woman “you mean the production with Philip Winchester?!!”  As if Ian McKellen was second billing, yikes! So, you had a fan club there that evening.

That’s very funny! Yeah, it was at BAM, wasn’t it? We were at the Brooklyn Academy there.

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As Edmund in Tevor Nunn’s production of  Shakespeare’s King Lear

Yes, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Well, that’s great! It’s funny, Ian is doing Lear again and it’s been 10 years. And I’ve kind of picked up bits and pieces on the Internet about it. One of the things that always blew me away about Ian was his ability to tell a story and just make you feel like the most important person in the room. And I don’t know if you read about what happened the other night, but he injured himself on the way to the theater. Instead of canceling, well they did cancel the show, but Ian sat on the stage and took questions from the audience for over two hours.

I mean he’s such a marvelous example of what it is that makes this business great. It’s about telling stories and about asking people to forget about their problems in their life for a little bit and taking them on a little journey. He couldn’t do it with Shakespeare that night, but he was allowed to do it by being himself. I just thought that was so cool. And I remember seeing that 10 years ago with Ian and thinking, “Gosh, what a remarkable person this guy is.”

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Injured Ian McKellen turns tragedy into comedy

The entire performance was fabulous ten years ago but wow, the audience that night got something that no one else will ever experience!

I miss it, you know? I often have conversations with Megan. I think to myself, “Gosh, I wonder if I could go do some theater in my off time maybe? Maybe I could work these certain days and do some theater in New York?” But it’s just so all-consuming. And with a family now, to do a traveling show like that? I didn’t know it at the time; it really was such a one-off.  I’m so grateful that it happened when it did.

Exactly, you have to be able to commit yourself to that lifestyle of a traveling show. It’s 24/7 and, you know, you really can’t do it without being all-in. That’s my next question actually, if you have plans to do any stage work maybe after “SVU?  If it’s part of your future plans?

It’s sort of difficult to reach too far in the future because of SVU and its longevity. I mean, who knows? Anything can happen on TV with the writers and the higher-ups. Ideally, I would like to stay on the show until we get the record, which is next year. So that’s season 21 which would be through 2019, I believe.

I often talk to friends about doing a little theater in Montana. I grew up with a company called Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and a wonderful director named Joel Jahnke, who started that. I don’t know if I would necessarily do Shakespeare in the Parks, but I’ve talked with Joel about the possibility of doing a really streamlined version of Hamlet and do it in the most random places in Montana. Could we pick some closed-down dilapidated buildings in, like, Pony, Montana?  And to do the show, keep it real dirty and real gritty and just to the point.

But it’s a bigger undertaking than that. I think the initial vision is, of course we could do that. Learn the show, throw some lights up, get some people involved and invite whoever wants to come. But man, again, with my daughter and with my wife, there’s a real sweet spot right now in her age and how she’s growing up and I don’t want to miss it. I really don’t. And so that two months that we get between seasons is just “Well, I guess I’m just going to be a dad and a husband.” And that’s okay, but the desire is definitely there.

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Does it surprise anyone at all in the slightest that being a father is his number one priority?

So I think we’ll have to wait and see what happens after SVU. And really, that’s not my decision when I go. I don’t think that’s my decision. That’s in the executives’ hands, and in Dick Wolf’s hands and the show. Of course I’m trying to get some other things off the ground with writer and director friends of mine.

MJ Bassett, who I worked with on Strike Back for years and who I worked with on Solomon Kane before that, she’s excited about the possibility of putting together some ideas that we’ve been rolling around for years. And, again, I’ve spent a lot of time, you know, over the course of this next year, if we could put something together that we really liked and pitch it to  NBC or Cinemax and see if we can get someone to buy it, that would be great!
…and then finally five years from now, you can start working on it. *laughs*

*Laughs* Yeah, exactly, exactly! But right now, it would be disingenuous of me to say that I’m not totally focused on SVU because I am. And what’s great about this year is I’m not starting from scratch. I don’t feel like the new kid. I don’t feel like it’s someone else’s playground anymore. I’m able to come in and relate to Mariska and Ice and Peter and Kelly and the crew and I feel like it’s home.  That’s a really good feeling.

That IS a good feeling, when it finally feels like it’s really your own project. Do you like the direction that they’ve taken Stone in thus far this season? If you’re allowed to comment on that?

Yes. I can’t tell anybody how we’re coming out in this new season but, certainly the entrance that they gave me last year was such a delicious storyline. Well, the fans were pissed off but I think it was a situation of “What do you mean you’re getting rid of Barba and what do you mean…?” So for me as an actor, there really wasn’t anywhere else to go but up! *laughs* This ball-busting lawyer who comes in and goes, “Look, I don’t care what you think. I’m going to do it this way because it’s the right way to do it.” And the words were very strong so that gave me something to lean on as I sort of elbowed my way in and said, “Uh guys, it’s really great to be here. I’m sorry it looks like this, but this is the character I’m playing.”

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Michael Chernuchin and Julie Martin on the show, who are the two main writers and show runner producers on SVU, they gave me such great material to feel safe behind, because I felt really vulnerable. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I’m working with…” First of all, Mariska (Hargitay) is just, she’s a legend!  Raul (Esparza) did such an incredible job as the assistant district attorney. Ice has been on the show just as long as Mariska. And Kelly (Giddish) and Peter (Scanavino) have done a phenomenal job, their onscreen presence together is really phenomenal. I thought, “Man, here I am just coming in, this new guy, stepping on toes.” *laughs* But the writing allowed me the freedom to be brave about stuff and about decisions.  I’m grateful to Julie and I’m grateful to Michael Chernuchin for that.

So here we are in your second year…

So here we are in the second year and the crew and the cast has welcomed me and I feel like its home which is really fun, because then you can start to take some chances. And I like it, the direction of the character is great because I can say Peter Stone’s very put together in the courtroom and in front of his colleagues; but, where we ended last year sort of suggested that may not be where we pick up this season. It certainly isn’t. And that’s a great thing for an actor.

*laughs*  I think it was more than a “suggestion.” I mean, he’s kind of a broken shell of a man at this point.

 Yeah, that’s right! *laughs*

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The final scene of SVU19 Remember Me, Too.

I know what you mean about the fan base. Wow. I was actually a bit shocked but I’m glad to see that the negativity has really toned down and most people have accepted that Raul wanted to leave.

*laughs* Yeah, but I think it’s wonderful.  It reminds me as an actor how passionate people get about their shows and about the people. I heard someone say once years ago, and I steel it all the time, that television is such a personal medium because the audience asks us into their homes. It’s not like when you go to the cinema and you step into another building, it’s a foreign place, the different seats, the different chairs, and everything’s different. But your home is a sacred place. And when you flip that television on and you invite people in by the programs that you select, it’s personal. So people have personal feelings about these characters in their shows. And I think that that was a huge reminder of that: people are vested in these characters and they don’t want to see change right now. But what a great way to come in because there was only one way to go, hopefully!  *laughs*

Seriously! In Chicago, Peter was very put together, confident, accomplished. Sure, we knew he had his daddy issues and they were an important part of him, but they were really secondary as far as the story flow of Chicago Justice. But now, wow, even physically he’s changed. My perception of your acting is that you’ve been intentional about bringing a different physicality to every character that we see from you. Peter’s physicality definitely changed from Justice moving through the SVU episodes. Was that an intentional decision or was it just a natural outcome of the material that you’re weren’t necessarily aware of?

Yes. A lot of the time with the physicality stuff that I choose to do, it really IS the words. The text kind of dictates everything that you do as an actor. And with Peter, I thought, “Gosh, there was some loosening up that needed to be done,” I felt, and there was some finding his feet. What I liked about the beginning of the season was he was…I think the physicality was a little off-putting and a little bit like, “Look, I’m gonna do my job and I’m gonna walk away.” And as we sort of saw that eroding, the goal was to see that eroding until we eventually got to the crescendo which was him needing Benson and needing this new family, rather than just surviving that new family.

Coming into this season, the goal was to very much have the physicality mimic the words. These guys need each other and they’re learning from each other constantly. They’re all the best at what they do and they need each other to be the best at what they do all the time. So they trust each other. And then that changes how you interact with each other. So yeah.

Although the physicality in terms of me getting out and getting into the gym and beefing up, that’s not as imperative as it has been for basically the rest of my career. Part of who I think Peter Stone is, is you know he was a baseball player. He blew out his arm and so he then fell back on being a lawyer and following in his dad’s footsteps. So in my head, I’m like, “Okay, this guy probably still goes to the gym four times a week at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, runs, maybe throws a few weights around and then goes to the office.” So that’s kind of my approach to Peter is that he still does that, so I have to do that.

And you really can’t fake that! *laughs* But, that’s coming from the person who’s skipped three workouts this week.

*laughs* Yeah, but hey, sometimes those weeks happen and that’s okay. You gotta cut yourself the slack and then just get back to it.

Yup, exactly. I keep saying that. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. *laughs*

Yeah, exactly!

You talked about Joel Jankhe, the director in Montana who had a pretty big influence on you. And obviously MJ, (MJ Bassett), she’s been a very big influence on you. Would you say they are the most influential directors you’ve worked with and what is it in a director that you’re really hoping for?

Kind of like in life, communication is what it boils down to. With Joel Jahnke growing up, I watched how he nurtured actors and how he took care of them. But he did it in a way that he didn’t baby them. He said “You gotta show me what you got,” or, “Show me what this is,” or, “Show me what that decision is.” And I loved that about him. And then when I left Montana, I started meeting other directors in London and around the world as they came onto the different shows that I was fortunate enough to do.

MJ and I have a shorthand because of the amount of hours we’ve worked together. So when she and I work together, there’s just a trust.  We can just look at each other and say, “Yeah, I get it. I know what that means. I know what you want. Let’s just try and do it.” That shorthand comes from hours and hours and hours in the driver’s seat together. And it’s trust and that’s just a beautiful thing.

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MJ Bassett with “The Boys”

That’s why you see actors constantly working with the same directors because you don’t have to weed through all the “Did you mean this? Did you mean that? Are you okay with me? Are you happy with that?” MJ and I can look at each other and she can say, “That wasn’t very good. Do it again.” And I can go “But what do you mean it wasn’t very good?” *laughs* We can be very honest with each other. So the drive to do something in the future together is there because that stuff, that just goes without saying, it’s going be okay. So let’s find good material and let’s really hammer something out together.

Also, we both love the challenge of certain types of material. With MJ, there was never a question of whether we were going to get dirty and get our asses kicked. That was definitely going to happen! It was just how we could make it look as brilliant as possible in a short amount of time with no money, because that was usually the case on Strike Back. And usually the case in the eleventh hour on network shows like The Player. 

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Stonebridge most definitely got his ass kicked in MJ Bassett’s first unit directorial debut on Strike Back Vengeance, block 4.
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Because getting hit by an RPG and beat down by Matlock isn’t quite enough trauma!

Or even Solomon Kane, I mean, they walked in and turned the lights off at one point and said, “All right, you’re done.” And that was the movie. They were just out of money. So, I really like working with directors who aren’t precious, who are serious about the work and serious about getting it done.
I think that is one of the reasons I stayed in television, I just really dig that vibe.  I dig the fact that it’s fast. It is fairly brutal. But you’re just churning through material. And it’s exciting because there’s something always coming up the next day. There’s something, always. “You need to get this shot, you need to get that or it’s not going to get done.” “You have 46 minutes in this episode or 42 minutes and we’re five short. What are we going to do?”

So there’s always this community team building exercise happening in television. If you’re working with a good crew and a good director and a good cast then everyone has the show’s best interest in mind.  When that happens, because your director is leading from the front and your cast is leading from the front, really great things can happen. Like Strike Back, you know?

Everyone was surprised (by Strike Back). It was a total accident. I mean, Sully and I got thrown together – it was chalk and cheese. We really saw things very differently an awful lot of the time, but it really helped the characters. Dan Percival (the director of Blocks 1 and 5 of Strike Back Project Dawn) started that boat and then the show just kind of took off and became its own thing.  It was because we all went, “Hey, we can have a lot of fun and make a really kick-ass show right now. Let’s do that. Let’s keep going with this.”

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Chalk and Cheese? Sounds brilliant!

Yes! That’s exactly the type of theater environment that I’ve been lucky to work in. How do we take no money and no time and turn it into something fantastic that people would travel all the way from NYC for? And you’re right, the only way you do that is through amazing collaboration where everyone is willing to really put it out there, be vulnerable and take those risks. I think in Strike Back you can really see that energy. You can see those moments when you could have played it safe, average, but had the commitment to decide “Okay, we can do this a little bit better. Let’s take it up a notch here.” Which meant the show just builds and builds and builds, episode by episode, season by season.

It does. And a part of that was incredible production. Kary Antholis, who was the head of drama over at HBO at that time (now President of HBO Miniseries and also an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker), I remember him coming to Cape Town at the beginning of the second season and taking Sully and me to dinner. He asked us “What worked and what didn’t work last year?”  And we said, “Well, you know, it was a lot of fun. It’s great to be back. But, I guess, you know, if we could just have a little more organization? Things were just a little chaotic and things are like this… “

And he just looked at us and said, “I’m not changing anything because what you did on-camera is pure gold. I’m not changing anything.” *laughs* So, there was this intentional chaos that gets captured in the camera and captured in the relationship. And sometimes that can tear a show apart but sometimes it can make the show better.  I think we lucked out and had people who cared enough about the show to go “Okay, this is how it’s going to be. Well, let’s use it. Let’s use it to our advantage.” So yeah, there can be smart production as well and that stuff can work.

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“I’m not changing anything because what you did on-camera is pure gold” ~ Kary Antholis, HBO

Well, it definitely mirrors the energy of what those characters were going through so… it may not be fun all the time, but it’s only appropriate that you suffer a bit of that environment to create that vibe. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but my sense of you as an actor is that you really are taking in so much of what’s going on around you at all times. You’re very aware of everything that goes into the scene – “Here’s exactly what the camera guy’s aiming for…Here’s what should be going on over there,” etc.  You’ve always got a big picture view of what you’re doing, what’s happening?

Yeah, that’s very observant. I remember, Rhashan Stone was one of the actors who was on Strike Back with us. He was fantastic! He played Sinclair. And one day, we were all at dinner and he sort of broke down who each person was in the cast. One of the things he said about me was, “You see everything kind of finished. You see a big picture and you see that there’s just a feeling of what works and what doesn’t work.  Sometimes you can’t put your finger on it, but you know if it works or not.”

And I’ve been trying to hone that down over the years. Trying to boil it down and seeing if I could put my finger on it. But yeah, that is kind of how I work. I can do something and go, “Yeah, I missed that.” And if you’re working with great people, and if you’re confident with the people you’re working with like directors and other actors, they can call you out on it too. And I really like that. I equally like taking chances so then if something really does work, you go, “Oh my gosh! Did we get it?!  Can we move on?” *laughs*

So, yeah I do. That stuff matters to me. The vibe on set matters to me. The general morale is an important factor when you’re doing this because we’re giving all, and not just the actors but the crew too. They’re there every day. They’re giving their lives to these things and in the meantime, your kids are growing up and your families are doing things.

People always ask me, “What do you think the biggest sacrifice of being a working actor is?” And I say without a doubt, relationships. It’s the biggest sacrifice.  I’ve got friends all over the world now, but you see them very rarely. Maybe in that hiatus period if you choose not to do a job, you can get on a plane and travel around and see your friends. These are champagne problems, but they’re real.  You pay a cost and the cost is definitely relational.

Yes and especially when, like yourself, you’re someone who really wants and needs that downtime with family to reenergize. So knowing those two things about yourself is directing something you see yourself doing?  Would you like to get involved behind the camera, direct or produce?

I think a knee jerk answer would be, yes, I’d like to direct. But they put in just as much time as everybody else. I don’t think it would give me any more of a break. That could give me a break from the material, learning lines and things like that but then you’d be prepping camera shots and storyboards and talking to people about locations. There are a lot of other things that go into your “free time.” I like the idea of working really hand in hand with other actors. That really appeals to me.

That’s one of the things that I take from the directors that I admire so much. Alex Chapple on SVU is our lead director and we have a great director named Fred Berner who came over to Justice and worked with us. One of the things I see with them is this ability to really care about what they’re going to get, but the performance is always first. And the actors are always first. It’s not in a selfish way that I want that from my director, but its like, “Yeah, if we’re not going believe what these people are saying, then nothing else matters.” It doesn’t matter how pretty the shot is or what’s going on in the background. We have to get there first. And so nurturing that with other actors, it appeals to me. I’m not sure in actuality what it’s going to look like because, like I said earlier, with television there’s a clock always ticking and taking that time is something that just doesn’t happen.

Since we’re focused on influencers, I’m going to switch back to family a little bit here. You’ve talked in the past that your dad being an actor and director has been a big influence on you. What do you think is the most important lesson he’s taught you?

Great question. What was the most important lesson that I learned from my father?

So far…

Yeah, exactly, right? *laughs*  When I was really young, my mom was working nights in a nursing home and my father was studying at Montana State University. You know, he was getting a drama degree. And he was also washing dishes at a local restaurant to make ends meet and we were living in a trailer behind a truck stop in Montana. But, I never wanted for anything.  I never felt like we were less or anything like that. And really, the biggest lessons that I got from my mom and dad, my dad in particular, looking back when I was really young, I just never saw him buckle to keeping up with the Joneses or fret about what we had and didn’t have.

He was a kind, hardworking guy who loved his wife, loved his family first and foremost, and did what needed to get done. He didn’t let the rest of the world dictate how happy he was. And I see that in him still. I see this man who does jobs that he likes to do. He cares about his friendships and cares about his family and cares about his wife. And that’s it. It’s that simple to him.

And I marvel at that about my father. I marvel at how simple he manages to keep his life. I envy it sometimes because you can get… things can get very complicated very quickly if you allow them to. If you choose to not be happy with certain situations or choose to see the glass as half empty instead of half full. And my dad just doesn’t do that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do that. It’s just his consistency of living that is something I marvel at, constantly. And I remember that from a young age and still, to this day, he does that.

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Do you think that’s something that you’ve been able to achieve?

It’s something that I admire and I strive to do, yeah for sure. Then I get wrapped up in, “I need to get this flight and I need to get done with work at this certain time so I can get on that flight and get in the car and go to the airport and get back to Montana and then I’ll have 24 hours and what are we going to fit into 24 hours?”

But then I think, “You know what? If you get in the car and if you get to the airport and if you get on a plane and get home…then just be – just sit, just be.”

One of the things my dad still does is he just calls up and he says, “Hey, I’m in town.  Do you wanna grab a beer? Do you wanna just grab lunch?” And there’s no agenda. He’s always just checking in. “Do you wanna play golf? You wanna play nine holes? You wanna do this?” And it’s always things that are chill.

Odd things come up like, “I need help doing this or help doing that.” And, of course, you’re family, so you help out. But it’s always about that he just wants to hang out. So when I look at the cost on relationships, because of the job, I think, “Yeah man, 99% of life is showing up. Just show up and just be with the people you love. You know, they don’t have to have an agenda, you don’t have to have a plan to show up.”

Exactly! It all just happens being together. You really don’t have to have a plan to be family, just love each other.

Right! Just hang out and see what comes out of it.

Well, speaking from the fan page administrator point of view, because I tend to put stuff like that up on the fan page, it’s nice to know that we think along the same lines.

No, it’s true. It’s true.

love relentlessly
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That brings us to the end of Part One, the midway point of our interview with Philip Winchester!  This was originally intended to be published as one piece but there was simply too much material to continue with that plan. Part Two will be posted a week from today, on Thursday, September 13.

Make sure you’ve set your reminders and DVRs for the record-tying Season 20 premiere of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit which is happening on Thursday, September 27 at 9/8c on NBC! And as always, be ready to live tweet along with us!  ~ Deb (@debfoster27)

  
Special thanks to:
Emily from United Talent Agency (UTA)
Kelsey Nolan (@nolenag03) for her assistance and her unwavering 4-ness!
Very special thanks to Dan Macpherson for the spark.

 

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