Back in Action – Philip Winchester is Right Where He Wants to Be

Welcome to the next in our series of chats Philip. When we originally scheduled this catch-up Philip expected that he would have just finished doing dialogue recording for Rogue and have seen a cut of the movie. Unfortunately, ADR ran into some scheduling conflicts for those involved, as so often happens, which put him right in the middle of filming his next project, which we also discuss. As a result, his ADR for Rogue was rescheduled for later in February so he has not yet seen a cut of the film.

We’ll have the opportunity to follow up on Rogue once that happens but he was able to answer a few of your questions about it. As for when to expect its release and where, that is still a work-in-progress.

As with previous pieces, our catch-up is presented with minimal editing in transcript form. I hope you enjoy it and if it spurs any questions, be sure to send them in.

____________________________________________________________________________________ –

How were your holidays?

My holidays were good, a little more peaceful than usual. We stayed home. We didn’t have many people from out of town in Bozeman this year, which usually is not the case. We usually have my wife’s brother and sister-in-law and their kids come over and stay with us. But this year, it was just family and it was really nice, really peaceful.

That’s sort of been the theme since last year, being home really just enjoying the peace. It’s amazing. We can enjoy the peace, just sitting in it and not worrying about the future as much as we can. It’s been really nice.

It’s been punctuated by little things – projects like Rogue, and I’m going off in a couple a weeks actually taking my whole family to Hawaii. Paul Lacovara and I are going to team up and do this little short, just to have some fun. These punctuations of work have been really helpful creatively, but also just to keep the juices flowing and keep things in line. It’s been actually really great.

I had a really great talk with my wife yesterday. We sort of admitted to each other that this is such a good time. It’s easy to say to yourself, “I work hard so that I can enjoy my life when I’m not working.” That’s never the case, right?  Like, “your last job is your last job”, and you’re never working again, all these lies that you unfortunately digest as a creative or as a self-employed person. Hopefully they’re not true. You do everything in your power to work hard to prevent them from being truth. You know what I mean?

As a self-employed person I certainly do.                        

 I guess the truth is, you don’t know; but, the markers don’t indicate that being true. So, you just hunker down and enjoy that space and time, being a dad, being a husband. We talked about this before. This is where it’s at and this is the time to do it.

Well you can certainly see how much more relaxed you look in the family pictures your photographer released.

Photo: Photographer Danielle Lopez @daniellelopezphoto

That’s right! She did put out some of those. They’re amazing, she did a great job. It really has been an active decision to sit in this, right? You have to tell yourself, I still have my schedule. I get up Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I’m at the gym by 5:15. I get a good workout in, a good soak in the sauna and I’m home by the time the girls get up at 7:00. So that’s my time done, and now it’s time for my family.

And that’s good, maintaining those disciplines in the day. Wednesday and the weekends are free days so we’ve been skiing and enjoying the reasons we live in Montana. When I’m working, I just don’t have the freedom to do that. So we’re really taking advantage of it and it’s really paying off in the “peace” area life, you know?  You want to fill that vault as much as you can, before the next go around. Before the bell gets rung and you’re in the ring again. So yeah, it’s good times, for sure.

That’s really good to hear. Some people might be nervous about the down time but we’ve talked about that before. I was pretty sure that you’re right where you want to be right now.

Yeah, it really is. Sure, everything’s got a little bit of a double edge to it because obviously I want to work; I really enjoy my work. But I’m also really seeing the levels to being with family that start to reveal themselves the more time you have together and the more time you allow yourself to enjoy it. That’s been incredible.

I’ve had more time with Jaymes than I had with Charlie at this stage in her life, because I was doing Player then. I was never home, so Charlie and I hung out on the weekends. But this time, I know who Jaymes is and we’ve got a real relationship.

Charlie and I are doing great! She’s into chapter books now so we’re going through the Roald Dahl anthology. We’re onto BFG now. We did Fantastic Mr. Fox and Matilda and she is loving it! So this is the meat of it, right? We’re in it right now, we can enjoy it and it’s so good.

Are you picking up on developments in Jaymes that you realize now you missed with Charlie?

Yeah, I’m just noticing her in a sort of holistic sense. I see who she is, rather than just “I’m a dad.” With Charlie I realize that I really wanted to be there. I wanted to get to know her, but the truth was that I didn’t. I desperately fought for those moments. And my wife fought for those moments. Megan would drive Charlie up to Santa Clarita from Los Angeles every couple days. I’d see her for the half an hour lunch break that we’d get. And I’d give her smoodges and hang out with her for half an hour, and then she’d drive back to L.A.

Now, I can just hang out. There’s moments throughout the day, because Charlie’s in preschool, I’ll have alone time with Jaymes and we just hang out. She started walking the other day with me, and she’s started doing more things. It’s amazing to be available for that. You don’t get it back, right?

Photo: Photographer Danielle Lopez @daniellelopezphoto

Exactly, those moments only happen once.

It’s not right or wrong because you’ve got to pay your taxes, pay your bills, put bread on the table; but it’s really amazing to be around for it too.

You can see a video but it’s not the same.

It’s not the same, right? We are being really purposeful with our time. We sit down every evening and have a meal as a family. Saturdays are movie nights. Charlie, Megan and I have gone through the entire Our Planet series. Well, that blew all our minds! [laughing]

So that’s been the Saturday night – Our Planet, we watched Klaus over Christmas, as we talked about. [laughing] I think Charlie wants to watch the Raold Dahl movies, Matilda now that we’ve read it and Fantastic Mr. Fox, since we’ve read that. I’m to going get her watching some Wes Anderson. [laughing]

Oh Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my very favorite movies!

It’s so good, isn’t it? Oh, my goodness, so good!

It’s brilliant. It is brilliant!

There are just these punctuations of real family life that we’ve made room for. We have space for it and we have time for it. But you have to be purposeful. Because otherwise, you know… well, I speak for myself. One of my biggest flaws is just busywork. I’ll busywork myself into the night and then into bed. I’ll find jobs around the house, bits and pieces that need done.

I’ll try and drum up some interest in this script or that thing. And it’s like, you know what? This is not­­ what that time’s about. So be purposeful in the time that you allow each day for work and then be done, and then be a dad, be a husband. And man, that takes practice Deb. [laughing]

It takes discipline, it really does.

It does. So we’re enjoying the fruits of that, those boundaries. It’s really good. It’s really good. It also brings up a lot of stuff. So you’re confronting some demons along the way, but that’s okay. That’s part of it, right?

Oh, like what?

Who you are as a person, what you might rather be doing. You’ve got to confront some of that stuff – your own selfishness, your own crap. That’s been really good for us to walk into the free time that we have. Because it’s funny, right? It’s sort of the ideal thing. That’s what you want.

You work hard so that you can have free time. But then you don’t enjoy your free time because you want to be back at work. And it’s this cycle of life that just eats itself. So you’re never happy, right? Well, I can’t live like that. I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want my family to live like that.

So we’ve set up these boundaries and we’re living right now in a way that is really great; and, we’re really fortunate to be able to do it. We squirreled away for the last few years, through Chicago Justice and SVU so we’re able to ride the storm comfortably and responsibly and that’s a huge blessing.

Yes, it really is, few people have that cushion.

Yeah, man.

And it’s blessing from the fruits of your labor. You worked hard for that.

Well that’s a good way to put it. I was talking to a buddy the other day. He’s a ceramic artist in town. We were talking about going skiing and I think buying skis came up. I was like, “Yeah well, easy come, easy go.” He confronted me on it – it’s not “easy come, easy go.” He’s like, “That’s not true, man. I work my ass off for my money.” I remember thinking to myself, “wow, that’s so good.” That’s so much more self-respect in a comment like that.


It’s not “easy come, easy go.” I’ve sacrificed my time, my family… I’ve sacrificed a lot for what we have in the bank right now. It was earned through blood, sweat and tears and we’re going be smart with how that is used, as smart as we can be.

So I love that. I love that he said that to me and that I had the space and the wherewithal to hear it.

People sometimes think that work in the arts isn’t necessarily “work.” They can undervalue the time, energy and talent that go into it. It’s no different from any other job or business. Don’t sell yourself short. You worked hard on that for many hours. Price it accordingly.

It’s interesting. I think that, speaking for myself, it’s only come with age and walking into each of these shows and truthfully, conversations that we’ve had in the past. Talking about being more of an introvert, and how the cost of work for me, personally, is pretty extreme.

As much as I enjoy it, I have to put so much into it that the cost is pretty big. So learning that and looking towards the future, the next project, and deciding this is worth it. Or this isn’t worth it right now. Those are things that only come with age, I’m afraid. And getting hurt and getting up and brushing off and going, “okay, I’m willing to do that again but how do I want to do it differently this time?”

That’s right, that’s how you do it.

Again, it’s amazing that we have the space to do that. A lot of this time has been that and we’re still in it. Some days are easier than others, and it’s like anything, one day at a time, right? [laughing] Like I’ve said before, I’m not worried about a week; I’m actually worried about today. A week is too much.

I’m so glad that you’re having a good time, and you’re finally getting to relax, really relax. Let’s talk about Rogue as much as we can anyway. I know you haven’t seen a cut yet as we’d planned but there were some fan questions that you might still be able to answer.

Actually a lot of people were interested in how you felt being back in South Africa. Several people asked that question and were really happy to see you were returning.  So how was it?

It was wonderful. I was a little apprehensive about going back to Johannesburg because my experience in Johannesburg was pretty stark and rough last time. We shot in some really, to be frank, horrible places. And even discussions I had with friends I saw again this time in Johannesburg, were “Man, do you remember…?” And they were like, “Yeah that was brutal. Even by our standards, that’s brutal.”[chuckling] So I didn’t feel like I was insulting. I never wanted to come across like I was insulting Johannesburg or the people or what it is as a city.

And certainly what happened to me this time was the antithesis of that. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it.

Oh, that’s great!

I went really open hands. I said, “I’m going to hang out with a few friends of mine. MJ Basset, Paul Hornsby, get reintroduced to Izzy Basset, hang out and get to know her better.” And also it’s in Africa, bonus!

Then there’s a whole group of new actors and artists that I want to work with. Making a movie, that’s sort of secondary to being with these people who I love. [chuckling] So I went, not with low expectations, but being honest that I was going to hang out with my friends and make a movie in my spare time, right? [chuckling]

MJ Bassett, Isabel Bassett and Philp in SA. photo: MJ Bassett instragram @emjaybassett

And what came of that was really just a lot of peace. There were parts of the puzzle that weren’t in place on the production side of things, and bits and pieces, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t there to bully that stuff around. I wasn’t there to bulldog it and make my point. If the movie got made, the movie got made – great!

I was there to hang out with MJ and Paul and Izzy. That’s what I was looking for. And in the process of that, I met some incredible people. It’s funny because they were people who my path had crossed with years ago. Like Kenneth Fok, who plays my best friend in Rogue. We were kind of the Scott and Stonebridge in Rogue right? He was on the first season of Strike Back.” [Fok played sh*t hole owner and fight fixer “Ong” in episode 1 of Project Dawn.]

Kenneth Fok as Ong in Strike Back: Project Dawn photo: Cinemax

But because Strike Back was so intense and so heads down, as I’m sure you’ve been reminded of by having conversations with the team from the recent seasons, it’s sort of survival. You kind of get those blinders on.

There’s a few moments in the day when you can pop up and look around and think, “Okay, this is really pretty, a neat location. I can’t believe I’m here… Oh, oh, we’re rolling again.” [laughing] Boom, you’re back into it. That’s just the way it is. But this job, it was a totally different vibe.

So going back to South Africa, I felt like I was going home. It was marvelous. It was peaceful. It’s still Jo’burg. It’s a major city. There’s major crime there. Also, like other parts of Africa, it’s just incredible. And it gets in your blood. And the people, they are like nowhere else on the earth. They’re marvelous. And so I walked back into that, little things like mannerisms and the language, and I just thought, “Oh, I’m home. This is so good.”

It was really neat because it happened to me on the flight out. It’s like a 14-hour flight from Atlanta. On the flight as we were flying south down the continent towards Jozi, I thought, “Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve been back here.” A lot of my formative years after drama school, career formative years, so after those adolescent years of school, and falling in love and figuring out life, and becoming an adult, these were career formative years were in South Africa. So there was something really settling about getting off that plane and knowing that airport.

Sydney Masatenk who was my driver from Strike Back met me at the airport. We just wept. We wept in each other’s arms, because he’s like a brother to me. Deb, it was amazing. It was amazing!

I think making the space for it to be whatever it was going to be, allowed it to be pretty much just brilliant. Because even the shit rolled down hill, you know what I mean? [laughing]

“Whatever; it is what it is. We’ll figure it out. Or we won’t. And I will still have had a great time and I’m going home.” You know what I mean? [chuckling] It didn’t matter. So yeah, it was absolutely peaceful and brilliant.

Now the next step is I want to get Megan and my girls back out there. That nostalgia and that peace and that joy of what South Africa represents, I want Megan to go back to it because she is the other half of that for me. And I want my girls to learn that about their parents and to experience it for themselves.

Aww, well let’s get you a longer job there and make that happen! [both laughing] So tell us more of what the movie is about. I know the post production was juggled a bit so you haven’t seen a cut but what can you tell us about the plot of the movie, and the character you play?

The plot of the movie in a nutshell, it is a team of special forces soldiers, the best in their field, are put together to do a “snatch and grab.” Of course it goes horribly wrong, because without drama, things aren’t interesting. [laughing] So this team gets put into impending peril ─ they lose part of their team, they lose their exfil, their helicopter gets shot down. They have to run off into the jungle, hunker down and try and survive the evening, while the bad guys are after them, right?

They find what looks to be a hunting farm in the middle of the woods and they hunker down for the night. Of course, little do they know that at this farm is a rogue lion that has killed the people who lived on the farm before. So now the team is fighting Mother Nature while they’re waiting for the bad guys to come to fight them as well. They’re running out of ammo, they’re injured, they’ve used all their resources and they’re having to reach really deep. So it’s basically it’s the lead up into that night, and then surviving that night.  It’s surviving the elements, each other, the bad guys and this rogue lion.

Woah! Not what I imagined at all! [laughing]

It’s great; it’s as crazy and as fun as it sounds! I play Joey Kasinski, an ex-Marine sniper. So I got to play an American for something. [laughing] He’s a pain in the ass; he’s kind of a Scott character. He’s a little looser. He was fun for me because he was sort of Scott meets Alex Kane. You know what I mean? He’s not as put together as Stonebridge by any stretch of the imagination, a lot of fun, really cheeky. [laughing]

So we just had a lot of fun playing this guy and then playing around with these characters and discovering on-the-go. And he gets his ass handed to him. [both laughing] Of course he did, It’s an MJ Bassett movie. When I told her I would like to do this, she was like, “Oh, good. I have some ideas.” I’m like, “I’m sure you do. I’m. Sure. You. Do. Yep. [both laughing]

Repost from MJ Bassett

So it was a ton of fun. You know, we got to improv, we got to do a little bit of the recapping the military stuff. A lot of the people coming onto this, they had that military background. Most of the cast was South African, so they had that with the stuff they’ve been doing. We just had a gas.

We had five weeks. A week and a half of it was all that build up ─ so storming the camps to do the snatch and grab. The snatch and grab goes wrong. We got to get to the exfil. The exfil gets blown out of the sky, we got to jump. We got to run, jump and hide from these baddies, and then night falls. So that was the first week of filming.

Then it was four weeks of night shoots. So on top of the challenge of what the script was requiring of us, it was night shoots. Actually I remember doing night shoots season two of Strike Back and just getting thumped. This was a little better than that. The schedule was a little looser for us to recover from big days. And Megan Fox, to be honest with you, she bore the brunt of it. I mean she did a great job, but she had most of the heavy lifting. So she was in every day. But a lot of us could get a few hours more here or there, or go home a little bit early here or there.

And don’t forget, it was summer (in South Africa) so the nights were really short. We were really pounding through material. But we shot at this incredible game reserve where there were wild zebra, giraffes, and wildebeests. I don’t think there were hyenas, but there were jackals, and honey badgers and all sorts of insects.

So the sun would go down, and a rhino beetle would land on your webbing. And this is why Africa is amazing, right? Because you’re in it, we were in the bush. And oh God, it was just wonderful! We got to really inhabit these characters and live with them and joke around.

And everyone in the movie is fucking younger than me and I realized I’m old. [laughing, both of us, really hard!] It’s like, when did that shit happen? The last time I was in Africa, I was the youngest guy on the show. Now, the next time I come back, everyone’s looking at me going, “So, hey, what’s it like doing this and this?” And I’m like, “What do you mean what’s it like?” And I guess I know the answer. But I know the answer, oh yeah, because I’m fucking old. That’s right. [laughing]

It’s only been what six years?! [laughing]

I was like, you guys are so young! We were joking around one night, singing songs, joking around in between takes. I realized, “What are you like, 25, 26?”  “Oh, yeah, you’re 15, 16 years younger than me.” And that just happens man. That happens and you don’t see it coming, but it does. So I felt like a bit of the “sage,” not that I wanted to be. “Ask Philip, he knows. He’s over there on this walker recovering from those stunts we just did, yeah.” [laughing]

Aw buddy you’re still a very young man. You’ve got many, many injuries left in you. [laughing]

And I know I do, but boy I felt old on this one. [laughing] What was wonderful about it was it felt like everybody came with the same level of commitment and expectations. Which was, we sure hope this works out, it’s okay if it doesn’t, but we’re going to damned well give it all our all regardless.

Old man Winchester with some of the cast of Rogue.

And what that created on set was camaraderie and ensemble like you just don’t get. When people come in with agendas or people come with “I’m doing this if this happens,” or, “I’m going to do that, but I want this.” That wasn’t the case. And it just rocked! For instance, the last two weeks, two and a half weeks of the night shoots, I was from head to torso prosthetics.

I mean I’m covered with basically tiger love. I get my ass kicked by a tiger and somehow survived. The prosthetics were out of this world, but they take time. So I’m in the chair an hour and half before set, and it took me… we got it down to an art form actually.

I could get them off in about half an hour, 40 minutes, which was great. But at 4:00 in the morning when the sun’s coming up and you’re like, “No, no, I don’t want to hear the birds. I just want to go home.”[laughing] You’re ripping those prosthetics off your arm, or saying, “Screw it. I’ll do them tomorrow when I come back in.” So the hotel staff has to deal with you coming in.

Just really, really great attitudes from the top down, it felt like. And that’s the kind of movies I want to make. That’s the kind of people I want to be with.

Exactly, it feels like you were back in your element?

A hundred percent. Yeah, 100%.

Speaking of being in your element, we had a question from an avid Strike Back fan about the weapons/tactical training for Rogue and how it compared to what you’ve done in the past.

Weapons training for Rogue was basically rocking up and slamming a mag into my M4. We didn’t have a lot of time.

There were several fan questions that you actually answered just while we were speaking. I will tell you, I got several messages from South African cast members asking when and how it was going to be released but unfortunately we can’t update them on that yet.

Isn’t that hilarious? Yeah, nobody knows. ADR [Automated Dialogue Replacement] got pushed for me. I was supposed to do it in a couple weeks. But I’m going to be in Hawaii. So I have to do it after the 19th of February. I have no idea when it’s coming out. [laughing]

How much involvement did you have pre-production in terms of sharing ideas with MJ and any changes that were made beforehand?

Yeah, I suppose that the answer to that is I probably didn’t pay much attention to it, because MJ have such a shorthand. Do you know what I mean? So if there was something, it was sort of the natural progression of the conversation. It was “Hey, can we do this?” “Yeah, sure.” or, “No, this is why.” Okay, great, and then on to the next thing.

Whereas sometimes you really have to figure out how you’re going to ask that question because you don’t want to offend people. But with MJ and with Izzy, they have that thing that I have, which is “serve the story.” Does it make the movie better? Well then let’s do it. They’re not precious about it. I love this saying and I think Michael Chernuchin [showrunner/writer Chicago Justice and SVU] said this to me: “If you want to keep your words, write a novel. Don’t write screenplays.” [chuckling]

Brilliant! [laughing]

You’re adding 20 or 30 voices who have opinions and who know this because they’re coming at it from a character place they know better than you. So, if you don’t want it changed, write a book. But with MJ and with Izzy, they have that great mentality that I really appreciate ─ if it serves the movie, let’s do it.

There were lots of times when we would be running something and we’d go, “Hey, can we do this?” Or it was 3:30 in the morning and we had half an hour of light left, and we were like, “What’s a good fix? Let’s go down that road.” And that attitude, that vibe always happened on “Strike Back.” And it was always with stunts, right?

It was always at the end of the day. That’s why they look so dirty and nasty, because they really were. We were cramming in them in. [chuckling] And so that’s going to get captured on this movie, which I’m really excited about. We had some great, great stunts, great explosions, those nice little cherries on top of the acting and drama that happens.

MJ made a really interesting comment to me. She said that the first go around on the first few screenings of it, it had a real Alien vibe. Because it was very human, and then all of a sudden out of this humanity, comes this real intense violence and horror. So you’re kind of shocked by it. So that’s exciting. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m really excited to see if that’s held in the edit.

Wow! Oh, now I’m really excited about it!

Yeah, me too, right?! And honestly, a lot of it’s going to hinge on the CGI, and on that lion. We had two real lions we could work with somewhat and they had schedules. They didn’t like to work after a certain time; they were active only at certain times of day. It was their schedule, so we worked when the lions work. Let’s go.

And then we had this incredible puppet and this incredible puppeteer, named John. He’s just phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. He worked with Jim Henson for a long time, worked on The Muppet Show and he gets it, right? So we had a really good relationship because a lot of us had a very intense relationship with that puppet, [chuckling] a very intimate relationship, an intimate time with John and the lion. [laughing]  And so there was that that needed to be captured in a way very close, very dirty and very quick. And those are going to be intercut and sparsed out with CGI.

from MJ Bassett @emjaybassett IG

Now look CGI, you’ve got to get it right. If it’s clunky, it’ll blow the whole movie. So we don’t know what we have. But we have incredible people involved in that too. The guys who put together the lions for The Lion King are involved. All the things are in place for it to work really well. You’ve just got to wait and see.

Ugh yes, poorly executed or excessive CGI can take you out of a film so fast.

It’s crazy, right? There’s certainly a portion of the audience that is so fed up with that shit. That’s why shows like Strike Back and Warrior land, it’s real. It’s in camera. You know what I mean? I like my big Marvel movies but I also want to see a movie where I’m like, “Yo, that was close!” That was great. Well done. [laughing] We definitely captured some of that in this. That lion’s got to work; we’re all holding our breath.

Most of the time they do get it right and there are certainly the right people working on it.

Yeah, you’re right they do.

I was hoping we could talk about your other upcoming project, 38 Minutes. As a short film lover, I was pretty psyched when I found out about it. Paul Lacovara who was your stunt double in The Player, is the writer/director correct?

Paul Lacovara with his dialogue double on the set of The Player.

That’s right. So it’s about the 38 minutes between a missile alert being announced on the island of Oahu and the second announcement that it was a false alarm. I’m playing a retired Navy Seal who’s struggling with alcoholism. He lost his family, his wife and his two kids. She’s with somebody else and he’s really struggling through life.

He wakes in a stupor on the couch one morning to this alert on his phone. He makes a call to a friend at the DoD and asks, “Is this real?” The guy says, “It is. Let’s stick with our plan. There’s a boat at the dock, go get it. Godspeed brother, I’ll talk to you on the water.”

It’s the race between him getting his life together really quickly, getting in the truck, getting to his ex-wife’s house, getting his boys and ex-wife, and the drama that unfolds with everybody else panicking and trying to get off the island. Ultimately, I think it’s going to be a pitch for a feature.

Table read, Day 1 of “38 Minutes” shoot. photo: Paul Lacovara @paullacovara IG

What’s amazing is that Paul is doing a lot of stunt work over on Hawaii 5-0. Eric Norris, the stunt coordinator for Hawaii 5-0 was the stunt coordinator for Player. Paul wrote this with some friends of his, and they have given him all the resources of Hawaii 5-0, so we’re going to go over and shoot on two consecutive weekends and the following Monday, and we have Hawaii 5-0′s blessing and their resources to make this movie. That is amazing.

Paul called me at the beginning of the year, and asked, “Hey, what are you doing in February? I wrote this short. I’d love to send it to you. Do you want to come out to Hawaii and do it if you’re not doing anything?” I said, “Let me read it.” I read it, it sounded like a ton of fun and it’s not a lot of time.

I just said, “I’ll make you a deal. You fly me and my family out. Let’s do it!” and he said, “Let’s go.” So it’s a bit of a break/work trip for me. I’ll get out there, shoot that first weekend. Have a week with my girls on the beach, and then shoot that last weekend and come back to Montana. It’s perfect timing, because February in Montana. It’s either dumping with snow or its mud season. It’s one or the other. [laughing] So it’s kind of a win-win.

Exactly, yeah do I know because whatever you get, we get two days later. [laughing] That premise really is interesting because Hawaiians went through the reality of that horror not very long ago.

That’s right. So it will be interesting stuff for the people we’re working with because they walked it. We talked about faith last time and we talked about belief. My wife and I have been talking a lot about Hawaii and how it would be great to get the girls there but it just didn’t seem responsible with our resources right now. We have some other things coming up here in the future that we do need to do. We want to be respectful of that and put our money into other things.

Then this opportunity came up and as far as I’m concerned, it’s one of those little answers to prayer that you just don’t see coming. You just have to think “this is amazing.” We’ve been talking about this for the last six months, and there it is on our table. So to me, it was no-brainer. “Yeah, we’ll do it, Paul. Let’s go.” I think he was a little surprised. He’s like, “Really?” I was like, “Yeah, let’s go. You’re just feeding into a narrative that’s been in my head for about six to eight months. So let’s go.”

That’s your little reward for making responsible decisions.

What did I say earlier? Oh, yeah, that’s right, an old adult. [laughing]

[Laughing] Proof that every once in a while, adulting does not suck. Well that’s cool all around. I’m excited for that.

My wife and I have been talking about this, we’ve been joking around about this so let’s go. And we get to do something fun! Paul, he does all the pre-vids for the stunts on Hawaii 5-0 so we’re going to have a lot of fun on this. There’s some stunt driving because he takes the truck down the wrong way on a highway to get to the dock. There’s a big fight scene on the dock. I think we’re going to incorporate a lot of fun into this too, amidst the drama.

I’m really excited to see Paul again and Eric [Norris, stunt coordinator on Hawaii 5-0 and The Player] and that team of men and women who made Player just awesome. They were a bit of a life support for me because I remember when I would have stunts, I could turn that other part of my brain off. “Nine pages of dialogue? Nope, I’m not learning nine pages of dialogue. We’re fighting, or we’re running, or we’re shooting and we’re having fun!” [laughing]  I’m excited to see those cats again!

photo: @matthewhcoehlo IG

These are the little things where I think it would be easy to…I’ve certainly had those little lies of like, “Oh yeah you’re going to do stuff, but you’re not earning any money. What are you doing? This is a waste of time. What are you doing?” And it’s like, “No, it’s not. This is what it’s about. This is the art. This is the process.

Exactly, and you are getting paid. You’re helping a friend and you’re getting a free trip to Hawaii.

Oh, 100 percent! Again, it was a no-brainer.

“Purpose” is something I think we keep hearing, especially with the younger generation. Some of the issues that we’re seeing come from that sense that there’s just no “purpose,” there’s no objective truth anymore. You put those two things together and I don’t want to live in that world. So make purpose happen, let’s go! Create purpose in your life, right? And that’s what this kinda feels like.

Switching gears a bit, knowing we weren’t going to be able to talk in depth about Rogue as much as we had originally planned, I put out a general ask for questions from fans. Up to tackling a few of those?

  Yeah, let’s go for it!

What is the worst accident or injury you’ve had while filming?

It’s always the little things, right? [laughing] I crashed that motorbike in the floating city in Thailand and I copped a couple stitches in my shin but I don’t think that was my worst. That was just a bit of a boo-boo. But ugh, I put my back out on Strike Back, the last season in Budapest. There was the explosion in that town square, the Irish bomber. [Strike Back: Legacy episode 8] I had to pick that kid up and run away from the explosion. We did it like 10 or 12 times and I was fine in the day.

But the next day, my back was just wrecked and then it seized up. We had all that stuff coming up with Brendon’s unit [director Brendan Maher] in North Korea and the helicopter and riding horses. It lived with me for about three weeks to a month. That’s a long time; that’s two episodes of Strike Back! So you’re suffering.

But the funny thing was, when I jumped into the back of that helicopter, I had such momentum going forward, that my legs swung underneath the helicopter and I felt my back just go pop, pop, pop! It totally released my back from that injury. So it was almost a really horrible accident, but it ended up helping my back. [laughing]

There ya go! It was cheap self-chiropractic. [laughing]

Cheap chiropractor, yep that’s what it was. That’s right. [laughing]

We had the most questions from our Thunderbirds fans.

Nice, nice!

They really are a lovely fandom. Many of them asked the same question, what was the funniest thing that happened on set or behind the scenes during filming?

That was a long time ago! You are asking me to really dig into the archives here. [laughing]

Bill Paxton was like a father to us boys, because we were young. I was 22 or 23. I think all of us were, all the brothers. He just took us under his wing. He was absolutely hilarious with the way he would operate on set. And he was so old school, his banter with everybody on set, and in makeup. We just kinda watched Bill Paxton. He was such a force to be reckoned with.

He also taught us technique and was concerned about what we were learning from him too. He was a mentor the whole time as well as our fellow actor. We spent a lot of time together on and off set. There would be nights out in London. We were really fortunate to be able to work with someone like him. It’s sort of bittersweet recounting this; he was the highlight of that movie for me.

Thunderbirds, 2004.

He was and still is one of my favorite actors, so it’s really nice to hear that about him. Thunderbirds fans are really devoted, to all the versions of the show.

Yeah, they really are awesome, man!

With the Thunderbirds Are Go cartoon being so huge it’s revived the movie a bit.

That’s hilarious.

You’re a force out there; Scott Tracy is back in action. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the cartoon, but I’m obsessed with it. I love it!

No, I haven’t seen. Oh, cool!

Yeah, check it out, it’s on Amazon. It’s fun and really pays homage to the original series while making it current. The TAG and Thunderbirds fandom is a special little community. I took the dive into fan fiction a couple of years ago to see what was out there with your characters and have been hooked on the TAG fanfic. There are some truly gifted writers dedicated to the show. It is an incredibly positive, supportive group of writers and fans.

And that was actually a question that a fan question, if you’ve read any fan fiction about your characters?

I have not; no I haven’t read any of it.  But now that you’ve brought it up, I think it sounds really enticing. I do remember when I was doing King Lear in Stratford –upon-Avon in particular, outside the stage door, meeting with lots of Thunderbirds fans.

And they were always just brilliant. I mean so encouraging, so kind. They would bring…we had some Thunderbirds playing cards I think at one point, and then posters. And all sorts of merchandise that came out that, they would bring and we would sign it. It was really neat to see that live on. They’re a wonderful group of people.

Signed Scott Tracy trading card from the 2004 Thunderbirds movie.

We had a couple of people ask about which you prefer working in, film or television, and why?

 I think what people mean when they ask that question is “blockbuster film” versus television. I really don’t know the answer to that, because I haven’t done that [blockbuster films]. The films that I have done are independent films so they act and function, by all intents and purposes, like a television set. You’re turning through material at a much quicker rate, you don’t have the time or the money or the resources to spend time on things like the big blockbusters do.

So my understanding of independent filmmaking and television are pretty similar. What I do like about television, the luxury you don’t get in film, is the long form storytelling. I enjoy telling a broader version of a character’s life story rather than condensed to an hour and 45 minutes…or three hours, if you’re Quentin Tarantino. [laughing]

So I enjoy the broad storytelling format a lot more because it gives you time to dive into characters and go to different places. However, the bad part about that is like Lost where you fucking have no idea where you’re going! [laughing]  You didn’t from the beginning and now you pissed off all of us. So it’s given you six years of your life… if you don’t have an end, admit it!  Don’t go seven seasons and then, ugh! Don’t waste our time! Oh my God! [laughing]

 I can’t believe you stuck with it that long! [laughing]

Hey, I was newly married and I hadn’t watched it. In that first year, we kinda hunkered down. We did a few movies, but we caught up on a lot of TV. Lost was one of those ones. We were just…you know, by the time you were… argh, I don’t want to talk about Lost. [laughing] There’s plusses and minuses to both.

I’ll send you a list of good things to binge. [laughing]

Yeah, thanks. [laughing]

A big Peter Stone/Chicago Justice fan wanted to know what your favorite part of playing Peter Stone was.

We’ve talked a little bit about this in the past. It would have been the learning curve. I learn something new on every job because every job is different. Every job has people involved who either know more than you, or have different experiences than you, so if you’re lucky, you get to learn from those people.

And Chicago Justice was one of those shows because I knew nothing about being a lawyer. [chuckling] That whole world was foreign to me. So walking into that courtroom and jumping in the deep end, it was terrifying for me but also really rewarding. I felt like the feedback I was getting from Dick Wolf and Peter Jankowski, NBC, Bob Greenblatt, and our writing team was encouraging.

Justice episode “Comma” with Cathryn Dylan as Abigail Chapman

They were saying, “You’re doing it. You’re doing what we ask you.” It was motivating to me to be a part of that world because it was so new. For me Justice was all about learning how to be a lawyer, and learning a completely different set of muscles, right?

Definitely. One fan asked a question that you’ve answered before, but I’m wondering if your answer might have changed now after the last few years. If you could write your ideal role what would that look like?

Right, yeah what would it be? I joked around with my agent on the phone the other day. I said, “Look, is Daniel Craig really not going to do another Bond?” [laughing]

That type of role is clearly the dream but there are practicalities to that. I don’t have a broad film career. It’s just a really far-fetched dream. I would love something along those lines, though. So Jack Ryan, for example. That is so money. It is so fucking smart and it’s so on point that you just watch it and you go, “Good work, guys.” There’s a little bit of anger because I’m totally jealous [laughing], but mostly it’s just like, “You guys crushed that.” So, those type of roles ─ those smart action-y roles.

But what’s funny, sitting back now after SVU and Chicago Justice, that type of character never appealed to me. But I miss elements of Peter Stone. I miss that conversational stuff that happens in those dramatic scenes where you’re listening really intently…you know, the courtroom, I really miss the courtroom.

 Oh, my God. Did you ever think you’d say that? [laughing]

I never thought I would say that [chuckling] and I wonder if I’m saying it because I’m bored. But I don’t think I am. You know what I mean? I’m not saying it out of boredom. I’m saying it because there was an element of specific things in the courtroom. So let me more specific: closing arguments, cross examination…not sitting and listening, as much fun as that is on some days. Because you’re like, I’m smoked. [chuckling] But the doing, the real working with another actor, getting stuff out of each other, figuring out what those damn words meant. Because again, it’s a problem solving format of work, right? You both have to bring it and you both have to problem-solve. I miss that from the courtroom.

Early in the Peter Stone learning curve, from the Chicago Justice backdoor pilot episode of Chicago PD, “Justice” with Loraaine Toussaint as Shambala Green

So I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I don’t know what that next script looks like that’s going to be like “oh, this is awesome! What do we have to do to make this work?” But I’m hoping that the two worlds collide pretty violently, that there’s a bit of action and there’s some good, hard hitting drama. And that they’re pretty even in that.

So what’s the future looking like? 

We’re gearing up for pilot season so there are a lot of “All right, we’re right on the cusp of making some choices.” And that is great! That’s part of why I want to do stuff with Paul and why I want to see what Rogue looks like. We can start making some decisions. So yeah, it’s a good time. Pilot season is a good time.

I really appreciate you setting this up again and your time and hopefully I’ve answered some of their questions. Let’s be in touch and I will let you know after Hawaii, what that was like. Also what Rogue was like and how it panned out, once I get in that ADR room and have a little taste of it.

That would be great. Fans are definitely excited about Rogue and eager to learn more about it.

I’m really excited. I’m like, come on, I know what we did out there! [laughing]

Super! Have a terrific time in Hawaii and I look forward to hearing more about it.

As this is being posted, Philip is finishing up the final day of filming for 38 Minutes and will be headed back to Montana in a few hours. As he mentioned, it was a perfectly timed trip, missing several days of bitter cold and snow, returning to warmer (balmy 30s!) and more snow. He’ll be in the ADR booth for Rogue soon so so stay tuned for his reaction to seeing a first cut!

As always, your comments and further questions are important so please send them in here, on Twitter and/or Instagram at @pwinchesterfans






Leave a Reply