Snipes and Winchester on doing their own stunts and the demands of television
HEN Wesley Snipes and Philip Winchester (of the TV series Strike Back) are thrown together, we expect action. Snipes, who was missing from the scene because he was serving three years for tax evasion, is back to make his name. Everything is going to change for The Expendables actor thanks to The Player, where he plays Johnson, a dangerous pit boss. Winchester, who is celebrating the birth of his new baby girl, will be playing Alex Kane, a security consultant whose ex-wife is murdered, giving him incentive to hunt down the bad guy. Snipes and Winchester on their new show.
What drew you to the role?
The premise was intriguing—the idea that there is a secret organisation made up of super-wealthy people who not only create a computer programme that can predict crime, but also place bets on it. So between that and the idea that I can play a character that wears disguises, does accents and stuff like that made it quite attractive. Johnson is a man of mystery. At one point he was a Player and he found a means of taking all that he’s learned and experienced, and applying it to the job of a facilitator.
You have been away for a while. Were you at all hesitant to take on this project?
Yeah, the demands of television can foreclose you from being able to do films and I was doing, on average, maybe two films a year. With this kind of a schedule it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to do it.
How different is it being on a television show?
I don’t know what I really enjoy yet because it’s early days. Definitely not the 3 am calls! But television has grown exponentially. It’s international and there are a lot of talented people working in the business. In films, you don’t always get to work with a lot of people you admire or talented artistes who you’d love to work with.
You do most of your action yourself. What has been the most dangerous so far?
On Strike Back, I jumped out of a helicopter that was taking off. And on The Player, we had a scene where we were thrashing a motorbike through an abandoned mall at the end of the pilot and I got to do quite a bit of that riding. But we have an amazing rider, who did all the badass stuff.
How would you describe the show?
It’s got a large concept to it and it’s a bit pulpy, but it’s also fun. The writing is really clever and I think the audience is going to understand that and fall into that. Because without good writing and good characters, the action doesn’t matter—it’s just robots punching each other in the face. So the writing gives the characters some gravitas and humanity, and then we put them in dangerous situations where things can go wrong—the action and drama matters. There are also human elements of love and loss wrapped up in the big stuff.
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