‘It nearly killed me’

The ac­ci­dent that changed Sul­li­van Sta­ple­ton’s life, and the hit US show that turbo-charged his ca­reer

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

“I WOULDN’T say I al­most ‘killed my­self’ be­cause that would be sui­cide,” Aussie ac­tor Sul­li­van Sta­ple­ton says of the skull frac­ture he got fall­ing from a tuk-tuk in Thai­land dur­ing film­ing on Strike Back last year. “But yes, the ac­ci­dent nearly did kill me and it changed the way I viewed the world. It makes you ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity to learn and live and en­joy the peo­ple who are close to you.”

The Mel­bourne ac­tor, who stars in US con­spir­acy thriller Blindspot, has been a fa­mil­iar face on Aus­tralian screens with roles in every­thing from Blue Heel­ers and Neigh­bours through to MDA and Un­der­belly.

But it was the world­wide suc­cess of in­die crime drama An­i­mal King­dom in 2010 that pro­pelled him to fame in the US (along with Joel Edger­ton and Ben Men­del­sohn).

His first big break was scor­ing the role of wise­crack­ing spe­cial-ops hero Damien Scott in the sec­ond sea­son of ac­tion se­ries Strike Back in 2011, and he’s spent the past four years “liv­ing out of a suit­case … fly­ing all over the world chas­ing bad guys”.

The 38-year-old’s cracked cra­nium de­layed pro­duc­tion on sea­son five by six months, and the fi­nal episodes of the show have just aired in the US and UK.

Sta­ple­ton, who also starred in 300: Rise of an Em­pire (2014), is ea­ger to reprise the TV se­ries on the big screen. “I would love to do a Strike Back film,” he says of mooted plans to film a fea­ture in South Africa next year.

His ris­ing pro­file made Sta­ple­ton one of the most sought-af­ter ac­tors at the last US pi­lot sea­son.

He was drawn to the role of Spe­cial Agent Kurt Weller in Blindspot be­cause of the premise: a naked am­ne­siac woman (Jaimie Alexan­der) is found in Times Square, cov­ered in tat­toos – and one of them has Weller’s name on it. The FBI re­alises each tat­too is a vi­tal clue to help stop an­other ma­jor crime.

More than 10 mil­lion Amer­i­cans tuned in for the first episode. That’s more than the com­bined au­di­ence of its com­peti­tors NCIS: LA and Cas­tle – and an­other six mil­lion saw it within days.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Martin Gero re­vealed re­cently he had three sea­sons mapped out – in part through ne­ces­sity as they needed to work out what all the tat­toos meant.

That grand plan comes as wel­come news to Sta­ple­ton.

“That’s awe­some, that’s the first time I’ve heard that,” he says, re­veal­ing he de­lib­er­ately avoids learn­ing more than his char­ac­ter.

“I don’t push to know that stuff … (it) can af­fect your per­for­mance on the day.

“I’m quite en­joy­ing look­ing at it day by day, tak­ing sit­u­a­tions as they arise, be­cause that’s how it would be with th­ese cases.”

Sta­ple­ton is look­ing for­ward to his four-month break at the end of the sea­son and hopes to re­turn home.

De­spite his suc­cess, it sounds like he has no in­ten­tion of be­com­ing an Amer­i­can per­ma­nently.

“No, no. This is for an Aus­tralian news­pa­per, isn’t it?” he asks. “Don’t say that be­cause I don’t want them to kick me out, I’m only on a visa. But no, I don’t think so. I don’t want to give up my Aus­tralian-ness be­cause it’s who I am.”



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