There have been some incredibly memorable moments throughout my career, but I have to say playing a part and performing stunts on the action thriller ‘Stratton’ opposite Dominic Cooper has to be one of the biggest highlights of my screen career to date. I’d worked with Dominic previously on ‘Mamma Mia’ in 2009, but this time I got to act right alongside him. This highly anticipated film finally had its UK box office release on 1st September 2017.
Stratton was one of those rare jobs that was just simply ‘cool’, on so many levels: Firstly because I got to film in the 2000 year old city of Lecce in Italy’s Apulia region. Secondly I landed a sweet acting role in the film and got to be directed by the legendary director Simon West responsible for a catalogue of blockbusters including Con Air, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, and The Expendables.
Thirdly, and to top it all off nicely, I got to run around with guns, strangle someone and eventually meet a gory end with an epic explosive bullet to the chest. It was all in a day’s work and one I will never forget.
The film is based on the novel series of same name by Duncan Falconer. In this first installment an ex-FSB Russian has stolen biological weaponry from the Iranians for his own use, and Stratton is going to have to get it back. But someone on his team is a rat, feeding information to the enemy.
Fast Pace Industry
When you're filming an action movie, the schedule moves at a rapid pace, but there is often a considerable time-delay between the completion of filming and a film's release date. Surprisingly, I shot this film 2 years previously in the summer of 2015. I remember it vividly because I was running around firing an MK14 on my birthday in 40 degree heat. In actual fact that particular July was proving to be a very slow one work-wise. In the entertainment industry, we joke that if you want the phone to ring with a job offer, then book a holiday and watch how work materializes out of nowhere to get in the way of the travel plans you’ve just made. With nothing booked in the diary, I decided to take advantage of the time off and join my entire family in Spain for a summer holiday. I kid you not - less than 24 hours after pressing the confirm key on the computer to book my plane ticket a film job came in from stunt coordinator Jimmy O’Dee and the dates fell slap-bang in the middle of the family vacation time.
Fortunately, the production team were kind enough to fly me from Malaga to Brindisi, Italy for the film - therefore, I got to spend quality time with loved ones with the added bonus of also being able to make a movie and do what I love for a living.
I hope you all get a chance to see it while it’s in movie theaters across the country, but just in case you don’t here’s a SPOILER ALERT! In a hostage handover situation I play an impostor who is returned over to John Stratton, an SBS operator, working for the Intelligence Detachment in Northern Ireland. However, to conceal my true identity, my face has been beaten to a pulp to render me unrecognizable on exchange. The only physical characteristic that gives me away to Stratton is the missing tattoo on my wrist. That’s when the shit hits the fan and I end up with a bullet in my chest. The scene involved some pretty tricky timing as Dominic had to hit his mark, spin around grab me and use me as a human shield all in a few seconds and at exactly the right time that I reacted to the explosive remotely fired on my chest, squirting fake blood everywhere. We rehearsed the timing in strategic beats and the result and fantastic one-take –wonder.
Check out the action in the clip from the movie below.
I had a nice bruise on my chest after the exploding bullet squib hit. They can be a little uncomfortable at times depending on where on the body they are being detonated. The worst one I’ve experienced was on the movie 'Shadow Dancer' starring Clive Owen and Gillian Anderson - I was stunt doubling actor Martin McCann and had a shotgun squib detonate on my neck - I really felt that one for a week afterwards.
Stratton also stars Tom Felton who I worked with on the last four Harry Potter series of films in his role as Draco Malfoy, which I will tell you all about in another blog post.