In Conversation with Warren Brown
We caught up with Warren Brown to talk about his new show Strike Back and discuss whether acting or thai boxing was more dangerous. Full editorial in Dear Boy Issue 02 BAD.
Hi Warren, how are you and what are you up to these days?
Warren Brown: I’m good thank you very much. I’ve just finished a six month shooting for Strike Back, a new series for Sky and HBO Cinemax. It premieres on Tuesday 31st October at 9pm on Sky One and NOW TV and I’m excited for it.
Can you tell us more about your role in Strike Back?
WB: I play Sergeant Thomas Macallister in the British military and the opening sequence starts with him in the SAS on the way to pick up one of the world’s most dangerous and wanted man. The intel that they had, led the team into an ambush and got them killed, while he escaped narrowly. He gets back to base furious with his commanding officer and breaks his jaw so he got sent to military prison. So that’s kind of a career low for him, but Colonel Adeena Donovan reinstates Section 20 in order to capture this guy and he is offered a lifeline and a chance at redemption.
Did you have to do a lot of physically draining military scenes?
WB: For Strike Back, yeah! The series started in Jordan and we were there for a month before shooting. It was a bit of a bootcamp – general fitness, gym, Brazilian jiu jitsu and climbing. The majority of it, military wise, we trained at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center and we trained with the Jordanian Special Forces.
It must have been interesting to take part in realistic military training. Did it help you get into a better state of mind for your role in Strike Back?
WB: Part of the training was situations that we may face in the scenes that we were able to draw upon when we got to shooting. It’s pretty daunting and scary at first because we’re firing live rounds so it’s very dangerous. Getting to feel your way around a weapon and the repetition in training got us comfortable and used to handling the weapons which was really helpful.
How did you get started in acting?
WB: Initially I did a bit of extra work and just being on a television and film set, seeing how it was made really sparked an interest in me. When you actually see that it’s a great big machine with so many people involved, so many different departments. One day by chance in acting class, somebody saw me and asked me to audition for Shameless (UK) when it first started, so that was how I got my first speaking role in Shameless.
2 years into my degree at Salford University, I did a play outside of school and the casting director of HollyOaks came to see that. A couple of auditions later I got the part in HollyOaks. It kinda snowballed a little bit from there and in 2008, I did Occupation which was a three-part drama series about soldiers coming back from Iraq with Stephen Graham and James Nesbitt and it won a BAFTA.
Oh, that was a great TV series!
WB: Yeah! It was fantastic to be part of a really powerful and moving script. In fact it was the first time I read a script that brought me to tears. It was like wow – I didn’t realise that some projects could do that. From that point on, I would try to pursue this kind of work.
You’ve done some boxing previously. How did you get started?
WB: Yeah I was a professional Thai Boxer before. I was 15 and a friend of mine was going and asked me to come along and I immediately fell in love with it. For Strike Back actually, it might have influenced me in getting the role. Since it was a very physical role, inevitably there was a lot of fights so that was really great to draw from. To do two things that I’m really passionate about was brilliant.
Have you suffered any injuries? What was the biggest injury you had while boxing?
WB: I had stitches in my eye, a broken leg, multiple broken toes.
Oh jesus! I’m glad you’re all fine now. Did you suffer any injuries from acting?
WB: No! It’s not that dangerous. On Strike Back, we would try to do as much of our own stunts as possible. So throughout the course of the job, there were bumps and bruises, but I got away ok.
Tell us something that people don’t normally know about yourself.
WB: Before acting, as a professional Thai Boxer, I actually won 2 World Titles before I finished. I also did a film in the Bahamas a couple of years ago and after that shoot, I got into scuba diving.
Scuba diving! What drew you into it?
WB: It’s such a cliche, but it’s just a whole new world down there. After the film, myself and three other guys in the crew actually stayed on to do open water qualifications. I just got hooked and did a lot more diving. I actually went back last year to do a dive and they asked if we wanted to do a shark feed. You would sit down in an Arena where they feed the sharks – not in a cage but proper feeding. I had a suit on and went down and fed the sharks. It was terrifying but you have to hold it together. It was an amazing experience!
Any New Year’s resolutions?
WB: I’m in the best shape I’ve been since acting thanks to Strike Back’s training. I’ll like to just keep it up and keep that level of fitness up.
See Warren's full editorial in Dear Boy Issue 02 BAD.
Photographer JUN H
Styling CARMEN HUDGES
Grooming EMMA LOUISE