After five successful seasons featuring actors Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton, the Cinemax series Strike Back returned with an entirely new cast in 2018 that included former Muay Thai world champion Warren Brown.
With one season of Strike Back under his belt, Brown once again returns as Sgt. Thomas “Mac” McAllister alongside Alin Sumarwata (LCpl. Gracie Novin) and Daniel MacPherson (Sgt. Samuel Wyatt) for a second season of the series, which premiers on Cinemax Friday, Jan. 25.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, Brown discussed the reception to the rebooted Strike Back, the show’s return in 2019, and what it’s like to see combat sports integrate more entertainment from someone who comes from a fighting background into the world of acting.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Warren, when we last spoke to you, your first season of Strike Back was underway. Now that it’s over what are your thoughts on stepping into the show five years in and the reception it garnished from fans.
Warren Brown: I was a huge fan of the show previously. There was a pressure there certainly. They had (five) seasons to get to where (the original cast) left off, so the bar was set really high.
The show had a loyal fan base, and like anything with change sometimes there’s a little bit of resistance. We saw that at first, but by about halfway through the fans kind of got into the show and got behind it. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to with Season 2; there’s not that change, and the fans know what they’re going, so we can kick off straight away from the beginning. I’m looking forward to that.
MMAWeekly.com: One of the highlights of last season was the return of original cast members Winchester and Stapleton for a couple of episodes. What was that like to have them cameo on the show?
Warren Brown: That was great, especially for the fans. Those guys are great. People associate them (with the show) and I’m sure the fans went crazy see them pop up at the end. I think it was nice almost for them to pop up and pass the baton over.
MMAWeekly.com: After having some time off between seasons, how was it to get back into form for some of the most physically demanding roles of the casts’ careers?
Warren Brown: Between myself, Dan, and Alin, I think we’re always trying to kick over in between, and of course as it gets closer we step it up a bit, and once we’re on set it’s pretty brutal, the training. That’s just ourselves; we’re in the gym the first thing before we start shooting, then you’ve got a 14, 15-hour day, and then Dan in myself have been in the gym over the evening.
It’s pretty full-on, but luckily coming from a Thai Boxing background, I’m used to being in shape when you need to be, it’s not a problem for me.
MMAWeekly.com: What can fans expect from the upcoming new season of Strike Back premiering on January 23?
Warren Brown: As always the Strike Back DNA they want to push and push more every year, and we’ve continued to do that. Having a season under our belt, we’re further in with our training and we know we’re doing. It’s a lot tighter. I’m super-proud of what we did with our first season, but I really believe this year is bigger and better.
It’s great to have new people come (onto the show) and have new energy, fresh legs, and obviously we’re in a different part of the world each block. We’ve got some great folks joining us this year, and really, really, great guest bad guys.
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MMAWeekly.com: Last season your character, Mac, was driven by a need to avenge fallen comrades. What could we see differently from your character this season?
Warren Brown: The mission (for Mac) last year was very much personal and about retribution. With that in mind, I felt he was a bit – and righty so – focused on the job at hand, but it was personal, so Mac could have been perceived as a bit moody last year.
This year the mission is still huge, the danger is still huge, but it’s not personal. He’s not out for vengeance. He’s out to do a good job. With that in mind, I feel like the banter has been a bit lighter. It’s been a bit more fun, a bit more chilled out this year.
Again, one of the great things with Strike Back is that they do get the balance between the danger, the gun fights, the explosiveness, but also the fun and the banter. I felt there was a bit more room for that this year.
MMAWeekly.com: Shifting gears to combat sports. As a fighter who transitioned to the entertainment field, what do you think about the blurring of the two that we’ve seen over recent times in MMA?
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Warren Brown: It is entertainment, and unfortunately or fortunately, it’s starting to get about box office and PPV and about talking the hype about it. Again, it’s whichever way you want to look at it. Some people see it as trash talking, but some people see it as building hype behind a fight to get more people to watch it. It’s one of those things that is inevitably happening, and you’ve kind of have to embrace it.
You have your purists and your fights fans, but the bigger something gets talked up and the more the media that gets behind it, the bigger the spectacle an event becomes. That’s when they start attracting people who might night necessarily be fight fans themselves, or train, or have been to a fight before. It’s about reaching out and getting a bigger audience, isn’t it? Ultimately it all comes down to money at the end and getting it to be as big of spectacle as it can be.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Warren. Is there anything you want to say about what’s on the horizon in 2019 in closing?
Warren Brown: Obviously there’s Season 2 (of Strike Back) that I’m looking forward to. Hopefully we get a Season 3. I’m looking forward to a new year. Personally, for me career-wise, things are getting bigger and better. I’ve got a couple of things on the go at the moment. I’m doing a job in Cape Town (South Africa) next week. And before we know it, hopefully we’ll be back in Strike Back territory.