The strange nature of international casting: Strike Back: Project Dawn

So the wife and I were talking about Sky 1’s Strike Back the other day, since my violence-loving mother-in-law was coming over and we were wondering what to show her. Being like her daughter, a Richard Armitage fan, my mother-in-law did really rather like it and wanted to watch more*.

The question was, should we show her Strike Back: Project Dawn. The dilemma: the two main leads, who were serviceable enough but afflicted with characters who were so under-written, we couldn’t even remember

  1. the characters’ names
  2. the actors’ names

Unlike, of course, Richard Armitage’s John Porter.

Here they are in action, anyway:

So I go online to have a look and what should I discover? Apart from their names, obviously.

Well, being an international co-production with the US’s Cinemax, it wasn’t exactly surprising that Project Dawn should have a US character and a UK character as leads.

But let’s look at the UK character, Michael Stonebridge, played by Philip C Winchester. Now, Winchester sounds English and indeed he played Robin Crusoe in NBC’s defunct Crusoe. But waddaya know, it turns out he’s British-American and grew up in the US, only coming over to the UK after graduating high school.

Huh. So essentially two American leads in an originally UK-only show. Why I ought to…

Oh, hang on. Who’s this playing the American character? Why it’s Sullivan Stapleton from The Secret Life of Us, Underbelly and Neighbours. Those are all suspiciously Australian shows.

And yes, Sullivan Stapleton is Australian. So an Australian playing an American and an American playing a Brit. That’s international co-productions for you.

Here they are with their normal accents

* They both have limits: 20 minutes of Robin Hood proved too much for my wife last week, despite the presence of Richard “smoldering looks” Armitage.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.