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Strike Back wrapped its four-season run on Cinemax this past fall, but startling facts are only just starting to surface about the offscreen troubles that plagued the action drama’s final episodes.
When appearing at the Television Critics Association winter press tour Monday to promote his returning Masterpiece series Granchester, star Robson Green revealed that Strike Back’s leading man, Sullivan Stapleton, was in a coma after suffering a serious injury while on location for the show in Thailand in February 2014.
“It wasn’t supposed to be me as Geordie Keating,” Green said of his Grantchester role, which he landed during Strike Back‘s unexpected hiatus. “I don’t know if you guys know the story of what happened to Strike Back. Wonderful actor, Sullivan Stapleton, who was in that had a serious accident and was in a coma. We nearly lost him. And, therefore, the show had to stop.”
At the time, Cinemax confirmed Stapleton’s injury and the subsequent six-month production delay it caused, but the severity of Stapleton’s condition — and particularly his comatose state — was not divulged.
“After an off-set accident involving Sullivan Stapleton, there has been a change in the Strike Back production schedule,” Cinemax said in a statement at the time. “Following completion of shooting in Thailand, production in Hungary will be on hiatus to allow him time to recover. We plan on resuming production in the fall. HBO/Cinemax, Sky and Left Bank Pictures all join in wishing Sullivan a full and speedy recovery.”
Stapleton’s rep also issued a statement at the time: “Following the accident in Thailand, Sullivan is resting comfortably and on his way to a full recovery. We appreciate all of the well-wishes and support.”
Stapleton, thankfully, went on to make a full recovery and Strike Back was able to complete production on its fourth season, which aired in late 2015. Stapleton has since gone on to star in the NBC freshman hit Blindspot, which has already been renewed for a second season. Green stars opposite James Norton in Grantchester, which centers on two unlikely allies as they solve murder cases in 1950s England.
Green appeared alongside Stapleton on the final two seasons of Strike Back as Lt. Col. Philip Locke.
“I was shocked that I was cast as a lieutenant colonel in the SAS fighting the North Koreans to save the Western world from an impending nuclear attack. Not many actors get to do that. It was great. And then you get offered this,” Green said of his arc on the action drama. “But I mean, they’re completely poles apart, and the writing’s different. And, obviously, the stunts in that were off the scale. They were action movies for TV.”
Although rumors of a possible Strike Back follow-up movie have gained traction in recent months, Green sounded focused on a possible third season of Grantchester.
“It’s the thing you can’t quantify. You just hope, and it really, really does work,” Green said. “I’ve only done a few long?running series, and this is one where if the offer came for a series three, and if James was willing to do it, I would do it because James is in it.”
Grantchester returns Sunday, Jan. 25, at 10 p.m. on PBS.
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