Antony Starr worries that he's angered the producers of his Cinemax series "Banshee," or possibly the universe in general.
"If I'm honest it has crossed my mind that possibly I've done wrong to someone, I've pissed them off in some way," the New Zealand native said during a recent phone chat, "because the guys that I'm fighting just seem to get bigger and bigger. And every day I do a fight sequence I come out of it battered and bruised. So, you know, it's payback for some transgression either in this or a past life."
As Sheriff Lucas Hood in the action series, Starr squares off against increasingly larger foes, often getting beat to a pulp even if he comes out on top in the end. In the show's first season, Hood faced down a character known as The Albino in prison. This season's answer to that bruiser is Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers), a member of the Kinaho tribe living next to the Amish outside of Banshee, Penn.
"That guy is huge! He is huge," exec producer Greg Yaitanes told me in a separate interview. "If you are a big human being you have a good shot at being on 'Banshee.'"
Littlestone and Hood battle in "The Warrior Class," airing at 9 p.m. Jan. 24 on Cinemax, when the sheriff attempts to question Littlestone's friend in connection with the murder a girl from the tribe. As you can see in the video preview above, Starr once again gets tossed about in the epic fight.
Exec producer, writer and creator Jonathan Tropper didn't sound too distressed about putting Starr in the line of fire when I spoke to him, telling me, "Some guys just look better bloody."
Not that Starr is complaining about the stunt work. He actually enjoys getting the crap beat out of him.
"Yeah, look, I'd be lying if I said I didn't. I do quite enjoy them—weirdly and maybe in a slightly masochistic way," he said. "What I love about them is not getting battered and bruised but I love the fact that the character goes in against all odds and sort of pits himself against ridiculous ogres of men. And it's the spirit that triumphs in the end."
Starr, who before "Banshee" had done mostly TV work in New Zealand, had never done much stunt work. He said the stunts are demanding but a challenge he enjoys. Part of the prep work for a season on "Banshee" includes a lot of physical training, he said, but nothing really prepares you for filming the fight scenes, which can take up to 25 hours to shoot.
"I mean, I'm not a huge guy. I'm about 180 pounds and I'm fighting guys that are like anywhere from 230 to 250. So it really is getting thrown around by big dudes and getting hit by them," he said. "Even when it's just play acting it does take its toll after a while. So it's pretty brutal."
Starr talked more about the toll of fight scenes, Lucas Hood's state of mind in Season 2, and his love life.
I read you were injured in Season 1.
Yeah, actually day one of shooting as an introductory gift, a welcoming gift I got six stitches in my lip from a fight sequence when the choreography just got slightly mixed up and someone's head went into my face at a time when it wasn't supposed to. And I wasn't ready for it and it just split my whole lip open. So that was day one. It was a welcome to "Banshee."
Do they carry on and just keep shooting?
We carried on. I think the schedule was pretty tight because that was the pilot episode. So we could have taken me off to hospital but we only had this location for one day so it was kind of over to me. They could take me off to the hospital or I could make the choice to keep shooting. So I kept shooting and then they took me at the end of the day. We shot another six hours and then they took me off and I got stitched up and went back to work the next day. Yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Always a challenge.
Always a challenge. I could do without that, if I'm honest. That's going a little too far because it was on my lip and I was doing a new American accent. So it was a bit of a hindrance; having a face full of meat that's exposed was kind of awful.
It looked good on camera though, right?
Oh my God. I think they spent so much time and energy at the end of the pilot episode just painting out my puffy lip. ... It was day one and that fight happened about halfway through the episode so everything after that fight sequence they could leave alone. But everything up to there had to be painted out. So it was quite a lot of work in post-production.
This season Lucas seems a little messed up. He's having these visions of Rabbit and panic attacks.
Yeah, I mean psychologically he's been messed up. I reckon since he got out I think there's been a lot of mental issues going on as a part of getting released and facing up to it to where he's at. But this season definitely if you look at what happened at the end of the first season he effectively committed suicide by swapping himself out for the boy. And then went unconscious, came back to consciousness and is still alive.