Strike Back is a British/American action and military television series, based on a novel of the same name by novelist and former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier Chris Ryan. The series follows the actions of special forces soldiers who work for an elite part of MI6, only known as Section 20., a secretive branch of the British Defence Intelligence service (DI), who operate several high risk, priority missions throughout the globe.
We've tried to give a certain depth to the character so that she's not just a reporter saying what she sees, but she's knowledgeable about the history, and has taken the trouble to learn Arabic to the extent that she's completely fluent and would even have a smattering of dialects.
Katie's tough. She's kidnapped and has a horrendous experience, but she goes back to work afterwards. She's terrified by what happened, but she is not going to stop reporting in the Middle East. We didn't want to make her a victim or a damsel in distress. But she does need saving, and luckily John's there for her.
The relationship between John Porter and Katie...
There's something about being in an extreme situation with somebody that makes you feel like you've known them for years. You can know somebody's heart and soul in a very short amount of time and you have a bond that is there for life. And there's a certain intimacy created because of that.
There was one scene we did, for example, where Katie's panicking because it's obvious her execution is set and they could come for her at any moment. But John pulls her back from the brink and forces her to trust him. He stops her from losing it and becoming completely hysterical. There's an intimacy in those scenes.
Very few actors could carry off this part, in that very few actors have the physique to be believable as a big SAS guy, yet have a deep sensitivity. He has both these things and that's a very powerful combination. In the hostage scenes when I had to be on the verge of hysteria, he'd get me with his eyes and hook me in.
Research for the part...
I talked to Gavin Esler who knows a lot about hostage situations, but people who have been taken hostage are few and far between, thank God. Sadly, some of them are killed and the ones who are rescued are very hard to access. I did a lot of reading.
Filming hostage scenes...
You have to go to a certain place that is really quite horrible. But to be able to take on a character that goes to such an extreme emotional place is great. It's an area I particularly love playing in and it's a very interesting area because it sort of cuts out your logic and you become much more your animal self as your instincts kick in.
This always strikes people as odd, but when you do tragedy, or extremely harrowing pieces, it's somehow great fun. You film a scene where you're about to have your head chopped off and you cry with laughter afterwards. Ultimately there are three actors in a room, one with a sword, one who's about to get her head chopped off and another watching, and it becomes quite funny in a strange way.
Why Strike Back...
I thought the script was really interesting. The premise was an action story, which is attractive as a page-turner, however, there's something else to this. It tells the story of people and how they cope with and how they survive moments in life when things go very badly wrong. There's also something very beautiful about the idea of a man who's made a terrible mistake and then has the chance to set it right.
Filming action sequences...
I love doing them. The stunt co-ordinator came up to me and said, “Upington, helicopters, shoot-outs - would you like a stunt double?” No way it's half the reason I took the job! If I'm allowed to do the stunt I'll do it. It helps if you know what your character's gone through.
They had a stunt double ready to do the scene where they suddenly move Katie from one safe house to another, so it's a hood over the head, being tied up and shoved into the back of a van. You do get knocked around the place because you're hooded, so they assumed that the stuntwoman would do it. But I did it, and it was terrifying. I knew that I was on a film set and could have stopped, but even though I wasn't in any real danger it was still very frightening. From doing that I got a flavour of what a captive might go through and that's very valuable, it feeds into the part. My advice would be to always do your own stunts when you can.
Katie Dartmouth Photos
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