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"Strike Back" cast experiences "colourful" filming in Malaysia

We spoke to Warren Brown and Daniel MacPherson
on the set of "Strike Back Season 6" in Johor, Malaysia.
"Strike Back Season 6" sees the Cinemax series changing up its landscape to a more Asian setting, with the cast getting to experience places like Goa and the Golden Triangle – all without setting foot outside of this season's production location, Malaysia. 

Last July, Cinema Online had the chance to visit one of the filming locations in Malaysia, namely in its Southern state of Johor, and not only got to somewhat have a sense of what the cast and crew experienced while filming in the jungles (well, technically palm plantation) there every day, but also got to have a little chat with the stars Daniel MacPherson ("A Wrinkle in Time") and Warren Brown ("The Dark Knight Rises") while on set.

The duo reprise their roles as Samuel Wyatt and Thomas McAllister, respectively. Reuniting with Alin Sumarwata ("Neighbours") who plays Gracie Novin, while newcomers Yasemin Allen ("Water and Fire") and Jamie Bamber ("Battlestar Galactica") join the cast as Katrina Zarkova and Colonel Alexander Coltrane. 

With this season being filmed entirely in Malaysia, it meant the cast and crew would have some acclimation to do, particularly to the tropical country's humidity. Brown said that he thought filming in the hot desert in Jordan last year would prepare him for the heat but this was "different". "Literally you go outside in the morning and you start sweating and you don't stop until you go to bed at night," said the actor, though he and his co-star joked that it lent their characters a more realistic and genuine sweaty look on the show. 

Here's more of what the "Strike Back" stars have to say about filming the sixth season in Malaysia:

One of the scenes in "Strike Back Season 6".
Cinema Online: Hi there, when did you start filming here in Malaysia and how's it been working with the locals? 

MacPherson: We arrived here in April (2018). 

Brown: It's a stressful job this, there's a lot of pressure but everyone from every department enjoys it and brings their A-game. There's a lot of laughs on set, all day every day. Even night shift when we were working till 4 o'clock in the morning for a full week that first week in KL. 

MacPherson: We also got the opportunity to work with a bunch of local actors as well. We've had actors from around the area. We had some from Bangkok, Singapore and obviously a lot from Malaysia as well, every single one had been wonderful, turning up so excited to be part of the show, that makes our job easier and it's great. 

What have you filmed so far? Anything interesting? 

Brown: We got to fly around the Petronas tower and land on a sky bar in a helicopter. That was probably the best way to see KL, bird's eye view. 

MacPherson: We shot a gun fight on a rooftop and ended up escaping in a helicopter. That was pretty epic. 

Brown: We've got a few free helicopter rides on the show. 

MacPherson: I did some cool stuff in Penang. Oh, actually we shot Penang as though it was Goa and we recreated the entire Holi Festival. Took me two weeks to get all the colours out of my skin and hair. [Laughs]. I got a can of pink dye accidentally fired up my nose during a take. 

Sounds like you had quite a "colourful" experience. 

Brown: We honestly don't wear a lot of makeup on this job. A day after the Holi Festival fight, we had loads of makeup on because we still had red stain and blue stain in our hair, all over our hands. 

Did you guys get to do a bunch of stunts yet? 

MacPherson: I did this great scene with a wonderful actor from KL, underneath the bridge of Penang – gunfire, he nearly killed me. That was pretty cool. 

We also had a scene at level five of an apartment block. I had to run and tackle [the actress]. Our stunt team did an amazing job. I tackled her out the window, off the balcony for a five story fall onto the mat. 

Have you had any injuries on set then? 

MacPherson: I don't need tattoos, I've got "Strike Back" scars. 

Brown: There've been a plethora of scars and stitches and bruises and knocks, and that was last year, and it's the same this year. We committed to that right from the beginning. It is a super safe set and everything is well controlled but when you're in the scene and you're giving it all, the adrenaline rushing, you do slip. But also, it makes it real because if you slip, you make that part of the scene.

L-R: "Strike Back" stars Warren Brown, Alin Sumarwata,
Yasemin Allen and Daniel MacPherson.
So, you have a couple of new faces this season, how's it been working with Yasemin and Bamber? 

MacPherson: [Yasemin] has been amazing, she plays Zarkova and it was kind of – like us last year, maybe even more so, it was a baptism of fire for Yasemin. She came in, this show is like a treadmill running on max pace and there's so many skills and you have to know everything from stunt fighting to weapons training, the firearms training, and have to be an actor on top of that. Yasemin has all these qualities and had to learn Russian on top of that. 

Brown: Bamber's great, another really well-established, really experienced, lovely fella'. Great to work with, great off set. He brings something completely new to it, he's brilliant. 

How's "Strike Back" different for you this season? 

MacPherson: we haven't had the burden of having to set up and introduce new characters as much this year, that took a lot of work last year, to bring out a whole new team, a whole new section. And also I think this season, the balance between being story-driven and character-driven is more balanced. I felt like last year was very story heavy and it was action from the get go and you've got little glimpses into the characters. I feel like this year, the spectrum of the characters – particularly for Wyatt, you learn a lot more about Wyatt. 

Brown: Now we're just able to hit the ground running. We know exactly what to expect, we train, we were comfortable with the weapons. We trained for months, we had a bootcamp in Jordan. So you're familiar already, you're picking up kind of where you left off. We just got straight into it, we didn't need to set up and we weren't finding our feet. 

See how the duo's characters have evolved in "Strike Back Season 6", now available on HBO on Demand.

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