Sullivan Stapleton remembers his first day on the set of Blindspot in 2015. “We were doing the pilot,” the 42-year-old Australian actor recalls. “To be an Aussie working in New York — chasing criminals around iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, I was excited.”
By all accounts, Stapleton had a fun day at work where he got to “dressed up like kids and play cops and robbers”. And now after five years as “stoic and stand-up guy” FBI Agent Kurt Weller, it’s time for him to hang up his spurs.
Blindspot follows Stapleton’s intrepid G-man as he pieces together the labyrinthine past of amnesiac assassin Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander), using clues hidden on her tattooed body. Every time a code is deciphered, they move further down the rabbit hole of a vast criminal conspiracy.
The fifth and final season of Blindspot, which premiered on Friday (May 8), find Weller and Jane trying to clear their names after being framed for a cyber attack known as Project Helios, which was orchestrated by Season 4 chief villain Madeline Burke (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).
Speaking to a group of journos over the phone from his home in Melbourne, Stapleton attributes the show’s success to the writers who came up with “great stories and character arcs to sink our teeth into”. That, and the action which, he says, elevates Blindspot from your typical procedural drama.
Matter of fact, Stapleton lives for the action. But when asked about his favourite stunts, he is short on specifics. The man of action thrives on vagueness; he seems somewhat distant and distracted. One gets the sense that the only way to pry answers out of him is over a few rounds of brewsky.
Strangely enough, neither does he mention his co-stars in the 20-minute round-robin interview. Then again, to be fair, none of us — this writer included — ask him about them. (Weird, right?) However, we manage to ask about his favourite guests. “We had awesome guests,” he says.
Off the top of his head, he names Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Jay O Sanders, Ajay Naidu, and scientist Bill Nyer who plays the father of forensic specialist Patterson (Ashley Johnson). “Bill is such a positive, really nice, funny man,” he quips. Again, he’s sparse on details.
Ugh, work with us, Sully!
Having been on the action series Strike Back for four years, did Stapleton find it easier to say goodbye to Blindspot? “Look, it’s always sad,” says he. “When you work so closely together, you become a family, and to walk away from that, it’s a little bit sad.”
Now this is the part where one thinks he would throw in a bittersweet anecdote or two. No such luck. While he may be sad that the show is over, he doesn't sound too sad.
When one reporter asked if he would consider returning for a Blindspot movie or a revival a la Prison Break, Stapleton says, “I don’t think so. The thing about the series, when they end, everyone — hopefully — goes on to other jobs.”
Look at Strike Back, he says. “When they rebooted it, me and [co-star] Philip [Winchester] were already employed somewhere else. It’s just the nature of the beast.” Maybe it’s too early to say. Right now, he’s just happy that they got to cap the series with the final 11 episodes and “finish it properly”.
Stapleton is also glad that Blindspot has been brought forward from its original mid-year premiere, so that “people can hopefully enjoy watching in self-isolation”. And how is he handling the COVID-19 madness?
“I’m trying my best to stay positive,” he says. “I’m enjoying the downtime but I’m starting to get a bit worried about what the future holds and how this is affecting everyone. I really do feel for New York. It’s a shame. I’m doing the best I can — staying clean, washing my hands, disinfecting everything.”
The fifth and final season of Blindspot airs Fri, WarnerTV (Singtel TV Ch 316 & StarHub Ch 515 ), 9pm. Strike Back is on HBO Go.