Firstly Sullivan is a phenomenal actor. I sound like a broken record because of the number of times I’ve said this but he’s one of the best pure performers on the planet. The amount of intensity that he’s able to bring to every scene – whether it’s the physical intensity of breaking someone’s neck with a towel or the emotional intensity of realizing that his co-worker/girlfriend/childhood best friend has been murdered – is ridiculous. He just goes for it, all of the time, and makes the rest of us look like slackers.
I’ve always been impressed by how well-rounded he is. Like his partner in crime Philip Winchester, Sullivan has almost everything in his box of tricks. Not only is he a legitimate actor but he can also legitimately kick your ass six ways to Sunday. He’s six foot one of Australian muscle and he’s had extensive training; this is the guy I’d be hiding behind in case of emergency. I’m not talking about the characters he’s played – I would specifically trust Sully with my life.
But that tough guy physique does get him short-changed sometimes. He has much more to offer than just beating heads and breaking hearts. Check out Underbelly Files: Infiltration, a TV-movie he did just before Strike Back. His portrayal of real-life undercover cop Colin McLaren is riveting from start to finish. So, too, have been the emotional roller coasters that he took Damien Scott and Kurt Weller on respectively. He gets these complicated characters and thrives on every bit of them.
Having said that, Sullivan really is the ultimate dude. He’s a badass, both in terms of performance and physically. He carries himself with a natural confidence. He just exudes cool. And he’s absolutely the guy that you want to hang out and have a few drinks with. Just look at this clip from behind the scenes in the first season of Strike Back:
As someone who’s had the pleasure of hanging out and having a few drinks with Sullivan, I can say those moments are some of the favorite experiences of my life. There’s just no one else like him anywhere. He’s just a hard-working guy who also enjoys having a good time and doesn’t try to be anyone but himself. You’ve gotten glimpses of this on Blindspot and Strike Back, but underneath that intense exterior is someone with a fantastic sense of humor and who can be a real sweetheart.
To pull from my personal experience: I’ve known him for the better part of five years now and there’s been very few people who’ve been in my corner as much as Sullivan has, even though we don’t regularly see one another. When we collaborated on Strike Back he was the one who convinced me not to give up on my childhood dream of becoming an action hero. More recently now that we’ve gotten to work together on Blindspot, he’s still like the big brother I never had. As tough as he is, we can still share a drink and laugh at pictures of my 300: Rise of an Empire Halloween costume.
But that down to earth side of him only makes him more of a fantastic dude. So many people try to be tough both on screen and off. We’re searching for these action heroes or people build up these images of themselves. Sullivan is not that guy and he doesn’t need to be. He’s got it all on his own merits – talent, personality, physical ability, humor and heart. He doesn’t just portray a hero on TV; he’s pretty darn close to one in real life.
In honor of his birthday, there’s only one song we can really play right now: