Why Sullivan Stapleton lives for the momentA serious accident made Blindspot’s Sullivan Stapelton change his attitude to life. Here he talks to The Red Bulletin about making the hard choices, and why the only thing he’s afraid of is wasting time
The crime drama series Blindspot revolves around a mysterious woman named “Jane Doe” (played by Jaimie Alexander) who has lost her memory. Her body is fully covered in tattoos and the FBI soon finds out that each tattoo is a clue to a crime they will have to solve. Sullivan Stapleton plays an FBI special agent, whose name is found tattooed on Jane’s back.
THE RED BULLETIN: I’m sorry, but the first question is about Jamie Alexander’s character Jane Doe. How were they able to cover her whole body in tattoos? Is she wearing a body suit?
SULLIVAN STAPLETON: They transfer them on. They are all transfers. It depends on what skin you can see and they put those one’s on. Poor girl. It took a long time to cover her whole body.
Do you have your name tattooed on an ex-girlfriend?
(Laughs.) No, not that I know of!
Do you do your own stunts?
Have you ever injured yourself doing one?
Yes. Lots of times! I have shattered my patellar. Broke a hand. Got a wire through my little finger. I have been shot by a canon. Got plastered in the back of my leg.
You got shot by a canon?
Yes. And then I was surrounded by a huge fireball. We set off a grenade and then the fireball – the wind went the opposite direction to which we thought it would. But you know, it is fun. It is a lot of fun.
Are you as extreme in your free time as well?
We are not allowed to be because of the contracts! But I Iike different kinds of physical sports when I am not drinking. (Laughs.)
Riding motorbikes, jumping out of planes, snowboarding, scuba diving.
What is the most important lesson you learned in life so far?
To have as much fun as you can. That’s pretty much it.
To always live in the moment and treasure it?
Yes, but f**k living in the moment if you are having a shit time. Go to the next moment.
Do what you are doing and have fun. And if you are not, move on. Try something else. Life is full of ups and downs, but that makes the fun all the more fun. When you go down, it is eventually going to go up again. Then you go back up.
Have you ever quit a project because you felt it was going nowhere or you weren’t having fun?
No, I haven’t quit yet. You have some bad days and good days. Some of these days are 15 hours long plus a couple of hours travel time, so it can be really tiring. Then you have to go home, grab the script and learn all the stuff for the next day. It can be quite non-stop. But you know, it means I am a working actor. (Laughs.) There really isn’t much to complain about!
Do you think about the possible story behind a tattoo when you see someone with an interesting tattoo these days?
Some of the tattoos I had for Animal Kingdom in Australia mean different stories, like which prison you were in or the bad things you have done. That was fun but it was also scary. I remember one day at the beach in Melbourne, I was wearing a pair of shorts and nothing else, and I was covered in the tattoos from the movie. There were some little boys trying to be tough kids talking shit and as I passed them I said, ‘Shut up!’ The girl I was with at the time thought I had scared the shit out of them, and as I looked back I saw them just standing there, totally silent and worried. The very same day I walked into a supermarket and an older guy, covered in tattoos, walked past me. He looked at my arm and said: ‘All right. Yeah. You did that? You did this too?‘ And I had to explain to him that I was just an actor, that I didn’t really commit those crimes! To be honest, that was a bit scary.
You had a very bad accident in 2014 while you were shooting Strike Back in Thailand. You fell of a motorised rickshaw and suffered a head injury that left you in a coma. How did that accident change your attitude towards life?
It made me want to have more fun in life, because it can go like that (clicks his fingers.)
Are you succeeding?
Yes, I am. I am a very impatient person. When people waste time, I’m like: ‘Let’s go! Move! Let’s do it! Stop talking shit. Let’s go!’ Surviving that accident really put things into perspective for me. Enjoy life as much as you can, while you can.
We talked to Sullivan Stapleton at the TV Festival in Monte Carlo.