- MELISSA MCAVOY
COVER STORY: SULLIVAN STAPLETON
In 2010, Stapleton garnered international recognition for his role as Craig Cody in David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom.” The film won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival that year and went on to receive numerous awards and accolades.
Stapleton has a seasoned career with past films including Ruben Flesicher’s “Gangster Squad,” alongside Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone; Kriv Stender’s “Kill Me Three Times”; Tony Ayres’ “Cut Snake”; and Rod Hardy’s “December Boys.” Born and raised in Melbourne, Stapleton was honored in 2013 with a Breakthrough Award by the exclusive Australians in Film. He has already given fans a wide range of work from early on in his rising career.
Currently Stapleton can be seen playing FBI Agent Kurt Weller, who is trying to follow the clues on a beautiful woman that is found naked in Times Square, her memory erased and body covered in a series of coded tattoos. Weller and the rest of the FBI team who discovered her work to decipher, investigate and solve the complex treasure map of her body. An ever-widening web of conspiracy and corruption is revealed, as is the truth behind Jane Doe’s real identity and the identity of the people who sent her to the FBI in the first place. The hit show takes many twists and turns, leaving viewers questioning each character and the role they play in the series.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Sully as we’ll call him now and learn more about the man behind the edgy action persona. With an infectious laugh and great sense of humor, we talked work, life and most importantly wine. To my surprise, Sully has quite the palate and has an amazing range of knowledge of wines from around the world.
Its time to learn a bit more about Sully and the difficult task at hand, to pick his top wines…
You have played some strong characters in your latest roles with 300: Rise of an Empire, Strike Back and Blind Spot. Which role would you say was the most challenging?
300: Rise of an Empire was the most challenging since the role was so physically demanding and training to create the body for the role was a job in itself. Being cast in a lead role like this came with an equal amount of hard work to follow up the original movie, but I was up for the challenge.
With your latest hit show Blind Spot, what’s it been like playing Kurt Weller?
I have had so much fun developing this character, having an amazing cast and crew to work with, and filming in NYC. What an experience, fight scenes and explosions in Manhattan and just seeing where each character’s role will develop. It’s exciting, fun and most importantly thrilling as an actor and being a part of Blindspot.
There are lots of physical scenes in the show, did you have to beef up your training for this role?
We train as we go honestly. With the hectic schedule, we train whenever we can fit it in, but do train for specific scenes. It is a crazy schedule as you can imagine.
With the season coming to an end, what can we expect for your character in season three?
I can’t wait to find out myself. I haven’t asked the writers as I don’t want to know what’s going to happen too far in the future. The writers do such an amazing job, I love getting the next script and diving in, finding out what’s in store and that I’m still in the script.
What separates Sullivan Stapleton as an actor from others? You seem very private and focused on the craft, what keeps you from soaking in the “celebrity side” of being a star on a hit show?
I’m not that kind of an actor, I love what I do and it’s a job that I take very seriously. I work very hard, but have a lot of fun as well. I am able to have a lot of fun with friends and family without being that kind of celebrity.
What has been the best advice you have been given, when it comes to acting and staying focused on roles you go for?
A director once told me early in my career not to go to drama school. What I have learnt over the years is to be as honest and natural in each role I play and hopefully that makes them believable. Teamwork is key as well, working with an amazing cast and crew as a unit is what is most important when collaborating to bring the script to life.
Offset, what do you do to kick back?
Ah, well I work very hard, but have to admit I play harder. Since we’re filming in NYC, I love to explore the city, the restaurants and the people. But, as much as I love to be out and about, I do love to relax at home and cook with a great bottle of wine and watch a good movie when I get the chance.
Before we dive into your favorite wines, what made you fall in love with wine?
Being social darling, sitting with friends and family enjoying a great dinner that’s married with an amazing wine. There’s a social aspect to wine that creates its own story in each bottle and fills me up and makes Sully a very happy boy. There’s something that wine does and creates each time I enjoy a great bottle that leaves a mark. Some of the best wines I have experienced, I can tell you the story behind the glass, which with me is always a good one.
SULLIVAN’S TOP WINE PICKS
Les Obriers De La Peira 2011
This wine has fabulous richness and depth, with full bodied, cassis, dried earth, ground herbs and licorice-styled aromas and flavors.
De Toren Z 2010
A perfected red blend shows alluring aromas of black tea and flows with concentrated flavors of dark plum, blackberry and black cherry fruit. A lingering finish shows off the blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Voyage Estate Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot Blend 2003
A deep, intense wine with a medium to full-bodied rich, well-rounded, blackcurrant fruit, showing full tannins and quality oak. All of which bring volumes throughout the wine.
Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz, Australia
Dark color, ripe and a seductive array of black fruits with licorice notes on display. The palate is concentrated with black fruit and simplistic tannins. The finish lingers and tells a story of past vintages from the vineyards.
Penfolds Grange Shiraz 2010, Australia
Dramatic in color, this is classic Grange – amongst the finest produced – replete with fresh, vibrant and young black fruit notes of blueberry. Classic Penfolds hint of the slightest floral notes and oak that boosts the famed Shiraz nose.
Stag’s Leap Artemis 2012, California
A blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 2% Malbec, sings rich notes of the amazing terroir. The dusty earth notes on the nose give notes of plums and blackberry fruits. A beautiful, well-rounded and supple taste on the palate, gives delicate tannins and a mouth-watering berry finish.
AUSTRALIAN ACTOR AND STAR OF THE HIT NBC MYSTERY THRILLER, BLINDSPOT, BUT PERHAPS BEST KNOWN FOR PLAYING THE LEAD ROLE IN WARNER BROS. AND LEGENDARY PICTURES’ “300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE,” THE SECOND FILM IN ZACK SNYDER’S FRANCHISE. STAPLETON STARRED AS GREEK GENERAL THEMISTOKLES, WHO BATTLED AN INVADING ARMY OF PERSIANS. THE ACTOR ALSO STARRED IN THE CINEMAX SERIES “STRIKE BACK.” NEXT UP, STAPLETON STARS IN “THE LAKE,” WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY LUC BESSON, ABOUT A GROUP OF NAVY SEALS ATTEMPTING TO UNCOVER AN IMMENSE TREASURE HIDDEN IN A LAKE IN WAR-TORN SERBIA. THE FILM IS SCHEDULED TO HIT THEATERS IN LATE JANUARY 2017.