Rogue takes Philip Winchester back to his action hero roots


Philip Winchester previews his new film Rogue.

Rogue is the first film Philip Winchester has done after playing Peter Stone on Chicago Justice and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. That means it’s One Chicago fans’ first chance to see him doing what he does best—kicking butt and taking names.

The movie follows a group of mercenaries, including Philip’s character Joey Kasinski, who are sent to Africa on a rescue mission. But not only do they have to deal with the rebels they came to stop, they also have to face off against bloodthirsty lions who’d like to make them lunch.

One Chicago Center connected with Philip to talk about the personal connection that brought him on board Rogue, stepping into a role so incredibly different from Peter, and the most fun parts of returning to the action genre.

Check out our interview here and then get your copy of the movie either digitally on Amazon Video or on Blu-Ray directly through Amazon.

One Chicago Center: You have a longstanding friendship with Rogue‘s director M.J. Bassett, who told us she called you up and asked you to be in the film. Was it that easy?

Philip Winchester: It kind of was.

it was really funny. She said hey, I wrote a script. You want to read it? I said yeah, of course, so I read it [and] I said hey, that’s really fun.

She goes, what’d you think of Joey? I said oh, Joey’s a great role. That’s the one I’d want to play. And she said well, I wrote it for you, and I went that’s really nice of you…I kind of didn’t understand it. And then finally a couple of weeks later she said, do you want to do this or not? I was like oh! Yeah, I want to do this. (laughs)

OCC: Because of Chicago Justice and then moving on to Law & Order: SVU, it’s been several years since you’ve been able to do action aside from your guest spot in the Strike Back revival. Was it good for you to be back in the genre that you’re best known for?

PW: I had that little blip in there where I got to go back and do some Strike Back, which was fun. And that was really one of the main reasons I said yes [to Rogue], aside from it being an incredible gift from M.J.

I really wanted to go back to what I just love doing. And this was fun too, because the character was a lot more tongue in cheek and a lot more goofy than [his Strike Back character Michael] Stonebridge. So I was able to have fun with it with the skills that we’ve learned, but also just be a bit more loose with it.

OCC: Does that familiarity with the genre, but also with the people you were working with on Rogue, help you when you’re trying to prepare and find the character on the page?

PW: It does make it easier. It also presents, though, a bit of an odd challenge because the tactics are always changing and the way you do things are always changing in the military. I don’t want to get stuck in my SBS, Stonebridge model of how I operate a gun or clear rooms or move in spaces. I always want to keep learning that stuff.

And it’s a little hard, to be honest with you. The challenge becomes not going back to that because we did it for so long. Finding something that you like that’s new and changing that and adding that to a character. With Joey it was easier because he’s a little dark, but he’s also a little goofy.

OCC: We don’t know much about Joey going into Rogue, so is there anything you want viewers to know about him before they watch the movie? Anything that stands out from your point of view?

PW: I think M.J. fleshes [the characters] all out really well. You get given just enough information to care about them so that when bad things start happening to them, it matters. That’s good writing, and it’s good storytelling.

I enjoyed Joey; he was written for me, so it was very confirming. And I enjoyed that, but also I knew we would have fun with it. I knew that on the day there would be some riffing and some improv and some bits and pieces that we were going to get away with that we wouldn’t be able to get away with in a network setting.

Because M.J. wrote it, M.J. directed it, M.J. was there on set with us. M.J. called the shots, screaming at us when we were running out of time. So I knew we were going to have that kind of last minute fun with it. And that was mostly what appealed to me about [him].

OCC: Rogue is the fourth time you two have collaborated together after Solomon Kane, Strike Back and The Player. You’ve worked together a lot but it’s also been on such different projects. What has that relationship meant to you?

PW: I’m about to shoot off to Kenya and work on another film with M.J. and that production team that’s going to be a more of a family drama. I’m playing a dad with no particular skill set in terms of weapons skills or survival skills and things like that. So we’re going to totally flip that relationship on the head, and I think that’s going to be a really big challenge and a good way to go well, this is what I would do and all of the things we’ve usually done, how am I going to navigate that without having those skills?

I think a lot of actors’ hope is to get into the business in such a way that you make relationships with people who you can continue to work with, because once you develop an ensemble, you develop a shorthand, and you ultimately have more time to put into the project. You’re not figuring each other out, you’re not learning each other’s isms. You’re just able to say this is what I want. Can you do that? And they’ll go yeah, I’ll make that happen.

For me, the relationship with M.J. onscreen has become easy and in a good way. I probably do more work because I want to keep that relationship solid. I want to be in a good place with her on set. But also, off set we have a great relationship too. The friendship that we’ve developed over the years comes through and the trust comes through when we’re on camera and it’s crunch time. [If] someone’s maybe not pulling their weight, we’re able to see that and figure it out together. Ultimately, it boils down to just having a good friendship in real life.

OCC: The fans who saw you in SVU and Chicago Justice are about to enjoy a whole new side of Philip Winchester in Rogue. Are there any particularly great moments you’re excited for them to see?

PW: Kenneth Fok, he plays Bo—we’re each other’s Scott and Stonebridge. I think that’s a really fun relationship that, even though there’s only an hour and a half of film to get into it, it developed really well. I was really proud of how we pulled that off. There’s just some fun moments in it.

And I think if you don’t know Michael Stonebridge and you’re just now meeting Joey, having met and known Peter Stone, it’ll be great. It’s a really quick transition into somebody else, but I like this character a lot because there’s just levity in him.

He has this great sense of gallows humor that he uses all the time to protect himself and protect the people around him. That was something that I’ve not been able to explore in the action world, and certainly it’s nothing, nothing like Peter Stone.

Rogue is now available digitally on Amazon Video and on Blu-Ray through Amazon.


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