Unless you have spent a lot of time in the land down under, the actor who plays the bodyguard for Tina Fey’s character in “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” might not look familiar to you. His name is Stephen Peacocke.
The Australian has been working in TV shows and films for a decade in his native country. That includes projects such as the TV show “Home and Away” and the movie “Suburban Mayhem.”
Peacocke, the latest hunky export from Australia, fielded a few questions about his new film, his career and the draw of American cinema.
Q: When did the acting bug bite you?
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A: “I have wanted to be an actor since I was 16 and saw the movie ‘Bravehart.’ I didn’t start acting until I went to university. It was hard to do a lot because I was there on a rugby scholarship.
Q: Rugby doesn’t seem like a good sport for someone who makes a living with his face.
A: “I played rugby for 19 years and I broke a lot of bones. I also worked as a laborer for four years making minimum wage. I wanted to go to university and do acting on the side. I was studying journalism and my cousin works for ABC radio in Australia. I don’t know how I got my degree. After all that, when I started getting acting jobs I have loved every second on set. I hear actors complain on set and think they have never lived in the real world.”
Q: Did you ever consider only working in Australia?
A: “ I could have stayed there for a while. But, my favorite films are American films. They just know how to tell great stories in Hollywood. I am lucky that I have awesome representation that gets me jobs in other parts of the world.
Q: Is your character in “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” based on a real person?
A: “No. He was an idea drawn from a number of different people. So as research, I looked a lot more about what was going on over there. There were people on the set who had been there that I talked with. I am interested in modern history and conflict in general whether it be Vietnam or World War II. So I was already interested in the stories from Afghanistan. All I had to do was figure out what was happening there was relevant to the rest of the world.”
Q: The movie suggest a lot of Australians do private security in Afghanistan. Were there a lot of Australians on set?
A: “It was just Margot (Robbie) and me. We were joking that it was weird to be doing a movie where everyone was doing accents opposite of their own. It was nice to hear a familiar accent with Margot. She and I started on similar shows, but I am just a bit player and she has become a star. To be on a set with her and Tina Fey and Martin Freeman, I had to pinch myself.
Q: Fey is the star and an executive producer. How did she handle both jobs?
A: “Tina’s talent is that she can wear all of the different hats at once and you can never tell that she’s under pressure. It was great to get to work with her and see how someone who has had such a level of success is so grounded.
Q: What do you like most about “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”?
A: This is a story about people over there put in harm’s way. But the movie doesn’t club you over the head with politics. It’s the kind of movie that will start conversations. It doesn’t tell you what to think. It is a very human story.
Q: The movie shot in New Mexico. Did it feel like you were in Afghanistan?
A: “The production designers on this movie were phenomenal. We would turn up to the set and if it were not for the trailers it was like walking into another whole new world. You throw in the military presence and all their hardware and you could hear this other world as well as feel it. It takes the imagination work out of it because of the lengths they go.”