TV’S HOTTEST DADBOD BLINDSPOT STAR SULLIVAN STAPLETON
Sullivan Stapleton recounts one of the many stunts he finished during five seasons on Cinemax’s cult-loved spy thriller Strike Back, and the fragile indication is the first sign that what he’s doing is dangerous. A few moments later, folded into an oversize booth at midtown watering hole Crimson & Rye with a Bloody Mary, he’s forgotten all about the nagging sensation. There’s something inherently kinetic about the 38-year-old Aussie that suggests his fear receptors won’t be dormant for long.
He started out as a child actor—his aunt brought him and his little sister, Jacinta, to a Melbourne-area modeling agency—and began booking film and TV projects in his native Australia by age 17. Though he’s had several “big breaks” over the past few years—playing drug dealer Craig Cody in Animal Kingdom and the lead in last year’s 300: Rise of an Empire—it’s his role as Kurt Weller, a New York FBI agent tasked with untangling a web of clues tattooed on a mysterious woman’s body, that finally has strangers doing double takes.
”I broke through at the age of 36 or 37,” he says with a throaty laugh. “There are people who go, ‘Hey! You’re that guy. You’re an actor.’ And I’m like, looking around, like, ‘Who are they talking about?'” The key to his magnetism as Weller, a gifted G-man who’s dedicated his life to the force, is the empathy he lends to a stiff archetype. “It’s easy to play those kinds of guys with one note,” he says, “but then to add layers to those kind of characters and give these men some heart is where I’ve found myself.” And in Weller’s fondness for the tattooed Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander), with whom he shares a checkered past, we’re able to find the humanity behind the hubris.
“They haven’t hooked us up yet,” he says when plied for information on a forthcoming Jane-Kurt romance. “I think it’s more of a brotherly-sisterly kind of relationship. She was kidnapped when she was a really young kid, and he was the babysitter, and I think some of that guilt has been stuck on his shoulders for 20 years.”