"I have so many mixed emotions," says actor Daniel MacPherson, reflecting on his experience on the series Strike Back, now in its final season on Cinemax.
"This has been such a life-consuming job, and a career-changing job for me," says the Aussie native, noting it's his first lead role on an American series. "I had been doing several auditions, getting a few small roles and bits and pieces in indie films until I started getting some support roles. So Strike Back was life-changing for me."
He feels good about how the show is ending, while admitting he's sad to leave behind his fictional life as a special forces operator, but more importantly the real-life cast and crew and those working behind the scenes, people he now considers some of his best friends.
"It was great because we had this final chance, and we knew it was going to be the final season, to just put everything into it," he says. "And so we just left no stone unturned. We thought, let’s make the stunt bigger. Let’s make this scene more ambitious. It’s monumental what we did. And at the end of it, I was sad because it was over but I was very proud of what we achieved and how we end the show."
The Strike Back showrunners have teased they're going all out this time around, and MacPherson certainly backs that up, noting he recently finished post-production on the last two episodes, including the finale, claiming there's one big action sequence which seems to run for practically half an hour.
"I go, 'Holy shit. It really does keep going non-stop until the end,'" he says while laughing. "I’ve never worked on anything this ambitious ... You’re really living on the edge with this show, the way it’s shot and the way it operates. It’s high-octane film-making. And the outcome is pure badassery."
MacPherson, who has actually spent much of the past decade living on and off in the States, is now chatting while in Ireland, on the set of his next project, which is still largely a mystery, as of this writing.
"It’s like being back in the very beginning again. And I can’t tell you what it is exactly just yet, but it’s big and a huge-scale production for television," he says, adding he started filming the new project the same day as the Strike Back final season premiere. "It’s kind of nice how that works. I’m very grateful to have this career that always seems to allow me to land on my feet."
Because of the scheduling between Strike Back and his new gig, MacPherson was able to take time off and spend the holidays back home in Australia, something he now appreciates, as he arrived in November when the bushfires had just started.
"My mother’s house was about 10 miles from one of the biggest fires," he says. "We were actually blanketed in this huge smoke down there for Christmas at my mum’s house. You’re watching the bushfire report and the app, checking if the winds changed. And we were very lucky that where my mother’s house is, it was spared, but the fires went around and others nearby weren’t so lucky."
He is quick to point out his appreciation for the outpouring of support from across the globe, but he also laments how frequent and much more devastating natural disasters are becoming, not just in Australia but around the world.
"The violence of climate, the violence of weather and the changing climate and the data and science is too much to ignore," he says. "And people act like, 'There’s always been bushfires and the summer has always been hot.' Sure, yes. But we don’t have bushfires followed by golf ball-sized hail in a space of seven days. It’s a very charged time—as it is around the world, as you definitely know."
MacPherson, who has a very charming and humorous demeanor, hasn't been one to shy away from speaking out about current events as of late. And while he acknowledges some public figures avoid hot topics, he's taken a different approach, claiming he feels a legitimate responsibility to use his platform for good.
"In this day and age, the truth is becoming harder and harder to find," he says. "There are great scholars and journalists doing great work. And it’s not just in the U.S. but across the globe. These are important times."
Especially because MacPherson spends so much time in different parts of the world and seems to be constantly on the move, he says it's that much more important to him to have what he calls a "good soundtrack" to take with him. As a serious music lover, he actually tries to carefully curate his music choices to match the moment.
"I grew up in a chunk of the ‘90s. I was raised in a surf town in Sydney and I remember Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden. All of that," he shares, then revealing how he attended the recent Chris Cornell tribute concerts in Los Angeles. "That was one of the greatest music spectacles I’ve ever seen in my life. Tom Morello on stage. The remnants of Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden without Chris. And Metallica. It was an extraordinary outpouring of music. Even if you realize no one can replace Chris Cornell."
And while his choices in music have certainly changed over the years, to him, music is still "the soundtrack of my life." Especially with a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
"I’m really deep into things like ODESZA right now and a band called HÆLOS. They’re great. And sometimes it’s good to revisit some old Jay-Z albums or Beastie Boys albums, which I love. Licensed to Ill through around Hello Nasty were like my Beastie Boys years."
And just to prove how up-to-date his listening habits are, he shares his realtime playlist.
"I can tell you everything I've got," he quips with a hearty laugh. "I have been listening to Freya Ridings. She’s a lot like Florence and the Machine. She’s wonderful. And Satin Jackets, which is great for the gym. I've got Mac Miller, Khalid, Alice in Chains. Then I have Gang of Youths, RÜFÜS DU SOL and a band called The Kite String Tangle, and Barns Courtney. And there’s this guy, Foy Vance, he’s incredible. And he’s from Ireland. And I’m in Ireland," he declares with a chuckle.
"But really, it’s where I’m at right now in work and in life. And life is changing," says MacPherson. "I love discovering new artists and I love how you can connect music with moments in your life. For some people, a song might remind them of an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. For me, it reminds me of where I was at the time. It gives you something to hold on to and remind you of where you were or where you're going."
Strike Back airs Fridays at 10 p.m. EST on Cinemax.