“Banshee” Actor Antony Starr Talks Epic Fist Fights & Nude Scenes

With Season 2 ending tomorrow night on Cinemax, the New Zealand actor answers the same 10 questions we always ask everyone!

For people who haven’t got around to seeing it yet, how would you describe the show Banshee?

Banshee is the story of a man who gets out of prison, tracks down his long-lost love, and tries to reclaim what was stolen from him years earlier by assuming the identity of a sheriff. I guess you could say it’s an explosive action drama – sit down, strap in, and enjoy the ride!

The show has some pretty epic fight scenes. How much of the stunt work do you do yourself?

We do a lot of the stunt work ourselves, because with the nature of the show, we try and make it as gritty as possible and give the directors as many options as they can in the cutting room. So we do a lot of it ourselves, which means that we get beaten up quite a lot and get extremely well used by the end of the season… It’s really quite an enjoyable process, ironically, because it’s really something I’ve never done before. I’ve never done any stunts. It was great to join a team that’s really focused on trying to bring some fresh and interesting action sequences to the small screen.

Have any of your stunts ever gone wrong?

You always get little bumps and nicks and bruises, and they’re not massively fun. I think the only thing that has really gone wrong is on day one of the entire shoot – day one, season one – one of the other actors threw his head up mid-fight scene, which sort of screwed the choreography up. My lip exploded and I had to get six stitches, but I had to keep filming for six hours before we could get me to the hospital!

At least you got it out of the way early. Was there a lot of physicality involved in the auditioning process?  

There wasn’t any, which was a big surprise to me, actually. I read the first script and I really liked it, but I didn’t look at those action sequences and think, “Oh, it’s an action show”, because there’s so much dramatic stuff around it. I’m not an action star or a stunt man, so it didn’t really register to me what it was going to entail – I walked in very naively, thinking I was walking into some big drama show. No one really said anything! I knew that I could throw a punch and maybe a kick, but they never really checked. A lot of the time, TV shows are put together very quickly, so it doesn’t leave a massive amount of time to check these things out. They said, “Have you done fighting?” And I went, “Yep,” and that was it. It was pretty basic. Luckily, it all worked out alright. 


What was the last thing you had to apologize for?

Oh my God, I apologize so much, I do so many things wrong! That would be daily apologies – missing various household chores consistently.  

What’s your favorite curse word?

It’s a New Zealand one: Fuckwit.  

What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?

I never got hangovers in my 20s and then as soon as I hit 30, hangovers went from being something that was a pretty rough morning to three days of basically being sub-conscious. It became an awful affair, so I actually stopped drinking. I got sick of it and gave it up. The accumulated hangover was enough to put me off and never look back.  

Eric Williams

What was your first car?

My first car was a Holden Commodore station wagon. I can’t remember much more about it than that – it was coffee colored and I think it was four cylinders, so it was really quite weak, but very safe for a young man to be driving.

Do you have a party trick?

I used to try and do backflips a lot, but I used to bang my head more often than not so I gave it up.

Was there a reason for the backflips?

I thought they looked cool! I just thought people who could do standing-on-the-spot flips looked great. I wasn’t athletically inclined enough to be able to pull it off, though, so it was too many headaches and I had to give it up.  

So no drinking and no backflips.

Anything that gives me a headache, I cease and desist.

Except for filming protracted fight scenes, right?

Yes, except for wrestling 350-pound men.

Well, it is tough to give that up. Do you have a scar that tells a story?

I do have a scar. It’s barely visible, on my forehead, between my eyes. I had a job when I was 15 working at a supermarket and I knocked over a stack of plastic coffee cups. In my anger, I threw one at a concrete wall and it rebounded back into my head and cut my head open. Stupidest way to get a scar, but it’s one that I have. I’ve got to come up with a better story! You can just write that I had a shark attack and it nicked my forehead. That’ll sound much better.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?

I think I almost got a pool ball in there.  

Were you not scared you wouldn’t get it out again?

I think that was my fear – a terrible, terrible set of follow-up circumstances involving surgery and dislocated jaws.  

What’s the one thing to remember in a fist fight?

Don’t close your eyes. You can’t see, and you can’t hit, either. If you don’t have your eyes open, you can’t see what’s coming.  

Who was the last person to see you naked?

The last person to see me naked would be a few million Americans. Probably just any one of the sex scenes on the show – any number of people. 

Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…

I would give everyone free parking.

Photos by Gregory Shummon / Cinemax