Ryan Phillippe Talks Doing His Own Stunts and Getting into Character for ‘Shooter’ 

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After the tragic shooting in Dallas this summer, Ryan Phillippe’s new USA drama Shooter was pushed back and its branding was tweaked a bit to make it clear that the leading man isn’t portraying a lone shooter. Now, the new show is about to drop and Phillippe opened up about taking on this new, action-packed series.

“After the experience on Secrets & Lies, I was definitely open to the idea of a series,” Phillippe told Collider. “It wasn’t something I was actively looking for. I was into writing and I was setting up my second movie, as a director, and this came my way.”

In the show, Phillippe plays Bob Lee Swagger, a veteran called back into action to help prevent a catastrophe. But Swagger finds soon himself framed and on the run. One of the unique aspects of the show is Phillippe tackled all the death-defying hijinks and hand-to-hand combat himself, which meant getting banged up once in a while.

“Anyone will tell you – actor or stunt person – that when you shoot a fight scene of any merit or an extensive fight scene of any kind, you’re going to take a couple of knocks,” he said. “You’re doing these unnatural movements, over and over again, with high velocity and intent.”

The 42-year-old thespian explained that preparing for the series meant learning about the training special ops soldier endure before getting sent into the field. Phillippe even tried his hand at some of it.

“I found out that I’m a pretty natural shot, when it comes to the sniper rifle. I hit a 12-inch target at almost 900 yards away on my second shot, in front of the Marines and they were all really impressed,” he shared. “One of the most enlightening parts of my prep process was discovering the extensive nature of the skill set of a special operations solider. These guys are put into immersive language classes before they’re deployed to a country like Afghanistan.”

Phillippe also discussed the show in the context of gun violence in 2016, explaining that their goal was to tell an interesting, engaging story, not just mindless violence.

This show isn’t gun glorification or gun porn,” he said. “We handle the weapons with respect. Our technique is militarily sound. I worked with the Marines at Camp Pendleton for hours and hours, and we had Marines and servicemen on our crew, which was a nice asset for us actors. From the first five minutes, the show flips preconceived notions on their head because it’s Bob Lee disarming careless hunters who are hunting a wolf. I give the audience enough credit to recognize what it is and whether or not they’ll enjoy it.”

Shooter premieres tonight on USA at 10 p.m. EST.