Shooter is all about tough targets. On the USA thriller, Ryan Phillippe plays former military sniper and elite sharpshooter Bob Lee Swagger—and it’s up to technical advisor Steve Seapker to make sure he looks the part. Luckily, with nearly 30 years of experience as a Marine Corps and S.W.A.T. sniper himself, Seapker is well-armed for the task. (His duties also include giving script notes and offering input to help the props and stunts ring true.) “I’m trained in long-distance precision shooting, reconnaissance and surveillance and watching people for a very long time—creepy stuff,” he says with a laugh. “I knew I could teach this!” Seapker zeroes in on how he keeps
the show firing on all cylinders.
How did you get into show business?
When [creator] John Hlavin was developing the series, we met through a mutual friend. Afterward, we continued talking and emailing as he was writing the pilot. I didn’t think of it as a career move. Then he called and said, “Congratulations, we got picked up!” My first thought was, “We?” My second thought was, “What do you mean by picked up?” I didn’t know any of the lingo.
Bob Lee Swagger's marksman finds even more trouble in the USA actioner's return
What’s your approach to training the actors?
Since Ryan had handled weapons before for other roles, it was easy to get him up to speed for the first season and work on more nuanced stuff—like controlling his breathing. It has to be very Zen. Going into Season 2, we knew we were going to up the ante on the action scenes, so we did some extended training. I took Ryan and Omar Epps [who plays Isaac Johnson] out to Utah, and they were running and gunning in drills against the backdrop of these big red cliffs, competing and pushing each other. It was a great vibe!
Have you noticed a big learning curve?
One hundred percent! Ryan and Omar can hit a tin target from 1,230 meters away—that’s like 13 football fields. The entire cast is so comfortable working with firearms now, which allows them to focus on being creative. It’s fun to see them rehearse and figure out, “OK, what’s my angle to shoot that bad guy?” I’m like, “Yep, that’s a good tactical solution—and even better, it works for the camera!” I feel like a proud dad.
Shooter, Tuesdays, 10/9c, USA