Ex-special forces operator Duncan Falconer swapped his weapons for a pen and wrote a successful series of fictional books based on his own experiences. Now his first novel has been turned into the film, Stratton.
Within two weeks of passing the selection process and commencing operations as part of a secret military intelligence unit within Britain’s special forces, one of Duncan Falconer’s fellow covert operators was lost. The former soldier had already been the youngest (at 19) to pass the gruelling SBS (Special Boat Service) selection course, and now he found himself deep undercover in an anti-terrorist unit.
“These were really interesting times. I never knew about that world; in fact, no one ever does until you join it,” says Falconer. “From day one it was really exciting.”
Fitting credentials indeed for a man who would go on to write an autobiography and then, with his publisher’s insistence, begin a series of fictional books based on his own experiences.
According to Falconer, he stumbled across his writing ability quite by accident. He left the SBS after 12 years and was earning a living advising on security in trouble hotspots around the world. While in Los Angeles helping a friend open a new security office, someone asked Falconer to help write a screenplay.
“[Dominic Cooper] did a really good job of picking up the role of Stratton, because it was a real rush job…”
“They flaked out, I wrote the screenplay myself and then a friend of mine, who’s an actor out there, sent the script to an agent,” explains Falconer. “The next thing I hear is that Warner Bros. want to buy it! I thought ‘this is alright’ but then didn’t earn anything out of it for another two years,” he laughs.
With the books came more TV and film work and in 2014, Henry Cavill bought the rights to make Stratton, based on the character from Falconer’s first book, and with his own production company began to develop the film with Simon West to direct. Falconer even took Cavill training to prepare him for the role of Stratton. Five days out from the shoot, Cavill quit due to creative differences and the project was put on hold.
Enter Dominic Cooper, who took on the role of Stratton, and production began once again.
“I think Dominic Cooper is a brilliant actor and I thought he did a very interesting portrayal,” notes Falconer. “He did a really good job of picking up the role of Stratton because it was a real rush job and he didn’t have much time before the shoot started.
“I had two weeks with Henry and I took him out on Dartmoor (UK) for a few nights camping and basically trained him up using special forces techniques. But unfortunately he dropped out and the scheduling didn’t permit time to do the same with Dominic.”
With the first film to feature Stratton completed, how did Falconer feel about it?
“So many people get involved in the film industry, so by the time the director, producer, editor, and the distributors have a go at it, you get a product that sometimes isn’t always what the writer envisaged in the first place,” he says.
“But I was happy we got our first steps to putting an SBS hero on the screen and I was so pleased that Stratton had finally come off the book shelves.”
“It’s the first big step for us. I’m working on a new series of Stratton books and we’re hoping to get a TV show based on Stratton off the ground, so it’s very exciting to take those first steps.”
Stratton is out January 17
Duncan Falconer: “I actually took Henry Cavill to a secret place when I was training him up. The aim was to teach him how to shoot pistols properly, because you can shoot guns at this place – it’s away from everything. The thing that annoys me most about the movies is actors never hold their pistols right and I thought, ‘my boy Henry is going to learn how to do this right’. And then he dropped out…”