Philip Winchester quickly rose up the ranks in Hollywood by delivering deft and versatile performances, whether the role called for him to play a dashing hero or a cunning villain. The American actor first made waves with supporting roles in feature films like the World War I drama "Flyboys" (2006) opposite James Franco. Winchester further gained critical acclaim for his Shakespearean turn on "Great Performances" (PBS, 1971- ) in a 2008 production of "King Lear" opposite Sir Ian McKellen . That year also saw the chiseled and dashing star land the title role on NBC's "Crusoe" (2008-09), about the fabled shipwrecked character. Even though this project was short-lived, Winchester expanded his repertoire to include science-fiction fantasy miniseries and action-filled films. In 2011, the actor displayed true grit and charisma with a powerhouse portrayal of a British operative on "Strike Back" (Cinemax, 2010-15), a role that established Winchester's potential to carry a major project, whatever the genre.
Philip C. Winchester was born on March 24, 1981 and raised in a small town in Montana. His father studied acting at a local university while his British-born mother worked at a nursing home to support the family. Taking after his father's passion for performing, Winchester began acting at a young age and was discovered at age 14 during casting for the Steven Seagal feature "The Patriot" (1998), in which he appeared as a militia man. After graduating from Belgrade High School in Montana, Winchester left home to study abroad at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in London. It was at the university where he honed his acting chops by starring in productions of "The Crucible" (1953) and "Blood Wedding" (1932). Aside from acting, Winchester was also an accomplished tenor.
After returning to the States, Winchester was cast in unaired TV pilots and low budget independent films. His career began to gain momentum after landing a supporting role in the sci-fi adventure "Thunderbirds" (2004), based on the 1960s television series of the same name that popularized the catch phrase "Thunderbirds are GO!" Winchester played the eldest son of a retired American astronaut and widower (Bill Paxton) who trained his family to protect and save lives using futuristic technology. Winchester took on a more dramatic role in 2006's "Flyboys." Set in World War I, the film followed a group of young American pilots who fight in the French Air Service. The film starred a young James Franco as one of the pilots who enlists alongside Winchester's character. Widely criticized for its lack of historical accuracy, "Flyboys" opened at No. 4 at the box office, but failed to take off commercially. Variety even named the film one of the 10 biggest flops that year.
Winchester returned to his theater roots with a 2008 production of William Shakespeare's "King Lear" that aired on "Great Performances." The actor portrayed the opportunistic antagonist Edmund opposite Ian McKellen in the title role. His ability to carry out strong performances in period pieces undoubtedly prepared Winchester to take on his first starring role on television. That same year, Winchester starred on NBC's "Crusoe," which was based on Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. The series centered on the 17th century castaway (Winchester) who spends six years on an island. While shipwrecked, Crusoe befriends a native named Friday (Tongayi Chirisa) whom he teaches to speak in English. The series also starred Sam Neill as the villainous Jeremiah Blackthorn. Originally planned as a regular show, poor ratings during its first airings forced NBC to promote "Crusoe" as a 13-part series instead and pulled it off the air after one season.
Audiences saw a different side of Winchester when he took on a more contemporary role in the Lifetime romantic comedy "Maneater" (2009). The two-part miniseries starred Sarah Chalke as a bubbly blonde living in Beverly Hills, California who has designs on the hottest producer in town (Winchester). That same year, the actor appeared in another miniseries, the Emmy Award-nominated "Alice" (Syfy). Putting a modern spin to Lewis Carroll's classic tales, "Alice" re-imagined the fantastical Wonderland with science fiction elements. Winchester was cast as Alice's suitor, the Jack of Hearts. The actor once again took the science fiction route with a recurring role on Fox's "Fringe" (2008-13) as a virologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and love interest of main character Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv).
The year 2011 proved to be Winchester's biggest yet, with a featured part opposite Joseph Fiennes and Jamie Campbell Bower in Starz' medieval fantasy drama "Camelot," and a starring role on Cinemax's "Strike Back." On the latter, based on the 2010 BBC miniseries, Winchester played a British intelligence officer who partners up with an American Delta Force operative (Sullivan Stapleton) to take down an international terrorist organization who has kidnapped a former British Army Sergeant (Richard Armitage).