The SAS veteran and Australian Survivor champion on hitting rock bottom, reinvention and learning from Hollywood’s best.


You spent 16 years serving in the military, six of those in the elite Special Air Service (SAS). What made you want to be a soldier?

I was in grade nine when I saw footage of a soldier storming a building and I just remember thinking, “Is there anything better you could do for a job than rescue people in need?” The more research I did on the SAS, the more I realised it was a viable career path.

The thing that surprised me most is that it’s very much a character-based selection. We often associate the military with ‘tough guys’, but it’s kind of the opposite. They want people with emotional intelligence, so the course to get in was really tough.


You worked your way up to troop commander in the SAS, then suddenly quit to enrol in business school in America. Why the unexpected 180?

Honestly, I was pretty traumatised after being in combat deployments and was very burnt out. I was excited by the prospect of a career change, even though I knew it would be hard to leave the military and go back to being at the bottom of the tree. But that’s exactly what I did. I left, went to business school in the US and started my life all over again. It was tough; being out of the military was a major cultural adjustment. Because we were shielded from the rest of society, I’d become accustomed to talking and behaving a certain way. So when I got out, I had to change the way I thought about things and the way I interacted with others.


You’ve been on Australian Survivor twice now, bringing home the title on the second occasion. Be honest, is the game as deceitful as it seems on TV?

I’m a sucker for punishment and Survivor was really hard because it’s not produced. They put you in this environment, they don’t give you much food and they record everything. If they miss something in their footage, they don’t make you say it again or do another take. So what you see on TV is, for the most part, exactly how it was on the ground. It’s pretty crazy to be honest.


After business school, you launched a luxury fashion label, Kill Kapture. What excited you about the industry?

I was actually drawn to fashion because of the way it tells a story. When I look at the stuff I’ve done (TV, writing books and now fashion), it’s all revolved around the same thing: communicating an experience. With Kill Kapture, I was trying to convey what it felt like to have a uniform that made you belong somewhere, because that was such a big part of my time in the military. I wanted to create something with a story that people could latch onto and relate to in some way.


You’ve just made your acting debut in the George Miller film, Furiosa, alongside Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor-Joy. What was it like shooting with Hollywood legends?

was new to the whole thing, from the audition process to filming – I really didn’t know what I was doing. The biggest thing I learnt was you really need to believe you’re in that fictional world, because if you don’t it’ll come off as unconvincing. I worked alongside Anya quite a bit, who’s amazing. She would adopt these micro expressions and it would completely change an entire scene. They were all masters, I was merely a knock-off parading around. I was only on set for about two weeks, but they were long and hard days – I’ve got a lot more respect for actors now. It’s not an easy job.


You wrote your first book, a memoir in 2021 and you’ve just published your first piece of fiction with the book ‘Outrider’. What were some of the challenges you faced when tackling this second book?

The big one for me is, and this is hard, because it involves saying no a lot; I was dropping quite a few balls that got sent my way. When I’m writing, I’ll ignore the things around me that aren’t relevant to the book, and I’ll use the first half of my day to concentrate on whatever goal I’d set out for that day. So, I’ll make sure I spend the first half a day doing just that, and I use the second half a day for calls, meetings, emails, just random kinds of admin things. I think sometimes people do it the other way around. They do the busy stuff, and then they’ll leave the important, productive things until later. I kind of try and get those big blocks in place first and then fill in the gaps with the other stuff.


Mark is the author of two books including his debut novel, ‘Outrider’ ($29.99, Macmillan Australia), which is to be published on 25th June.

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