The CBS series SEAL Team is switching things up, as Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) and Bravo Team learn that an entire team of their SEAL brothers has been ambushed and killed, leading to an immediate departure when their deployment date is moved up. As the men leave their families behind for Afghanistan, viewers will get to experience the underlying toll it takes on everyone during deployment, as they work to find those responsible. The series also stars Max Thieriot, Neil Brown Jr., AJ Buckley, Toni Trucks and Jessica Paré.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor David Boreanaz talked about this shift in the series, what sort of headspace the team is in, as a result of what’s happened, balancing the family moments with the action, why he still does as much of the action himself as possible, directing an upcoming episode, whether he’d like to direct a feature film, and why SEAL Team is the right fit for him.
Collider: With this next episode, you’re going to start to change things up a bit with the show. What led to that decision and how did you feel about that decision when you found out the direction the series would be going in?
DAVID BOREANAZ: Well, I didn’t find out about it. I knew that we were always, from the beginning, as a producer, going to take the show into deployment. That was always the plan, rather than just saying, “Hey, we’re gonna go on a deployment for one episode, and then come back.” What’s important is to get it right, and CBS allowed us to do that. They were on board to allow us to shoot the show the way we want to shoot it, with the style and look. Taking it on deployment gives us an opportunity to have two different shows in one show. You’re with a group of high-risk Tier 1 operators that are at the highest level, as far as what they do and the dangers involved with keeping us safe, which is little seen in our lives at home. How Bin Laden was taken out, even what the President saw is not really what you see on our show ‘cause he saw satellite footage. We go inside, we go in the barracks, and we go now into deployment on the base and show what is behind those walls. You want to look at it as a M*A*S*H environment, where everyone drinks their own moonshine and they’re out laughing and singing by the bonfire. We show how they bring their lives from afar into this. The story I had from one of them was that he would bring fresh grass to J-Bad, so that he could smell grass because it reminds him of home. We have a tomato garden that Jason is going to be tending to. You’ll see them bringing what they love to a place that they have to make home, which is horribly risky and, at all times, on the edge of your seat. It will be fun.
Not that things weren’t real before, but things are about to get very real for these guys, with a whole team of their SEAL brothers getting killed in action. What sort of headspace are they in, as a result of what’s happened and what they now have to do?
BOREANAZ: It’s a fast tidying up to get out, first of all. It’s even faster when they find out that after the entire Echo Team that they lost, the Bravo Team has to go in and not only take care of finding out who did that, which they will and which will be an arduous task, but they’ve gotta sleep in those bunks. Now, you’re seeing guys that are going over and quickly replacing Echo Team and sleeping in the bunks of the guys that were just killed, 24 hours prior. They’ve gotta keep their head in their gear and not think about it too much. From that, there will be a lot of cracks and a lot of wild nights, out in the base. Also, they have to deal with figuring out who did this. We’re talking about some contract killers that will be involved and a whole plot that will unravel with a lot of characters driving that. There’s the relationship with Jason and Mandy. There’s a relationship with a new girl that’s coming that could be a romantic interest for Jason and how he handles that.
What do you most enjoy about getting to play the family moments on this show?
BOREANAZ: I like the fact that Jason is so conflicted, internally, being a Navy SEAL Tier 1 guy. Their brains and their mentalities are really just wired to go. They don’t think about it, they just go. So, when you have moments with family, you have to downshift. The gears grind in their heads while they try to figure that out and make sense of it. They feel like a bunch of misfit toys in a family environment that brings them to wonder if they’re doing the right thing. And then, you find these silent moments where it’s sad because they want to be there for their son’s graduation or first communion, or a girl’s first dance, but they can’t, so they struggle with that. You tend to see a lot of break-ups and separations and PTSD or drug abuse. It’s very dark, but yet it’s also very humorous, in a way, how they deal with injuries. They try to laugh themselves out of pain. It’s crazy to think about how a guy who just got his arm blown off is doing Tommy Boy quotes to get through it. I don’t know how they do it. Something goes off in their mind, and it’s full speed.