David Boreanaz on Going from Bones to Leader of CBS’ SEAL Team
David Boreanaz segues from playing FBI Agent Seeley Booth, a former Army Ranger, on FOX’s Bones to taking on the role of Navy SEAL Jason Hayes on CBS’ SEAL Team, premiering tonight.
“There’s quite a difference,” the actor says of the two characters despite the fact they both served in the military. “Personally in his life, Jason is struggling with a lot of flaws; Seeley Booth was a little bit more of a straight shooter, a sniper so to speak.”
On tonight’s “Tip of the Spear” episode, we meet Hayes and his elite Tier One team of Navy SEALs as as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions our country can ask of them and navigate their personal lives.
At a press day for SEAL Team, Boreanaz spoke to reporters about what intrigued him about the character and the series to make him sign on, how he perceives his character, how much of the action he is allowed to do, and more.
You went straight into this after Bones wrapped. No time off?
I just like to work. I love working, and when I sat down and I talked to the people that were involved, the people that were outside, and the people that were part of this story, the inception of it, the real moving part for me was getting a phone call from [executive producer Christopher Chulack].
He called me, and he gauged the interest by his own experiences and what he goes through in life. Something rang true for me with that, and I respected that, and I remember talking to Chris, and he was like, “I’m just happy to be involved in a show that talks about the lives of these guys who go out and do these heroic things, and they come home and they’re a bit lost sometimes, and we don’t see that. But we see the flag going up, and we see the achievements, the safety for us,” and that was very impactful for me, and I just joined on, and I’m happy I’m here.
In the pilot episode, your character is in psychotherapy, and is belligerent about it. You don’t want to be there. Tell us more about this guy as you see him, what he’s gone through, and what he’s currently going through as a character.
Well, it’s still developing. Those are just the tidbits, I think, scratching the surface. I would say he’s somebody who’s been on a lot of missions and as a team leader, has responsibility, loyalty to his team. But also, things break up in his personal life. That, in itself, is going to be an interesting ride.
The character lives in a very hypersensitive, fast-paced job, and they control chaos. They’re calm in chaos, where we would all just freak out and run. They’re very calculated, and they’re very slow. And when they get home, they get very nervous in situations like barbecues or going to get a box of cereal at the supermarket. They can’t comprehend certain things.
What’s interesting for me is being able to talk and listen to the SEALs that we have on our floor that are tech advisers, Tyler Grey, Justin, Mark Semos, these guys who have lived these experiences, and get some kind of sense of insight as to how I’m going to portray that.
How did it feel walking into a new character after so many seasons on Bones?
It was great. It’s fantastic. Loved it. It was completely a 360-degree spin for me.
As you dug into this role what were the sort of things that fascinated you and you hope you get to explore more?
When you’re bringing stuff to a new character, you have to talk to people. You have to talk to SEALs. You have to adapt to what you want to bring to it. What I bring to it is never going to be told to you guys because that’s the magic that I carry. That’s my power. I see that as a blessing. I am fortunate to be able to do that and be in the shell of a character that does what he does for a living, and how conflicting that is. It’s a great opportunity to examine something and create something very unique.
If the show hits in the way that you hope it does, are you interested in talking to the military families and getting an even more in-depth look into what they go through?
Well, obviously, I’ve spoken to some. Being around them, the SEALs and the stories they’ve told me has been very daunting and exhilarating. It’s a whole new world for me. To take it all in, it’s tough. You have to go small bits and pieces. I’m, of course, open to talking to military, to families, yes, without even questioning it.
What’s been the most interesting thing finding out about what they do and what their thought processes are?
They’re wired differently. When they have a mission and they have to go in, they don’t want to fail. They’re perfectionists, so I think what bothers them the most is when something goes haywire. I asked one of them once, “Where’s the vulnerability? How do you guys cry?” And they don’t. They use a lot of humor for pain.
One of the things that caught me was the dogs, the use of the animals to go in and gear the situation, and one of them lost his dog and he was in tears. That struck me. It’s intense.
How much of the action are you allowed to do?
I do as much as I can. I’m very sore right now. The missions are very challenging and I do as much as I can. I want to because the way we shoot them is the POV of our mission while its going on and, I think, it’s going to separate us from a lot of the other shows. We’re not going to show the others guys, the enemy, we’re going to be really behind us and see us. So when we do a take, we’re often going and gunning, we’re walking very slow, and we’re taking out corners. It’s synchronized but I’m still learning. It’s exciting stuff, but it’s very hard on the joints.
You talked about talking to the military families but what about your family? Do you have people that have served?
My father was in the military. My wife’s [Jamie Bergman] uncle was in the military. He just passed away, he was in Vietnam. My uncle was in the Korean War and he was a prisoner of war. So, yeah, I have family that have been in the war and been affected, yes.