History Sheds Light on True Navy SEAL Stories

'Six' actor tells LifeZette about depicting the heroism of vets

“Six” is not your typical Hollywood production. Distributed by the History Channel — and premiering tonight at 10 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CT — “Six” is the story of a group of Navy SEALs who band together to rescue their former leader, played by Walton Goggins (“Django Unchained,” “Justified”).

What makes “Six” so unique is the partnership behind it. Created by the father-son team of William Broyles Jr., a Vietnam veteran, and David Broyles, a military special operations veteran, the series draws inspiration from real-life SEAL missions to give viewers a realistic look at an elite world.

I learned so much about who these gentlemen are and what their sacrifices mean and should mean to America as a whole

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Actor Kyle Schmid, who plays SEAL Alex Caulder, took some time to talk to LifeZette about “Six” and the show’s goals in genuinely capturing the selfless heroism of America’s Navy SEALs.

Question: Did you have any sort of personal relationship to the military before jumping into this project?
Answer: I didn’t personally. My uncle was in the Air Force. I had no immediate attachment to the industry myself, but I think it goes without saying that in doing this show, I learned so much about who these gentlemen are and what their sacrifices mean and should mean to America as a whole. And I don’t think the secrecy of what these guys do should take away from the selflessness of who they are.

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So much of the population doesn’t understand that. This is such an important show for people like Bill Broyles, who fought in Vietnam and David [Broyles], who signed up and went over to Afghanistan after 9/11, to [try to] raise some awareness for veterans who aren’t being provided the support system that they need and should have. We definitely tried to make this show as genuine as possible and as respectful as possible for those veterans and for people who are still serving.

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Q: Was there specific physical training you and the other actors portraying SEALs needed to go through?
A:  There was. That training is also a key reason why I have so, so much respect for these guys. And obviously what we did was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they go through. We did a four-day boot camp. We didn’t have time for anything more than that, and it was kind of a substitute four-day Hell Week.

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This is a course you can take that’s called SEAL prep. It’s basically a prep course for young men and women who are interested in going to Bud/S [training for Navy SEALs], to see if they have what it takes. We were even out there with guys who had taken it two or three times and hadn’t been able to have any success with it. We did surf training — we almost did surf torture (laughs). We did some water work, sleep deprivation. We learned the codes, SEAL conduct codes.

“The original script was incredible. It read like a feature film.”

We really learned what the physical body is capable of and what our limitations are — and how naive I now think people are who are finishing a workout at the gym and going, “I’m tired.” It was an eye opener. You’re using 30, 40 percent of your body and your mental fitness when you think you’re exhausted. You have no idea how far the body can truly be pushed. And we also became very aware of our breaking points, whether they were emotional or physical — and for a lot of us, I think they go hand in hand.

We learned so much about ourselves: how to compartmentalize, how to handle physical pain, how to use our mental fitness to get us through those evolutions. We also gained a brotherhood out of it, and I think that brotherhood translates onscreen so, so well. And I have to say, I met these guys on the first day of that SEAL prep. And with meeting a group of alpha male actors in that situation, you never know what to expect.

By the end of it, everybody had been thrown out the window and we laughed and cried together and banded together and became this band of brothers. That’s something I’ll value for the rest of my life. I’m closer to these guys than some people I’ve known for 15 years. I respect them so much. I’ve watched them persevere through pain and anguish and they refused to quit. You don’t get to do that with too many people. I love the boys for that.

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Q: What was your primary motivation for jumping aboard this project?
A: The original script was incredible. It read like a feature film. As an actor, when you receive a project, you see the breakdown of the cast, who is producing and directing, everything else. And Bill Broyles is a legend unto himself. He’s such an incredible writer and as a person, he’s just somebody you want in your life and value in your life because of who he is and everything.

He wrote “Apollo 13” and “Cast Away,” and Bill penned this pilot, this script that didn’t waver. It gave no apologies; it said exactly what they wanted it to say. You know, I don’t know how many people they had to take it to [before the History Channel]. When you hand something to a studio, they like to put their own touches on it and they change things. Bill and David, being so headstrong, passionate, and true to why they wrote this — and the fact that they had lived it — finally found a great home for it. History is one of those networks that keeps things true, and what they like to say about the show is, “This is the history of today and of yesterday.”

The things that are happening currently and yesterday will be history. So it stays true to their network, and we had their support through grueling days, and reshoots, or money, or any little thing on the production side. We were lucky to have a team at History that supported us, and were big fans of the project from the beginning.

Six” debuts on the History Channel tonight at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT. The show is 6 Certified through the veteran group Got Your Six, which works to ensure the accuracy of how veterans are portrayed in Hollywood productions.

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