David Boreanaz Reveals Why They're Shaking Up 'SEAL Team' in Rookie Season (Exclusive)


The 48-year-old actor and producer talks to ET about shifting the storytelling for the CBS Navy SEAL drama.

SEAL Team is heading overseas.

On Wednesday’s episode of CBS’ freshman Navy SEAL drama, titled “Getaway Day,” Jason Hayes and the Navy SEALs he oversees, Bravo Team, are forced to abruptly leave their families when their deployment date to Afghanistan is moved up after the Tier-1 team they were supposed to relieve is ambushed. When they discover that there were no survivors, Bravo Team's risk reaches an all-time high as they mourn their fallen brothers while preparing to head into a war zone. The episode marks a dramatic shift in storytelling for the rookie series, as the rest of the season will exclusively track the Navy SEALs as they embark on a dangerous new mission with little to no contact with their loved ones back on U.S. soil.

“We knew this was coming. We wanted this in order to push the envelope on a show that we are so proud of that takes chances, not only with our characters, and how that works going in deployment and how it becomes almost two shows in one,” star and producer David Boreanaz tells ET. “That’s real life, it’s happened.”

The 48-year-old actor shared that shaking up the show creatively midway through its rookie campaign has been a unique experience, adding, “We’re really pretty much into it.” Boreanaz, who revealed they’re knee-deep into filming the 17th episode, noted that the “the camaraderie and our bond” among the ensemble, which includes Max Thieriot, Neil Brown Jr., A.J. Buckley and Jessica Pare, has never been “stronger.”

“It’s amazing how that evolves with time and space, being on deployment and how the environment affects characters’ choices and their relationships,” Boreanaz says, “how close Jason gets to Mandy (Pare), how close Jason gets to another female character coming into play on the show. Is it the right character for him at the right time? All of these questions will be answered as we go on with the show.”

As Boreanaz tells it, this upcoming episode kicks off a crucial period for Bravo Team. The Bones alum is hopeful viewers come along for the ride; get hooked on the action-packed dramatics, but stay for the complicated human connections.  

“We’re exploring their journey and what really happens, how Tier-1 operators are pretty unique in the chain of command, as far as military is concerned. They put their lives on the line, they sacrifice for their family, their job is very high-risk,” he says. “They protect the country, they take out terrorists and they deal with that on top of dealing with what’s in their head. That’s shining light into a lot of areas that will be interesting to watch and unfold.” 

That’s not to say that Jason and Co. will be completely off the grid when it comes to what’s going on back home. Boreanaz says that the change in setting for the remainder of the season does create realistic challenges for communication for the characters and their loved ones, many of whom depart with many loose ends left untied.

“Ray (Brown Jr.) will be Facetiming with his wife a lot,” Boreanaz notes, adding that Jason’s mode of communication with ex-wife Alana (Michaela McManus) will be limited strictly to phone calls. “We’re not going to be filming what’s going on back home while we’re away. When we’re in deployment, you’re with us. The POV will always be with us.”

This new development will most certainly complicate Jason and Alana’s relationship. In Wednesday’s episode, there’s a glimmer of hope that the two may eventually reconnect for good. 

“She’s just awesome and that bond will always be there -- how Jason deals with it and saying goodbye, and maybe making things more specific in where there status is on divorce and how it affects him and his two kids, and how he brings that into deployment,” he says. “There’s so much at play here that for Jason, he’s very good at compartmentalizing all that stuff, but you’re going to start to see those cracks, and in those cracks, you’re going to see a lot of depth with the pain and the humor.” 

That’s not to say that SEAL Team will be a full-on, drag-out fight till the end of the season. Boreanaz promises it’s “not all dire,” and there will be “fun” had, specifically “some partying.” But he warns, not every member of Bravo Team may be surviving the season.

“I will say that it’s not going to be a comfortable ride for our Bravo Team. It’s going to be uncomfortable in a lot of areas and we will see them placed in environments and situations that there will be a lot of pain and hurt,” Boreanaz says. “There will be casualties, let’s just put it that way.”

SEAL Team airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.