SEAL TEAM SIX: Freddy Rodriguez Interview (2012)

In a special television event, the National Geographic Channel will air the film SEAL TEAM SIX: THE RAID ON OSAMA BIN LADEN on Sunday, November 4th at 8:00 p.m. The film strives to show how the joint efforts of both the U.S. intelligence community and military tracked down the most wanted terrorist in U.S. history: Osama Bin Laden.

In an exclusive interview, co-star Freddy Rodriguez gave the scoop on his role as a U.S. Navy Seal, a man simply known as Trench. Due to the top secret nature of the military involvement, it is not known who the U.S. Seals were that participated in the actual raid, and fictional characters were created to bring this film to life.

Let’s start off with talking about what drew you to SEAL TEAM SIX and the role of Trench.
FREDDY: It was obviously the script. It always starts with the script. I read the script and I thought it was great. Then John Stockwell’s filmography speaks for itself, obviously; and I wanted to work with Nicolas Chartier who did “The Hurt Locker.” So I think a combination of pedigree is what initially drew me to it and, when I read Trench, I loved the character. I guess he had a little more of a comedic twist to him as opposed to all the other characters, so I thought I could bring something to it. And I had never played a Navy Seal before. I just found the overall package to be interesting.

Did they ever explain where the name Trench came from? It’s kind of unusual.
FREDDY: No, they never did. Trench — I’m assuming it has something to do with Navy Seals being in the trenches, maybe. But, no, they never explained it. Good question.

How would you describe Trench? You described him briefly as comedic, but having inhabited the role, who would you describe Trench as?
FREDDY: Not only have I inhabited the role, but just spending time with guys in the military, I found that at times they spend more time with each other than with they do with their own families. So there’s a need for light-heartedness and a little bit of comedy, and I kind of felt like my character fulfilled that role. But not only that, but his job function — in a Navy Seal team every Seal has their expertise or specialty — and Trench was as the breacher. It was his job as part of the team embarking on a mission, as they came across a door that is closed, it is his job to breach the doorway; whether it is taking an ax to the door or blowing off hinges with a shotgun or attaching explosives, whatever it may be. That’s his job. He clears the path so his team can come through.

Would you say the role is more physical that roles you’ve typically done and did you have to do a lot of training?
FREDDY: Yeah, absolutely. They had us do a lot of training — a lot of physical training and a lot of gun training. Is it more physical than the roles I usually do, I guess. I’ve done other roles and played other characters that were just as physical.

Is that one of the motivations for taking a role, you think, “Hey, this one will get me in shape the fastest, I’ll take that one”?
FREDDY: [Laughs] Yeah, right, it motivates me to go to the gym. I guess it’s one of the motivations. I think it all depends on where I’m at in my life and the projects that I’ve done. Up until that point, I think the most physical role that I’ve done before that was “Grind House” and that was a couple of years ago. So everything was just sort of aligned and the way I felt about the character, who was involved in the physical aspect, was that it was something I hadn’t done in awhile. So that was part of it, for sure.

Looking back at Trench, what stands out to you as the one thing you most appreciated about portraying him?
FREDDY: It was exhilarating to approach a door and take a shotgun to the hinges and kick the door in. There’s something exhilarating about that and you can get a physical high off doing something like that; and the gun training or working with explosives. Everything about it is exhilarating, and we got to do it within the confines of safety and not out there in the real world.

For you, personally, what was it like to work on such a momentous, historical project?
FREDDY: I felt a deep sense of responsibility to bring this character to life in a way that was as truthful as possible. I think we all felt that way, from the cast to the producers to the director. We knew that this film would strike deep personal chords with many Americans, so there is a great responsibility that comes with that.

Were you surprised by anything that you learned about this event? Because we’ve all heard the story of how Bin Laden was captured and killed. But what surprised you from this film?
FREDDY: What is interesting about the film is that it is told through three different perspectives. It is told through the Navy Seal perspective and the CIA perspective, and it is also told through the perspective of two Pakistani operatives on the ground. It was through the information that they were feeding the Seals that allowed the Seals to have the green light and go and get Bin Laden. It was their storyline that I knew the less about. So I was surprised to learn the tactics that they used in order to get that information, like the vaccination drives. I knew very little about all that. So it was very fascinating to me to get to read about it and see it, obviously, in the film.

You also worked with a really eclectic and interesting group of actors on this project. What was it like working with them as part of the Seal team?
FREDDY: The cast, they were great. They were a really pleasant bunch to work with. Like I said earlier, we all knew there was a sense of responsibility for all of us, and I think we all approached it that way. We all took it very seriously — and on a personal level, I just got along really well with everyone, which was great. We just dedicated ourselves to the characters because Seals are essentially a family and they rely on each other as they go into these situations.

If you could ask one question of the original Seal Team Six members, what would be your question?
FREDDY: “Which one of you guys shot Bin Laden?”

That’s your burning question?
FREDDY: Sure. Though I really would have loved to have met them. But all of that information is still classified.

What for you personally will you take away from this project?
FREDDY: On a personal level, while I was just an actor portraying one of the Seals, I took away what it must have been like to go through that experience — what it must have been like to see the compound in the dead of night and to have the instinct to just execute the mission as well as they did — and I got to live it in my own way to do in this movie. That will forever stay with me.

Finally, what would you hope that viewers will take away from watching SEAL TEAM SIX?
FREDDY: I just hope that the viewers — well, look it’s a film, so I hope (a) that they are entertained, and (b) I hope that they feel like they had a first-hand account as to what happened. I think everyone has sort of heard what happened, and I hope that this is the first time that they are getting to sit down and actually watch what happened. I also hope that we did it in a way that honors everyone involved, and I hope we did it in a way that provides some clarity as to what happened that day.

To see how the hunt for the most notorious terrorist in history came to a gripping conclusion, be sure to tune in for the premiere of SEAL TEAM SIX: THE RAID ON OSAMA BIN LADEN on Sunday, November 4th at 8:00 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel,.
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4.7 Million People Tune in to Part of NGC’s First Original Broadcast of a Feature Film Inspired by Real-Life Events

National Geographic Channel’s Sunday night premiere of the true-to-life full-length action thriller SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden became a must-see blockbuster hit, with stellar ratings that averaged a whopping 1.4 P25–54 on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The special now ranks as the network’s #1 show of 2012, and sixth highest rated broadcast of all time for NGC. It encores on Friday, November 9, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

(Information provided courtesy of National Geographic Channel.)

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