WILMINGTON -- The men of "Six," History channel's locally filmed military drama, were strangers before they became brothers.
The diverse group of actors met just days before they underwent a four-day SEALFit training course last spring to prepare them to authentically play Navy SEALs on the eight-episode series, premiering 10 p.m. Wednesday.
"We just got a taste of what it is like to go through... what is really a six-month process in reality," said Edwin Hodge, who plays Robert Chase on the show. "In doing so, they probably took us to the lowest levels of our lives only to build us back up and present us with a new way of thinking and knowing that we can surpass a lot of brick walls that we put up for ourselves."
The grueling course gives participants a fraction of the training real Navy SEAL candidates endure with the intention to strengthen the actors as a unit -- they were instructed to shut off communication with family and friends -- and as individuals. For Hodge, that meant facing his limitations with swimming to the point that trainers had him walking on the bottom of a pool.
"We became very aware of our many little faults and were able to move forward headstrong," said Kyle Schmid, who's character Alex Caulder is one of the four leads of the series. "I think it goes to show in our performances how much we can trust each other when we've laughed and cried with each other. No more egos coming into play."
The series charts the inspired-by-real-life missions of Navy SEAL Team Six and the men who fill its ranks. The first season follows a 2014 mission to hunt down a Taliban leader in Afghanistan that is complicated by the discovery that an American citizen is helping out the enemy. "Justified's" Walton Goggins (in the role Joe Manganiello stepped away from after filming began), Barry Sloane and Juan Pablo Raba also play other members of the team.
As much as the show is an illustration of life in the military, it also spends a great deal of time following each man at home, navigating the relationships in their lives that still keep them on their toes.
"When you give them a voice and a face, it makes it easier to better understand why they do what they do and the sacrifices in which they take," Schmid said. "There is so much that goes into being a man or a woman in the service."
In Wilmington -- cut off from their own lives by at least a plane ride -- the men were put in the position to continue forging a bond through filming. Schmid and Hodge became golfing buddies on local greens, while the group could be seen downtown decompressing after a long day on set.
"We weren't prepared for some of the things that the script would throw at us," Schmid said. "We'd finish work sometimes and we'd have to go for a beer before we could go home. Very much like SEALs do when they go home."
The production's on-location shoots focused heavily on the small-town aesthetic where the men lead their non-military lives, including scenic shoots in Carolina Beach at Gulfstream Restaurant and the High Tide Lounge and Pier. But the cast and crew also spent extended time at EUE/Screen Gems Studios, where the show was based.
Executive Vice President Bill Vassar said the production was one of the more active the lot has seen in recent years.
"'Six' was very clever and creative in how they used our undeveloped land," he said. "They put up five set areas back there... and used those in conjunction with their sets on two stages."
In the thick woods behind the studio lot, the show hauled in the accouterments, including native African trees, to build Nigerian sets to film a key storyline.
Beyond the studio, the production spent one day shooting aboard a massive vessel docked at the Port of Wilmington for a scene in which the SEALs invade an enemy ship.
Due to the sweeping nature of the production, shooting nights were long and filming lasted several months, despite the short episode order. But the local crew's commitment to quality despite the production hurdles is something that stuck with Schmid.
"I'm not sure if it's cause they say North Carolina is the most military friendly state in America or what, but we definitely saw people step up their standards with our long days and grueling hours and weather,and not complain and just put the next foot forward and enjoy watching this show develop into what it became," Schmid said.
Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com. ___
(c)2017 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.)
Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at www.starnewsonline.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This article is written by Hunter Ingram from Star-News, Wilmington, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.