Kathleen Robertson and Freddy Rodriguez Reflect on Filming SEAL TEAM SIX: THE RAID ON OSAMA BIN LADEN

After unspooling on the National Geographic Channel last night, SEAL TEAM SIX: THE RAID ON OSAMA BIN LADEN is being made available to American Netflix subscribers this evening. As such, theTVaddict.com recently had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with stars Kathleen Robertson and Freddy Rodriguez who play CIA analyst Vivian Hollins and a U.S. Navy Seal respectively. Two fictional charcters created to shed light on how the CIA maneuvered to capture the most-wanted man on the planet. See for yourself, after the jump.

So what drew you to SEAL TEAM SIX and the role of Vivian?
SEAL TEAM SIX is the first full-length feature film about the raid on Osama Bin Laden, and that in and of itself was obviously a huge draw for me.  It was something I was really fascinated by — the script really detailed and gives you a very clear idea of how the events unfolded in a way that I personally wasn’t aware of.  It’s a historic event that we all feel that we know a lot about, but we don’t really know much about the days, the hours, and the weeks leading up to it and the actual execution of the raid — how it actually happened.  So, for me, that was really, really fascinating.  My character in the film, Vivian Hollins, she’s with the CIA as a counter-intelligence analyst and she’s the only female in the film, so it was appealing and interesting to sort of be the voice of the female point of view in the film.  It’s a great role.  It has a very clear objective and a clear want, which as an actor is always nice.  

What would you describe is the one thing that really drives Vivian?
In a movie like this, the movie explores the event and is not really about the backstories of the characters or how they got to be where they are.  It is a much more fact-based exploration of the event.  So, as an actor, you kind of have to get in there and do your own sort of detective work, in a way, to figure out why you think that person would be so driven to be committed to it.  There was little I had to go off of in the actual script other than I knew that she had a college roommate who had lost a father and brother on 9/11; so that was an initial sort of trigger for her.  But I think it’s the kind of thing where week-after-week and month-after-month, the more she got into it and the more she became immersed in that mission, it became her identity and her sole singular purpose in her life.  I think that anyone who has that quality about them, it’s a very personal thing, and it puts a point on why certain people have that component to their personalities.  So it’s complicated.   

Do you know if Vivian was based on an actual person?
KATHLEEN:  She was a composite of what they imagined a woman would be in that situation.  We filmed SEAL TEAM SIX in February, which was before the book came out, and before we had a lot of the information that we have right now.  So a lot of the characters in the film were composed of different elements of real people ’cause we still really don’t know who they were.  We still don’t know who the actual Seals were.  It’s still very much anyone’s guess.  There’s a lot of speculation and a lot of people who have come forth, but we really don’t know.  So at the time we worked on the movie, we didn’t actually have that information.

As an actor, what did you find interesting about portraying this role?
Just the idea of someone who has such a clear focus and drive to accomplish something.  In most films, that is not necessarily achieved in the end.  But in this film, she gets what she wants.  It’s a great journey for her and a great materialization of something that she’s been working towards for a big part of her adult life.  So it’s always great to play a character that gets what they want in the end.

This is a historical project and is quite momentous, particularly with the upcoming election.  What was it like working on something of this magnitude?
KATHLEEN:  Whenever you are a part of something is based on truth and based on real life — real people and real events — you do feel a certain sense of responsibility to the material to make sure its as accurate as possible and as sensitive as possible.  The hope is that the killing of Osama Bin Laden hopefully brought some sense of closure to people who lost loved ones on 9/11.  It’s a sensitive subject matter and it’s delicate and you don’t want it to feel exploitive, but at the same time you want it to be as truthful as possible.  So it’s walking a fine line.  Of course, as I’m sure you have seen, there’s sort of become a political conversation surrounding the film, but in reality all we were trying to do with the film is to celebrate the heroes — the CIA and intelligence community and the people who really did put it all on the line and risked their lives for something.  We’re fortunate that it went the right way. It could have very easily gone horribly wrong and people would have felt very differently about it.  It’s a sensitive subject matter and we tried to ensure it was executed in a delicate way.

Would you say there was any particular challenge to working on this project?
No. At the time we filmed it — we filmed it in Santa Fe, New Mexico — the script was really solid and a fair portrayal of what happened.  As an actor, all you really can do is execute the character and bring life to that human being and make sure that they feel human and feel authentic to people watching.  I’ve done films in the past that are based on real life events and it definitely feels different working on a movie like that — because you feel like you have to do your research and really have to know what your talking about.  So I think that’s the biggest challenge, to make sure you’re so immersed in that world that when you walk onto that set and when you walking into that office that you don’t feel like you’re an actor in a movie.  If you’ve done that, then hopefully you’ve done your job.

Then what was it like working with such an illustrious cast on SEAL TEAM SIX?
All of my scenes were with William Fichtner and Eddie Kay Thomas, so I didn’t actually have any scenes with the guys portraying the Seals.  It was very separate.  We shot all of our scenes at the beginning, and we finished and then they filmed the other material with the Seals — which is the way it would have been in real life.  There wouldn’t have been a lot of interaction between them.  So we had it a little easier.  We didn’t have to do weeks and weeks of training.  They definitely put the guys through ringer to make sure they were in top shape to do those scenes.  We had it a little cushier in our CIA offices. [Laughs]

Finally, what would you hope viewers will appreciate about SEAL TEAM SIX?
I think it’s a really great film and I think being the first film to come out about this topic, people are really interested in it.  I think it’s ultimately a movie about these heroes and it’s about acknowledging all of these people, for all Americans.  It’s an important film and I hope people enjoy it.

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?
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?
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”?
[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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
“Which one of you guys shot Bin Laden?”

That’s your burning question?
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?
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.

SEAL TEAM SIX: THE RAID ON OSAMA BIN LADEN is now available for streaming on netflix.com

Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).

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