SEAL Team actor AJ Buckley gave his best advice for fans with aspirations of making a career out of acting
“You’ve got to create your own path,” said Buckley in an interview. “You have to put the work in. There’s no easy way, you have to commit and go after it and most importantly believe. There’s going to be hard days but the hard days make you stronger.”
The actor is no stranger to hard work. Prior to his role on SEAL Team, Buckley had grown disillusioned with the lack of variety in the roles he was offered.
“I was on two series prior to SEAL Team,” the actor explained. “I was on CSI: New York and also recurred on a show called Supernatural. Both characters I was playing these nerdy guys. In one I was this ghost hunter and the other I was a lab rat. When I got off the show I was perceived as this nerdy guy.”
However, Buckley didn’t let this stop him. After a disappointing turn in his career, he resolved to make a change. Casting directors didn’t think he had the physicality to take on the John McClane-type roles he dreamt of—so he got to work.
How Buckley Got His Dream Role on ‘SEAL Team’
Over three years, the actor worked to change his physique to match what action roles called for. Then, he received a phone call from a writer who he had worked with on Justified. His friend had written a role on what would become SEAL Team with Buckley in mind and wanted him to read for the part.
“The last time he saw me, I was out of shape,” Buckley stated. “So when I went into the audition, the casting director who actually knew me from CSI was like ‘what’s happened to you?!’ I said I’ve been working out and they followed to say that I looked great. A week later I found out that I got this role of a lifetime.”
For Buckley, being on SEAL Team is a “dream” because it fulfills his childhood goal of being an action star, while providing him with a substantial and interesting role.
“The show itself follows the tier-one operators, these elite group of Navy SEALS that exist over here,” said Buckley. “They are the best of the best. What I loved about the show when I first read the pilot is that there’s this real human element to these guys that have to go do this as a job. What they choose to go and do and sacrifice.”
The actor holds nothing but respect for veterans. His goal is to honor their sacrifice, and he finds fulfillment in working closely with them. Buckley said that many staff members on the show are former SEAL Team operatives. The show hires them as producers, writers, and even camera operators. He feels this creates a camaraderie on the set that allows for a more honest portrayal.
If anything, Buckley says he is grateful for the impact that they have rad on his life.
“It’s not about the physical strength, it’s about your mental toughness – how strong the mind is and the ability to overcome any obstacle,” the actor clarified. “You kind of start applying that into your daily life. The work ethic, the ability to push through, to get up and go on, in a sense the metaphor ‘no man left behind’. The loyalty that these guys have for each other makes you start implementing that into your daily life.
To Buckley, the show itself has “a life-changing experience,” beyond just getting to play the hero.