I spoke with Kyle Schmid about his role as Alex Caulder in SIX, which premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on HISTORY. Kyle was the legendary Robert Morehouse in Copper, one of my all-time favorite shows. BBC America really let its viewers down by cancelling that masterpiece. He did a brilliant job bringing Morehouse to life and you can certainly expect the same from his portrayal of Alex. Kyle talked about his character, the training that the cast went through, how they were able film those intense scenes, his appreciation of what real-life soldiers do and their sacrifices, his visit to the White House, and so much more. He stars alongside an incredible cast that consists of Walton Goggins, Edwin Hodge, Barry Sloane, Juan-Pablo Raba, Dominic Adams, Nadine Velazquez, Brianne Davis, and Nondumiso Tembe. Walton Goggins is confirmed awesome yet again. Don’t miss the premiere of SIX this Wednesday, January 18 on HISTORY.
LL: I have to say, it’s an honor to be speaking with the legendary Morehouse.
Kyle Schmid: Good old Morehouse. Yet another war veteran.
LL: Yes. Copper was one of the best shows. Do you still keep in touch with any of the cast?
Kyle Schmid: Dylan Taylor and I see Kevin Ryan every once in a while. Tom Weston-Jones has been in London.
LL: I just watched the premiere of SIX and I really enjoyed it.
Kyle Schmid: I’m so glad. It’s been a lot of hard working going into this thing.
LL: The premiere opens rather intensely and I think that helps put things into perspective and helps flesh out the characters.
Kyle Schmid: Absolutely. We got really lucky with the cast.
LL: Can you talk about what it was like filming those combat scenes?
Kyle Schmid: Let’s just say that we did a week of SEAL training—kind of a prep course that prepared us for the physical and mental aspect of what we were going to go through. We did weeks upon weeks of guns and ammunition training. We were using real weapons and running around in full kits with all the real plates and everything that they wear. It really takes the acting out of it—when you are hearing live rounds going off two or three feet from you. The explosions were real 90% of the time. Your reactions are real and you, kind of, learn to tune so much of it out so you can mentally function at a higher level and react to those scenarios to the best of your ability. It was tense. It was scary at times. It definitely pushed our own comfort zone to a different level. What you see, and the intensity that we hope the audience feels, is close to, but not nowhere near, what we were actually feeling at the time.
LL: It was incredible to watch.
Kyle Schmid: It was all very real for us. I think that was something that helped get the most out of all of the actors. It takes so much of the acting out of it. They gave us the tools that we needed to react and move forward in those high stress environments.
LL: Did the cast get a chance to speak with any soldiers and their families to get a firsthand account of what they go through?
Kyle Schmid: We had consultants that worked on the show. The lead consultant on the show was a gentleman by the name of Mitchell Hall. He’s a SEAL vet and an incredible guy. We were very blessed to have him on the show. He’s worked on award-winning shows. I’m not sure what he’s put his name on because so much of that is still secret. We had a few other guys that just wanted to stay in the background. We worked with them for weeks and I’m very grateful to have had their input. They were generous enough to share their experiences with us.
LL: I saw Walton Goggins posting pictures of your visit to the White House. What was that experience like? [Walton joked about Boyd Crowder entering the White House. Another incredible show gone too soon. Can we please have Justified and Copper back?]
Kyle Schmid: A Canadian representing the U.S. military, going to the White House, and meeting one of the best first ladies that I think there has ever been in that world. I was elated. I was, kind of, shocked. I think we all felt like we didn’t quite belong there because of the people that surrounded us. We went there in support of Joining Forces, a charity that Michelle Obama works on with with Jill Biden. We’re just actors trying our best to portray these real-life heroes. We were surrounded by so many of them and I think we just felt very humbled by the whole experience and very lucky to be there.
LL: Do you think that the series is going to shed some light on what the soldiers and their families go through?
Kyle Schmid: We hope so, we really do. That’s the goal of it. We try and take a lot of the fluff out of it. There are so many of these Hollywood films that glamorize what these gentlemen do on a regular basis. Many of them don’t take into account that they have to come back from these huge missions, where they are expected to do the unthinkable, and then come home and function on their regular platform. They have to take their kids to school, or go and visit their parents, or try and just be normal human beings. I think that this should definitely shed some light on that and serve hopefully as a reminder to Americans, and other people, that we really have to be thankful for the sacrifices that they make because it’s not something that people talk about. That’s such an incredible character trait that these SEALs ,and so many others in the military, have is the generosity of those sacrifices. To come home, and so many times those missions that they’ve been on are classified, and they can’t speak about what they’ve done, or they don’t want to speak about what they’ve done, because there are no words to describe them. They come home and people don’t know what they’ve been through and they don’t need the thanks because they don’t want it. They look at this as a responsibility that they’ve taken on for the greater good of America. I think it’s important for Americans to see a little bit of that so that they can have some understanding, and hopefully a greater respect, for these soldiers.
LL: I think the only disappointing thing about the premiere was that Alex didn’t get his Footloose moment at the Quinceanera. It really seemed like you were going to get your “let’s dance” moment at the party.
Kyle Schmid: [Laughing] I think that got left on the cutting room floor.
LL: Did they actually have it in there? [Now I really feel cheated. Did someone say extended cut/DVD extras? Please, HISTORY, please!]
Kyle Schmid: Yes, they did. We took an entire day to shoot that scene. We shot so much footage for the first couple of episodes that it had to be cut. They had to keep on the television schedule. There is so much material that has to be cut out of the show because when you put six or seven brothers together who have developed this amidst chemistry, this amidst relationship, you can’t help but constantly rib on each other and just take scenes to a different level. The best producers and writers are the ones that will allow you go with the flow. Our dialog became our own and we just start making things up. There is only so much room in an hour of television.
LL: Alex seems like a wildcard in the premiere. He has some pretty tense moments with Bear (Barry Sloane) in the premiere. Can you talk about him and his relationships within the team, and outside of the team?
Kyle Schmid: I think there are two ways that I can explain the way that I approached him—the way that I approached him from the beginning, and the way that I think he grows throughout the series. That was something that happened unexpectedly, and quite organically, through me growing with the show and this group of guys, and also with the material from the writers. Originally I saw him as this honest philosopher playboy. He comes from a broken family. He was abused by his single mother. He’s self-educated and strived to be a good person based on his surroundings. He got his high school girlfriend pregnant at a young age and he felt lost in the world that was fighting him every day, so he decided to join the military. In doing that, he found something that he was finally truly good at. He also found a brotherhood that had his back, which is something that he had missed out on with his own family growing up. He tries to be this moral compass in a truly grave world, which is these missions and what is right and wrong. These lengths that these guys are willing to go to to protect one another, to protect America, so he tries to make the right decision in the hardest environment.
Then I think we see what happens when you are surrounded by having to make that decision over and over again and having those decisions affect your family—your brotherhood. You see him begin to maybe waiver in his morality, in his ethical judgement of things because there is a gray area, it’s not always black and white. I think that’s an important thing to, kind of, touch on in the show.
He also has his daughter. The relationship that he has with his daughter is very interesting. Someone who considers himself a lone wolf when he comes home, which is how he deals with the side effects, emotionally and mentally, of going in and out of these deployments. He was the point man of the team. That means that he’s the first person to stick his head around the corner and potentially have it blown up. There’s a mindset that goes along with that, in my opinion, and I think in Alex’s, that if you have to put yourself out there on that ledge on a daily basis with the responsibility of having to come home to a family, or your daughter, or loved ones, that responsibility becomes very, very heavy. Maybe you know that you need to make it home to make that next college tuition payment, or maybe you know you need to come home because you have to drive your mother to chemo next week. For Alex, he cuts those responsibilities out of his life and although that may be selfish and irresponsible to his family back home, in his head that is one of the most responsible things that he’s ever done for his brothers while he’s out on the missions. That’s one of the biggest sacrifices that he’s had to make in his life. You see him go through that struggle when Dharma (Lindsley Register) comes back into his life, in the first few episodes.
Kyle Schmid: Well, they are all assholes. [Laughing] No, no I love these guys. I guess to touch on that I can go into a little bit of the SEAL training that we did for the show. They ran us through a four-day hell week. We discovered things about ourselves that we didn’t even realize were issues—we didn’t even realize that were there. It knocked every little piece of ego out of all of us. We got to watch each other cry. We got to hold each other when we cried. [Laughing] We got to push each other to the next level and ultimately succeed through this training. That developed a relationship between the six of us that is a bond that we’ll have for the rest of our lives. I’m closer to these guys than some of the people that I’ve know for ten years. I would trust them with my life. That’s only just the peak of the training, the tip of the iceberg, we only just touched on it. I can’t imagine what the real heroes go though in all of their training. There is a brotherhood there, there’s a family that’s so incredibly admirable. I wish so many of the people in this world could feel the way that we felt. Acting aside, those friendships will last forever and I’m so appreciative of that. Working with these guys—they are all phenomenal. Barry Sloane is so good at what he does and he’s so good at playing Graves, I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the part. That goes for every other actor. Everyone owns their roles in the show.
How blessed was I to be able to work with Walton Goggins? He came on and took control, and took the lead, so much so like his character does in the first episode. He is our leader. He took control and gave us so much confidence, so much guidance, and pushed us all to a point, I think as actors, that we didn’t even know was possible. A lot of the time, you don’t get to take the time to take things as far as you truly want to. He taught us some very valuable lessons, and I’m very grateful to be able to work with someone like him. He’s incredible in the show. I can’t wait for people to see where it goes.
The women on the show were also phenomenal. Brianne Davis, Nadine Velazquez, and Nondumiso Tembe—I mean they were the show. You talk about strong women in this industry, they are some of the strongest that I’ve met. They are so talented and on top of that their characters are the responsible ones that ground these guys when they come home from war. They represent that so well. I think people are going to love that aspect of the show.
LL: It’s really good. I think it will even appeal to people who don’t typically like military dramas. There is something in it for everyone. You guys were also incredible together, so that definitely helps.
Kyle Schmid: Absolutely! There is so much in the show that’s incredible.
SIX premieres Wednesday, January 18 at 10/9c on HISTORY.
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Joining Forces: https://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces