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A.J. Buckley On Bringing His Experience As A Father To 'SEAL Team': 'You Worry About All The Things That Can Potentially Happen To You'

(CBS) - SEAL Team is back with a new episode tonight at 9:00PM ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+. The latest installment in the military drama is titled "Reckoning" and will see the team adjusting to Ray's new position as well as the fallout from last week's bombshell that Sonny is expecting a child.

CBS' Matt Weiss spoke to A.J. Buckley, who plays Sonny, about this week's episode, the show's dedication to employing veterans and crying during reality television.

MW: Good morning A.J., happy to see you today! Some big news for your character Sonny last week with the news that he's going to become a father. As a father yourself, what's it like to bring that real-world experience to the character?

AJB: It allows me to tap into the overwhelming feeling of being a father. Once I had my daughter I started crying watching reality singing competitions. [laughs] I see my daughter at ballet class or something and it chokes me up. For me one of the biggest things about being a dad too is you realize you're mortal for the first time. First you worry about death, you worry about all the things that can potentially happen to you and not being there for your kids. I think that's a terrifying thing.

I think adding that into a character like Sonny who is a knuckle dragger, who is okay with dying on the battlefield he never had to actually think about that; is a really cool piece to his character.

MW: What kind of impact will this have now with Davis and the rest of the team?

AJB: You know, we're going to go through some bumps for sure, but I think Davis being the strong woman that she is she will use her ability to be understanding. I think she's provides the strength that allows Sonny to get his stuff together and handle it the way that he should instead of hiding from it or not talking about.

I think his big worry too is that he's going to lose her. He's finding a place in his life where he can say the words, I love you. This is the girl that he finally can be himself with. He's kind of known that but it's just taking a long time to get around that corner. Then when he's finally here now, he's got a kid with another girl and adding chaos into his already chaotic life. Then add in having to then be deployed in the middle of it and trying to compartmentalize these emotions and focus at the task at hand, it becomes challenging.

MW: This week's episode is called "Reckoning." What do we have in store coming up?

AJB: The team's adjusting to Ray's new position with him being in charge. Hiding the fact that this terrorist, the guy that torture him is now our target. On top of that when we're actually on deployment, I end up getting shot and have to go to the hospital and by doing this it bring things back to light where I've got a kind of come clean with Davis.

I let her know why I've been acting the way that I have and realizing that the only way to deal with being on the battlefield and being a father the best I can do is to have a clear head and some openness with my team and with Davis.

MW: The thing that I love most about SEAL Team is the work you guys do with real life veterans. I know you have a bunch who are employed by the show. Can you talk about the shows dedication to working with these veterans and the authenticity that it provides?

AJB: It's something that I'm probably the most proud of. I think what CBS has done they've really gone out of their way to stand behind what they mean. It's Hollywood you know people just sort of use platforms and a lot of times veterans get taken advantage of but this show has really made history in the sense that we have more veterans hired on our show than any other show in television history.

We have guys who came on straight off deployment that are now writing and writing or work as  producers on the show. We have a director, the guy that's directing our episode right now, Tyler Gray who came on as a tech advisor on the pilot and last year he got an opportunity to direct, wasn't even in the DGA. Turns out he's an absolutely phenomenal director. He's a storyteller at heart. Now he's directing the second episode and he's the glue that keeps our show together.

Just to see this community that we've built, guys that come home are able to use their skills that they've learned and transition into a job. I always crack up with Tyler, I see him on set directing, and you have to work with every single department and the stress level is through the roof, but he never looks stressed. He looks and he goes, nah this is not stress. I'm like, I got it, I got it, you got bullets shot past you, that's real stress. He lives for that chaos.

To most people it would be so overwhelming but that's where he thrives. I'm incredibly proud of him. I'm incredibly proud to be working with CBS. I've worked with them for 15 years from CSI to this and this is something that I can look back in my career and think what a cool experience. The veterans I've gotten to meet, the foundations I got to be part of, the stories that we can tell, it's incredible.

The men and women that we are representing are working with us day in and day out and their voices need to be heard. We get to use our platform to bring awareness to the men and women coming home with invisible wounds of war. They go through all that so you, myself, and everybody else here, we have  freedom in this great country of ours.

MW: It's a great show but knowing that's all going on behind the scenes really adds another layer to it.

AJB: Thank you!

MW: Thank you so much for the time A.J., pleasure talking to you my friend.

AJB: You too man!

Tune in for new episodes of SEAL Team, Wednesday nights at 9:00PM ET/PT on CBS and streaming with Paramount+. Check your local listings for more information.


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