‘SEAL Team’: Neil Brown Jr. on Ray Trying to Compartmentalize & Being Forced Back Into Support Role With Jason

Neil Brown Jr. as Ray Perry in SEAL Team
Q&A
Monty Brinton/Paramount+

Ray Perry (Neil Brown Jr.) has to compartmentalize a lot in SEAL Team Season 6 — including Bravo and the vet center he and his wife Naima (Parisa Fakhri) want to open — but that’s easier said than done, considering these things would usually be priority 1 … but can’t be.

So far, the team is dealing with the aftermath of Clay (Max Thieriot) losing his leg and leaving Bravo (for now?), as well as Jason (David Boreanaz) and his TBI (he’s getting treatments), and now they might be the ones decommissioned because that rumor? Not just a rumor.

Brown Jr. takes us inside Ray’s head and teases what’s ahead.

How’s Ray feeling about Bravo right now? Sonny (AJ Buckley) said Bravo isn’t Bravo without Clay, but they have to be. And at least Trent’s (Tyler Grey) back.

Neil Brown Jr.: I think he has an overall positive outlook, but he’s back into his role of trying to make sure everybody’s squared away — especially Bravo 1 [Jason] after he’s feeling the weight of what happened to Clay. Also, Ray’s dealing with his own sense of responsibility in what happened to Clay, so if he’s feeling it, the rest of the team’s feeling it. I just think he’s trying to compartmentalize in the best way possible and get the guys moving forward without suppressing what’s going on but dealing with what’s going on. I look forward to seeing how he handles it and pulls the team together and [helps them] realize they’re more than what happened to them.

Ray brought up who fills his shoes with Jason if Bravo survives since Jason relied on Clay a lot before he got hurt. Does Ray feel like he needs to step back into those shoes?

Yes, I would say so at this juncture. He has to. Because Clay was the heir apparent, Clay was the guy that was going to be there for Bravo 1 in case Ray decided to back away, and now that can’t happen, so he’s back into that support role, but while expanding his horizons and seeing if there’s another avenue or another way.

Toni Trucks as Lisa Davis, Neil Brown Jr. as Ray Perry, David Boreanaz as Jason Hayes in SEAL Team

Monty Brinton/Paramount+

There’s also this concern about the team being decommissioned, and as Davis (Toni Trucks) told Jason, Bravo is part of that conversation. How much is that weighing on Ray?

It’s paramount to him right now. When running a mission, they say all the time, win the fight first. This initial fight, the most important fight is to not get decommissioned, so to perform a successful mission in the best way possible, and then address all the other concerns — as I said before, compartmentalizing, putting things in order of importance. First of all, it’s important to keep them from being split apart, and then after that, dealing with how to move forward without Clay. It’s going to be interesting to see how he does handle that. I think there’s things going on in the background that the audience isn’t seeing that Ray is a part of as well.

It’s also keeping them from being blown up again.

Yeah, yeah. But Bravo is pretty sturdy, and they have a strong constitution — and they have become bomb magnets, so to speak, but they make it through.

You brought up compartmentalizing, and Ray has a lot on his plate right now. It seems like the vet center might be what loses out. How much is he struggling when it comes to figuring out how to prioritize everything?

It’s a heavy burden because he has what’s going on with Clay, he has what’s going on with Bravo — specifically what’s going on with Jason — and then the most important family for him is his wife and children, what’s going on with him and Naima, played wonderfully by Parisa Fakhri, their vet center and how that’s moving forward. I think it’s a heavy amount of burden, but Ray is implementing the new tools he has from his therapy, from the knowledge he doesn’t have to be Superman and he can reach out for help. It’s a much healthier way forward, and we’ll see that he has come out better for it through all of the stuff he’s been through.

Neil Brown Jr. as Ray Perry and Parisa Fakhri as Naima Perry in SEAL Team

Monty Brinton/Paramount+

Ray and Naima’s relationship will remain strong during this, right? Even though there is that bit of tension about whether or not he’s retiring when he hits 20…

Yes. They’ve always been the most solid relationship on the show, thanks to our wonderful writers and our showrunner Spencer Hudnut. They all take value in that relationship, in all the relationships, but specifically in this one. This one works, right? There’s mutual respect from the two because they’re both trying to help the world in the way they see fit — one’s a healer, and one’s a protector. Whatever tension they’ve had in the past that put them on shaky ground is no longer there. Now there is more conversation. They talk more. Ray and Naima always did great as long as they talked; it was when Ray clammed up and didn’t talk is when it went bad. At this point, Ray is an open book when it comes to his wife again, and now they’ll find the best way forward for the two of them without causing too much collateral damage amongst the team.

Ray says he has his PTS under control. But Naima was worried, which is understandable…

There’s a difference [between PTS and PTSD]. If he had PTSD, he wouldn’t operate. PTS, which is different than the disorder slightly, you can overcome that. It isn’t a constant thing. It exists, and you can heal from it. He does have post-traumatic stress, but as he’s worked through it and used the tools he’s been given, he’s able to function and operate without it being an issue. He’s very honest with her when he says he takes care of himself because even when she said last season, “you’re back to yourself,” and then he told her, “I’m healing, I’m not healed.” The ultimate goal is to be healed. He’s very honest with her when it comes to that. It would be quite dangerous if he had the syndrome to continue operating. I think it wouldn’t be right for the team because that could very well at any given moment make him freeze, but [with PTS], he’s functioning, just as he tells his wife, and he wouldn’t hold back if something was affecting him.

David Boreanaz as Jason Hayes, AJ Buckley as Sonny Quinn, Raffi Barsoumian as Omar Hamza, Neil Brown Jr. as Ray Perry, Tyler Grey as Trent in SEAL Team

Monty Brinton/Paramount+

We’re going to be meeting Omar (Raffi Barsoumian) in the next episode. How does his introduction to the team go? What’s that dynamic like?

You gotta tune in to see. With anything, there’s [a] certain expectation, and I think it’s very interesting when you do a show and go outside that expectation. Raffi, who plays Omar, is a fantastic actor, and he really brought something different to the show and as well to the team. But like with any new piece to an already made family, it’s not going to be easy. Or it could be. You’ll have to tune in to see. I just think he’s a valuable asset to the show, and you guys are going to appreciate what he does.

Clay’s still recovering, but he hasn’t ruled out operating again and coming back to Bravo. Does Ray think that’s possible?

I believe that Ray believes in Clay, and he always has. And if anyone could overcome an injury like this, it would be Clay. Ray always saw a lot of himself, his younger, more wild child self in Clay, but also saw a path to being the most constant operator. He believes in whatever Clay puts his mind to, he just has to set himself on that path, and obviously, Ray would be there to assist in any way he can.

We’re really seeing Sonny step up for Clay during his recovery. Are we going to be getting any Ray and Clay scenes soon?

Yes. There are scenes I’m very fortunate to have had with my friend Max Thieriot. They’re pretty cool scenes that I was pretty jazzed about. He’s a fantastic actor, and we always have fun, but a lot of times, because of the way the show goes and the priorities of the show, we don’t have as many of these types of conversations between the two of these guys, so there’s some cool stuff coming between them.

What can you say about those scenes or filming them?

They were a lot of fun. And it’s just a joy to see the actors on the show blossom and bring new things to these characters as the writers lay that foundation for us to find and expound upon what they put down on the page. I think it’s just a joy to find the moments between the moments with the particular set of actors I’ve gotten to work with.

Are those scenes just about Bravo or fatherhood, too? Ray could offer Clay some advice!

Ray’s always offered advice to Clay. He’s always sort of been his Yoda. He’s always been guiding him. On the front end, it looks like Jason, but a lot of the advice about marriage and family and things like that and what to do next has come from Ray. You’ll see more of that.

What else is coming up for Ray?

Possible life outside of Bravo and what that could look like. Spencer Hudnut has been adamant about sprinkling in throughout the seasons the possibilities for Ray and his wife Naima outside of Bravo or within Bravo in a different form, and I think we’ll see more of that. And possibly get more concrete decisions.

SEAL Team, Sundays, Paramount+