David Boreanaz on Directing ‘SEAL Team’ & Leaving Ray on His Own

Cliff Lipson/CBS

When David Boreanaz yells “Action!” he means it.

The actor, who plays courageous team leader Jason Hayes, directed Wednesday’s intense thrill ride of an episode.

Bravo Team has parachuted into the mountains of Kashmir on a top-secret, high-risk mission targeting an influential terrorist leader. They face arduous climbs, an ambush, blazing firefights, and a minefield.

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The CBS drama is now also exploring what life is like after the Teams.

Sniper Ray (Neil Brown Jr.), whose close friendship with Jason is on the rocks, gets separated from the crew when he lands in the wrong spot and his parachute tangles in a tree; reuniting with the team at the “exfil” point means outrunning the bad guys hell-bent on killing him.

The team gives Jason flak for continuing to the target instead of going after Ray. “That weighs heavily from the beginning, but Jason is sure Ray will make it,” says Boreanaz (above, with Tyler Grey and Justin Melnick).

(Erik Voake/CBS)

Shooting took five long days (and some grueling nights) in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. For much of it, Boreanaz opted for handheld and helmet-mounted cameras.

The series’ signature close-in filming style — not to mention the use of authentic SEAL gear and tactics, Blackhawks, and a special military rig that airlifts personnel from terrain where helicopters can’t land — makes viewers feel like they’re part of an actual field op. And the cast isn’t spared any on-the-ground hardships.

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“With full packs, we climbed up the side of a mountain with our camera crew. We were like goats! We started out and we were slipping. We got to the top and it was pretty emotional,” Boreanaz says. “So it was very raw. By Day 3, everyone would limp in. Knees and backs were sore. We were dehydrated, wind-burned, and hating cactus bushes. We looked like we had been through a war.”

If Jason has his way, all his brothers will come home.

Expect more of a focus on their personal lives in May 22’s Season 2 finale. “[Dealing with their emotions] is the show’s backbone,” Boreanaz says. “We just happen to be doing it in a crazy environment.”

SEAL Team, Wednesdays, 10/9c, CBS