Tonight is the series premiere of Enlisted on FOX. The show is about a guy in the Army who is serving overseas and kind of has a breakdown, and he gets sent to a new unit back home…the same unit where his brothers both serve. Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, & Parker Young star as the three Hill brothers. Recently, Geoff took a moment to speak to the press about his role and the show.
On his favorite scene so far
Geoff: That’s tough for me to say, but I think as far as just one quick scene, and it’s not very quick, but the finale scene with my two brothers and Keith David and [me] is really poignant and this is the finale of the last episode, the last scene of the last episode. It’s really poignant for my character and for the arc that the whole show goes on sort of being sort of seen through my eyes in a way or driven by Sergeant Pete Hill. But on a day in, day out basis or episode by episode basis, my favorite scenes are always the scenes that include the whole platoon because I just am so entertained and I got so much respect for our whole cast of characters, the whole platoon, all the comedians and everybody. So for me it’s just fun to be in those scenes, because I’m like you guys; I’m an audience member when it comes to that watching these guys do their comedy.
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On playing a character w/PTSD & comparing it to his character on The Finder
Geoff: Totally two different characters, obviously it’s a similar through line. Pete was a little bit more, I’m sorry, I should say Sergeant Pete Hill from Enlisted is a little bit more grounded in reality. Walter Sherman of The Finder was a little bit more out there if any of you guys watched the show. I got to play with Walter a little bit more and I hesitate to use the word crazy, because that’s not it. He had unorthodox ways of going about things and it was always kind of his excuse or the way he got around it was just like that’s just Walter, Walter being Walter. He was private and he was paranoid and he was a lot of the things that are talked about as symptoms of PTSD Walter had, but we took dramatic license with them and then just sort of figured it out.
What we didn’t have to worry about as much is weren’t doing a show about the military, it was Magnum PI-ish, sort of this guy with a unique ability to find things down in the Florida Keys. So we had a lot of other colorful things around and with Michael Clarke Duncan’s character was such a steady, straight man that I was able to play with the PTSD and Walter and his kind of antics a lot more.
Now with Sergeant Pete Hill and Enlisted, this is a guy that is a current active American Army soldier. He is a sergeant in the Army. What we were trying to play with was the sincerity and the realness that he comes back and there’s nothing wrong with him. He just knows that he’s different. He sees things differently. He feels things differently. He doesn’t know how to describe it. He doesn’t know what it is and that’s with our research and our conversations with people, that is sometimes the way it works.
Now there’s originally everybody was just thrown into one box. You just had PTSD and what they realized is there are just different versions of that and people suffer differently from it; so I did as much as I could to be honest about that. Fortunately for me, but unfortunately my best friend is in the Marine Corps, he served four tours and he suffers from PTSD and he’s got symptoms that are very similar to what Sergeant Pete Hill has because I get to talk to him on the phone.
This is important to me to do right by that and it’s very important to Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce and the rest of the writers and I that we’re not addressing this and shoving it down the viewer’s face and it’s not the hot topic in every episode. It’s just you start to see little traces that something is different in Pete and he’s not sure exactly what it is; and throughout the course of the season, we see how he goes from unwilling to accept that there’s anything wrong, to accepting it, to seeking help, to thinking he’s got it under control, to finding out that maybe he doesn’t quite have it totally under control.
On how the show isn’t just a “military” comedy
Geoff: At its roots, it’s a workplace comedy and it’s a different spin on a family comedy. Our workplace just happens to be set at an Army base; and it’s as if our … is Fort McGee. So if you think about any workplace and if you work with people in an office or wherever you work, there are … of relationships. There are dynamics. There are people that like each other and people that get along with each other, people that don’t get along with each other; but they’re forced to at least get through.
In a place like the Army, we had an opportunity to go to boot camp this summer in Fort Bliss, Texas in El Paso, Texas; and we got to see firsthand what happens. One of the things that blew my mind was, you kind of think like you look at the Army commercials and everybody is going to be, look exactly the same and have the same haircut and they’d be these hardened soldiers.
You get down to this base and it is every color, shape and size person that you can imagine. These people come from all over the country and world, by the way, every ethnic background, every socioeconomic background. And not only are they are forced to just get along, they’re forced to like survive. It’s not the same thing as like I got to get through my nine to five day with a dude that I don’t like. It’s I got to make sure this guy stays alive and I’ve got to be up in the morning working out with this dude and I can’t leave him behind because you never leave somebody behind.
So the dynamic of being forced to work together, forced to live together, forced to eat together. There’s no like if you’re on a base, there is no like you know what? I’m going to run off and go to lunch with the people that I want to go to lunch with. You’re going to lunch with everybody that is in your unit, a platoon. Obviously there’s extenuating circumstances. Not everything it like that, but just to watch that, the workplace is huge. It’s the U.S. Army and if you talk to people that are in the Army or out of the Army, they will tell you that, yes, it gets mundane. It gets long and the silly … happens. It absolutely does. They mess with each other. They prank each other. They figure out ways to make their day entertaining when they a lot of times are doing long hours of stuff that can seemingly be very boring, so yes, I was excited. This is a huge canvas, the U.S. Army workplace, that we get to paint.
On what he likes about his character
Geoff: There aren’t a lot of men’s men on television right now. What I think Pete is, he’s a man’s man. He loves his country. He loves his family. He’s devoted to his job. He’s willing to die for his country and he’s willing to die for his brothers. He’s very devoted to them and devoted to his job. He wants to go back overseas and be in theatre as they refer to it with his brothers in arms.
What I think is unique about him is this is a guy that is for all intents and purposes, he’s a soldier of fortune. He’s perfect. He’s strong. He’s strong. He’s referred to as the strongest guy that many people had ever seen, physically, mentally, all those reasons; but we find out that there are chinks in his armor, too. What I like about that was not only did we find out that there were chinks in his armor and that he needed help, but he got to a point where he realized it was okay to ask for help and he dealt with that. We as we find out as the season goes on, that he may not be quite—he feels like he fixed himself and everything was all good, but he may not have fixed himself quite as much as he thinks he did.
Unique, I’m sure there have been other people on TV, but I feel like the dynamic between him being a soldier, him suffering from PTSD, him being his brother’s boss during the day and just a big brother at night trying to work that fine line and that strange dynamic, there’s just a lot of stuff that I get to play with that makes Pete very interesting for me.
On whether or not members of the armed forces will guest star on the show
Geoff: We already have. We have military people on the show every single day. All of Jill’s squad is former Army. There are Air Force people on set. There are former Rangers on set that are background that have speaking roles. One of our military advisors played a role in it. We have military on set every day from morning till night.
That’s all from Geoff, but be sure to tune in tonight on FOX at 8:30/7:30c for the premiere of Enlisted!