The Terminal List star Chris Pratt explains how former Navy SEALs helped show pass the 'sniff test'
In Prime Video's action-conspiracy-thriller The Terminal List, Chris Pratt plays James Reece, a Navy SEAL attempting to get to the bottom of a conspiracy that resulted in the deaths of his entire platoon during a covert operation in Syria. The show is based on the 2018 book by author Jack Carr, a former SEAL himself who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Pratt explains to EW that the production undertook immense efforts to make sure the depictions of military personnel look as realistic as possible.
"The bar we set was pretty high for ourselves," says the actor, whose costars on the show include Taylor Kitsch and Constance Wu. "We were hoping to be convincing to people who were former spec [special] operators, and so we surrounded ourselves with those people. We had a handful of Navy SEALS that we hired that stayed with us through the run of the whole show, both in front of and behind the camera. They could make sure that each of our movements were authentic, and that the camaraderie was there, and whatever type of bravado would be there to be believable."
"Really, it was about the tactics," Pratt continues. "When it came to tactical movements, that's stuff that you can't really fake and that's where the homogeny lives amongst these men. Because you've got tall SEALs, short SEALs, thin, fat, buff, tatted, clean-cut. But tactically, an operator can spot an operator when they're carrying a weapons system, and how they transition from one gun to another, or hold their weapon, or go around a corner. So that was all stuff that was intense training to get us up to par as much as we could be. They were always there to say, 'No, we need you to do it again for this reason,' or 'Your thumbs were a little high on that,' or 'Make sure you pull that gun into your shoulder,' or whatever it is. So we had them giving us that sniff test to make sure we passed the bar."
In the show's first episode, which was directed by executive producer Antoine Fuqua, former military personnel were on hand to help guide, and appear in, the massacre that wipes out Reece's comrades.
"We had to build the tunnel system on a backlot at Paramount and flood the whole thing with water, [because] it's meant to be a Syrian tunnel system," Pratt says. "And, man, it was really, really intense. It was hard work. We were right at the beginning of COVID. The pilot was 22 days, which is a lot for a television show, and I think four or five of those days was spent in the tunnels. We were up to our waste in this disgusting water that's made to look like sewage. It's dark and everyone other than me and maybe a couple of actors are actual former Navy SEALs. The level of authenticity is so real, that you almost don't get to see a lot of it because it is dark. We could have illuminated the whole thing with a string of lights but then the question comes up, so why would these Syrian loyalists have a string of lights leading to their underground lair? That's not real! So our team of tech advisors would come in, and they'd be like, that doesn't work, that doesn't work, that doesn't work, that doesn't work. And so they kind of removed all the Hollywood sauce that you're used to, and it felt more real that way and created this fog-of-war fight sequence."
The intense premiere episode — and the other seven episodes of season 1 — debuts July 1 on Amazon Prime Video. Watch The Terminal List's trailer below.
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