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Barry Sloane: Liverpool’s Secret Weapon

Barry Sloane may not be a Navy SEAL, but he’s sure beginning to know what it feels like to be one. The Liverpool native is the star of the History Channel’s critically-acclaimed series, SIX, Sloane portrays Joe “Bear’ Graves, a Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator for the U.S. Special Naval Warfare Group, which most people know as SEAL Team Six. As the second season of SIX is about to debut, Sloane took a few moments to speak to AQ about the physical preparation required for portraying a Navy SEAL on screen.

What’s a nice lad from Liverpool doing with a Western Pennsylvanian accent in a Navy SEAL operation?
(Laughs). It’s a long way from home. When you’re from Liverpool, you have to learn to do different accents, because with the class system in the UK, a Liverpool accent can be very limiting to access roles, so you better get used to doing new accents quickly. Western Pennsylvania is just another box that I’ve ticked along the way when it comes to accents (laughs)!

How was the filming of the second season of SIX?
It was amazing. I’ve seen the first few episodes after post-production, and it’s in amazing shape. If you followed the characters around the pathways in the first season, this year you’ll get invited to go a little further into their minds, and I think it will be interesting to watch.

How did you prepare for this role?
When we started, we knew that when we signed up for a military-style show, there was going to be some type of boot camp or indoctrination. And of course you have to be in decent shape in the first place to represent these guys, who have worked and trained most days since they were 16. So we were in fairly decent shape to begin with, but then we were sent to SEALFIT in California, and we were put through an incredibly tough four-day mini hell-week. It was a scaled-down, safer version. But there was sleep deprivation. There was an awful lot of body weight work, a lot of log PT’s, a lot of ocean swims, a lot of runs, a lot of hikes, a lot of weight vests. We were put to a test on the first day to see what our actual physical limits were. and then they took us way past them (laughs).

How difficult was that for you?
It was a lot of fun, but it stopped being about physical performance after about three hours. It became how strong your mind was. They strengthened that muscle more than every other one, and we’re all better men because of it. It bonded us as well. Going through something like that, it’s as close as you can get to a war-like scenario—a shared pain—and I think it resonates on camera. For season two, we were put on a bus in the morning. We went up to Garibaldi National Park in BC (British Columbia), and we started walking, and we didn’t stop walking for four days. But in the middle of that, we camped out in the snow. We had to use all of our navigational skills. We ended up summiting Blackfoot. We didn’t think we would actually have to climb the mountain, but we did. It was a little hairy up there, but life-changing, and an incredible experience for us. Prior to the season two premiere, the History Channel will show a little of the training we did.

Did you have to learn different skills for season two of the show?
I’m very fortunate in this career that you get to try other lifestyles out. With something like this, it’s also important to bring the lads back together, so we were hanging out in a log cabin. So we were sitting around the fire, telling stories and drinking beers. Cooking food and sharing stories with the SEALs. It’s always important to learn these new skills, especially on the range. I don’t care if I can hit the target, but it’s important to me that I can actually look like I’m using the gun with proficiency.

Did you have to change your diet for the training? You must have been burning calories like mad.
When we did SEALFIT, they were feeding us incredible amounts of food, because we were burning it off in a second. But then, we were basically given a budget, and we took only the food we needed to survive for those four days, and if you got it wrong, you were screwed. (laughs).

Did you suffer any injuries during all this?
My meniscus in my knee went prior to last season. I was doing a show called Longmire, so it happened when I was pre-training for SEAL, but nothing I couldn’t push through. We are wearing the weight vest the whole time we are filming, because our technician wants us to move as we would with the weight a SEAL carries, so it’s a strain. But it’s a small price to pay to get to represent these guys who do it for real while they are getting shot at, so I have no complaints.

When you were a young man, you had to make a choice that would change your life forever— Liverpool or Everton. So for your young son, how will he decide between LAFC or LA Galaxy? First of all you don’t get a choice whether it’s Liverpool or Everton. You are given it by your father. You don’t get to question it. You just are, and that’s it. For me, I married an Everton fan, so now we have a battle. I know my son is going to support Liverpool eventually. He’ll play ball. As far as LAFC and La Galaxy go, I am a founding father member of LAFC, so it’s easy. I’ll have a seat there waiting for him. So I’ll indoctrinate him and brainwash him as my father did with me, so he’ll have that legacy as well!

Barry Sloane stars in season two of SIX, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on HISTORY.

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