Justin: Awesome. I’m chatting with Chris Gordon on Hellblazerbiz.
Chris: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and good night wherever you may be in the world right now. This is Hellblazerbiz, and I am your host, the one and only, Christ Gordon. Hey. Thanks to all for tuning in, whether it be iTunes, YouTube, Buzzsprout, TuneIn.com, Spotify, or Google Play, I welcome each and everyone and express my gratitude to you for the support. I can’t even get my words out on that, I’m so grateful.
Chris: For those of you, for the Seal Teamers as well, I’ll thank you at the end, but thank you so much for the support you’re showing, and please, what an amazing fandom to be a part of, I’ve got to say. It’s probably one of the best ones I’ve been in with terms of welcoming and just general integration and interactions. You are amazing people. Thank you so much.
Chris: So this week’s guest is exciting for me, and I’m sure is exciting for you too, currently on my favorite TV show out there. He’s is Brock. He is actually a former police officer and a canine handler too. He’s now kicking ass on screen. So without further adieu, I introduce to you, Justin Melnick.
Chris: Brilliant, okay, everyone I have the honor and the pleasure, privilege of the company of Justin Melnick. I really appreciate you taking the time out to do this. I know you’re really pushed for time, because you’re currently on set filming.
Justin: No, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me here.
Chris: No worries. We’ve got so many questions. We’re going to have to do this … We’re going to have to do a second one. That’s the perfect invite for you to come back on.
Justin: Sounds great man.
Chris: Excellent, cool. I normally think up a load of questions for myself, but as I said, I’ve had so many sent in from people I thought I’ll just hit away and yeah, you’ve been really popular. As soon as I mentioned that you’re coming on, everyone jumps to it. I had a great chat with Judd earlier this week as well.
Justin: Oh, fantastic. I love Judd. He’s the best.
Chris: Yeah he is. Neil’s just accepted. He told me to message him as well, so hopefully I’ll might be able to schedule Neil too.
Chris: I’ll capture you all like Pokemon.
Justin: That’s good man.
Chris: Excellent, well I break straight in with the questions, because I know you have to go, so will get in as many before you have to run as possible.
Justin: Sure, sounds good
Chris: So apologies for those who have sent them in. I’ll keep them all and then hopefully Justin and I can talk again next time.
Justin: I’ll be back for seconds
Chris: Brilliant, so “Melsan” sent one, “is do you enjoy playing Brock and also having Dita with you, with the other actors?”
Justin: It’s like a dream come true. Some kids grow up idolizing Superman or Batman, for me, I always idolized these guys, being able to portray a Navy Seal on camera is one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me, just the cherry on the cake is being able to come to work with my best friend every single day. So she’s with me at work. She’s with me at home. It makes it so incredible.
Chris: I can imagine. I can imagine. Is she with you now?
Justin: Yeah, she’s just in kennel. She just had some breakfast.
Chris: Ah, lovely.
Justin: I’ll grab her, so you can tell. Ah, right here, come here, paws.
Chris: Ah, hey, gorgeous.
Justin: Okay, Diets, back in the kennel.
Chris: She’s winning the hearts of everyone I think.
Justin: She brings so much joy to everyone on set. She runs around. They get to play with her, it de-stresses the entire environment. It’s awesome.
Chris: Excellent, excellent, I’ve just watched the episode, season one, episode 16, where the guy went to stab her, and it looked like she had been stabbed, and there’s blood everywhere-
Justin: Oh, yeah.
Chris: … and both of us are just sitting with tears in our eyes like, “No please don’t.”
Justin: No, it was great. It was super emotional. You see your best friend covered in blood. It’s pretty easy to get into character right then and there.
Chris: I can imagine. I can imagine. You guys, you go back. Which is the next question is from Camille Bonus as well, because obviously you and Dita do go back. Do you miss being a full-time cop?
Justin: I was never full, full-time, so I always did it as a part-time job, but yeah, I entirely miss my team and my brothers. I’m actually jumping on a plane tomorrow night to fly back to Indiana. We do our Annual Shop With a Cop, where we take all the less fortunate kids from the community to Walmart and buy them Christmas gifts.
Justin: So Dita and I will leave work tomorrow, jump on a red-eye, land at about 5:00 AM, where I’ll have one of my units waiting to pick us up, drive to the police department, shower, get cleaned up, put on our uniforms, and go out and hang out with our community for a little bit, and then fly back to Los Angeles that night. So I miss it enough to not sleep for a day to go see everybody.
Chris: Yeah, that is pretty cool. Is it weird going from an ordinary life, lifestyle, as a cop, like an ordinary person in a way to being a TV star?
Justin: No, I wouldn’t say I’m a TV star, but I get pretty fortunate. The guys on our set remind me of my cop brothers and my buddy … military. I get to work a lot with different police units out here in California on training and get to stay pretty involved and pretty present in it, so it’s not a weird transition. I think if you had me working on a TV show playing like a British butler or something
Chris: Yeah, totally different.
Justin: Completely different, it might a little bit hard to flip back and forth from your mind space, but other than that, we train every day. We’re on set every day. We all work out every day. It’s pretty regimented. It feels like my old life, except for the fact that people are bringing us protein shakes during the day and pampering us with makeup and hair and comfortable wardrobe clothes. It’s pretty cool.
Chris: Awesome, awesome. I’ve got actually leading right into the question perfectly here, Justin. I’ve got Linda and Riley Cox, now these are dear friends of mine, Riley is a Vietnam vet with the 101st Airborne and 75th Ranger Regiment and things he went through, I haven’t got time, but I’d love to tell you about his time in Vietnam, et cetera he’s a really great guy.
Chris: They’ve been avid watchers of the show. They absolutely love it. They ask what did you do physically to be able to portray what the Seals do? Riley hasn’t once said that you carry weapons wrong or enter the situation wrong. Apparently he always does that. He’s not said it once with the Seal team.
Justin: So we have an amazing team of guys. The show alone has over 300 vets working on it.
Justin: We have everything from guys from Seal Team Six and Delta Force all the way down to Coast Guard, not that Coast Guard is at the bottom-
Chris: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Justin: Representing most of the armed forces. We’ve got guys from the National Guard. We’ve got guys that are reservists that are a part of our show, so we’ve got Vietnam vets that work in hair in makeup. We actually have a Vietnam vet that works in hair and makeup.
Justin: We’ve got a naval hull technician that works in electric. We have writers in the writer’s room that were Seal Team members. We’ve got technical advisors that were from the Seal Team stunt guys that were Seal Team Marine Recon. We’ve got everything.
Justin: When it comes to working out, all the guys are really motivated to be in shape and really, truly portray the physical characters of the men that they’re playing. You know?
Justin: This show is made by people because we love these people. We respect these guys, these men and these women that are sacrificing everything, so when it comes down to crossing the “i’s” or dotting the “t’s” we spare no expense. If it means being up at 3:00 AM to work out before 4:00 AM call time, we’re at the gym working out. Sometimes we work out together, sometimes alone. We’ve got a gym on CBS.
Justin: If not, if we’re up in the mountains, we’ll go for a run, but all of our gear is real, everything. Our vests are all real. Our uniforms are all real. Our guns are real. Obviously, we shoot blanks. Our breaches, our explosive breaches, are all real breaches that we build. Then the special effects guys will fire them off just for safety reasons, but everything’s a 100% real.
Chris: Fantastic, that is really good. How did you land the job, Roel Tamasi was asking as well, how did you land the role on Seal Team?
Justin: Well I knew Mark Owen, who was one of the executive producers of the show that he wrote up called No Easy Day and No Hero. I knew him from when he was still on the Seal Team. Tyler Gray, who’s the Delta Force guy that plays Trent, that was … He was a producer on the show as well and a technical advisor. When they were doing the pilot, they wanted a dog for it.
Justin: So my police dog is a single-purpose female narcotics dog. But by the bite sleeve, just because it’s a toy to her, she won’t bite a human, she’ll bite a toy, she’s not … she looks aggressive on camera, and so she … They brought me in to do the … to bring the dog down essentially. I ended up bringing up all my gear down for the show.
Justin: When we got down there, the gear was kind of off, so we used all my equipment for the show. Then the executive producers kind of looked at me and they’re like, “Well, you look like you could be a Seal, and you know how to move and do CQB, close quarter’s battle, and hold the gun and shoot, so why don’t you just be the dog handler on the team?”
Justin: Then from there, just being part of the team, they … Over time I started getting lines, learning how to act. I had the best acting teachers in the world, David and Neil Brown, Max Thieriot and AJ, and Judd, Toni etc
Chris: I know. It’s an awesome cast. It really is.
Justin: You know, and Tyler, these guys are phenomenal actors. They spent years perfecting their craft, so every day, five days a week, you’re sitting at a table and when you don’t have dialog, you can watch and pick up on all the small details of what they do and how they do their craft. It’s phenomenal. So I went to the acting school of Seal Team for a couple episodes and they started giving me lines.
Justin: Then they started giving me more lines. Which was fantastic. But I’m still … These guys are such good actors that I don’t compare anywhere close to them, so I get thrown a line here or there as a treat, but primarily the show is about those guys. They do such a perfect job portraying these guys.
Justin: I know a lot of these guys in real life. Man, and I said this to David Boreanaz the day I met him … We had another person playing Jason Hayes initially on the pilot. Then they stopped filming the pilot. They brought him in.
Justin: I had no idea who he was. I’ve never heard of or seen Bones. I’m not much of a TV watcher. I know who Jason Hayes is. I know Jason Hayes a 100 times over. I’m sitting there, and I’m on the monitors behind the director.
Justin: I’ve got my little contacts in. I’m listening. It’s a scene with him and Jess Pare after we killed the bad guy, when we were supposed to bring him back alive. He’s apologizing. I’m getting goosebumps right now. I’m thinking about it.
Justin: He comes up on that monitor, and I’m like, “Whoa, whoa,” goosebumps everywhere. I don’t know who this guy is, but he’s amazing. He crushed it. The show’s really, to me, capturing the ideas. It’s like we want to tell the story of what these guys go through, the sacrifices these men and women make.
Justin: Yeah, yeah, their job could be dangerous. Yeah, they could get hurt, but let me know … sorry, let me know what you think, but I truly think the things that people forget is that these guys are sacrificing things like anniversaries, birthdays, seeing their babies born, losing an eye, a leg, an arm, those things that you have to live with.
Justin: Losing marriages, losing the woman you love because it doesn’t work out when you’re gone 200 days a year at work, so yeah, these guys are heroes to every single one of the cast members. The show is really about talking about their lives and showing their lives.
Chris: Yeah, and there was a heartbreaking scene, the story line has come in, like you say, between Jason and his wife, everyone, just the tension there. It is, it’s great to see it from the other side, like say from the few people who are left at home worrying. It is.
Chris: It’s very, very powerful. I think that’s why it’s loved by everybody. The amount of respect that I’ve got, and I think everyone who watches the show has got, and like I say you guys to hear that you do it because you’re so passionate and supportive of the guys who do this for real.
Chris: I mean I haven’t got the balls, and I never would, to go and do what these guys do, or even you, as when you’re a police officer, to be honest, and some of the situations, I’m sure you came across then. But so it’s like yeah just to see it being done so well and so … and when I’m talking to you and talking to Judd, the passion behind it. It’s just exudes out. That’s just really, really good to see.
Justin: Yeah, I feel blessed. It’s a dream come true. If you had told me I was going to be acting on a TV show two years ago I would have been like, “What are you talking about?”
Justin: It’s incredible. The people that you work with every day, you come onto set, and they all have one common goal, and that’s to make a TV show.
Justin: Rush it, there’s no no. It’s like let’s figure out how to do this. Okay, wait, I get it. It’s complicated, but let’s figure this out, and let’s put it all together.
Justin: It’s so inspiring.
Chris: I can imagine. It’s just … It sounds such a fantastic sort of set and fantastic place to be. I’ve got two more questions for you, because I know … I’m looking at the time now, and even-
Justin: I haven’t been summoned yet, so I’ve got until they knock on the door, and then they’ll have to go, it’s cool
Chris: No worries. No worries. I’ll shoot this question. This is from Stacy. You might know Stacy. She’s a huge fan on Twitter. She tweets everyone. She says … She goes, she knows you’re …
Chris: She’s always bombing you on Instagram and Twitter, so apparently within everyone on the cast. She’s asked … This is about Dita, how long do you train her per day before shooting a new episode? What’s the kind of routine?
Justin: Zero, zero training per episode. Every day we train in some capacity, whether it’s obedient-based stuff or fetch or narcotics detection training, but when we’re on set, if her … if it’s an episode where she finds a booby trap or an explosive device, all we’re doing is we have cotton balls that had been imprinted with narcotic odors.
Justin: So we’ll hand those cotton balls up into the device. She’ll actually … I’ll send her out on a search. She’ll search. She’ll find the device. She’ll indicate, look back at me, and look at the device.
Chris: Yeah, fantastic.
Justin: If it’s climbing a latter, all I’ll do first is inspect the ladder myself. I’ll climb it. I’ll make sure it’s strong and sturdy. I’ll scout the area for broken glass, nails or anything that could have come off of construction, … that episode where she climbed that ladder to jump through that window, that was one take, one time.
Justin: Then we did it a second time with the camera on her back.
Justin: If she’s got to jump through a car window, just it’s all within her … It’s all natural for her. She’s not a bite dog. The bite stuff is all toy. It’s her bite toy.
Chris: Yeah, so she’s trained to do that. We’ve actually just watched the episode and thought it was hilarious. I think it was when you … If you can remember way back to season one, you just had been deployed to Afghanistan, but Dieter, your service, in the show is climbing the ladder to the bed.
Chris: You’re on your top bunk, and she’s climbing. Max just turns around and goes, “Is anyone else disturbed here, that the only member of the team with no arms were making climb to the top?” That was brilliant, nice little bit.
Justin: It’s cool, right?
Chris: Yeah, it was excellent. It was excellent. Okay, I’ve got a question from Joe Marks, a good friend of mine from about 30 years. We’ve known her in school. She’s actually running her first marathon next year, the UK IST, which is a charity for infantile spasms. But she’d like to know what are your thoughts on veteran’s mental health? Do you feel they get enough support? That’s a tough one.
Justin: You know that’s one of the saddest things we can talk about right now, because we’ve been at war for 17 years. So many people, so many people have come home holding onto so much baggage and nobody’s there to help take some of that baggage from them. I don’t know how to fix it, so I try not to criticize things that I don’t know how to fix, because I find that to be unproductive.
Justin: But I do see this, the UK, the US, the French, these countries, the Norwegians even, though they don’t have that many guys over there, we’ve had a lot of our people in a war for 17 years. The things that people have to do or see or feel, while they’re over there, is unlike anything our society has, in modern-day age, has had to deal with. Yes, the answer to your question is I think we can always do more.
Justin: I think we owe it to the men and women that have been deployed. Our societies, our governments, we need to figure it out, because something’s broken and we need to fix it, because it’s shameful. It is completely shameful that we don’t have …
Justin: During World War II guys had three months, four months, they’d go to the battlefield. They’d fight. It was way more treacherous, but then they … It would take them almost a year to get home, but at year, you’d be on a boat for three months, and you could talk to your boys about it, about what you saw, what you went through.
Chris: With someone else who’s experienced it.
Justin: I remember when I was in Afghanistan, one of the first lieutenants that was with the unit that I was taking pictures for, was on leave. He was going to Australia. Literally, we had a suicide bombing hit our compound that we were staying in. We were on an air assault, thank god, when that happened, otherwise we would have all been dead, killed by 20 or 30 Afghanis.
Justin: The two Americans left on the post were injured, but walked away from it okay, but injured, like had to leave that compound to go to a bigger base for medical care, but physically didn’t lose any arms, no shrapnel, just over pressure and stuff like that.
Justin: But man, within picking up body parts and securing the location, like mind you, when that happened, we were on a mountainside of like … We were probably like 32 Americans, 30 Americans and like 15 Afghan police and 60 Taliban fighters, a 1000 people below us in the Wadi trying to attack us and position us.
Justin: Thank god, we had air coverage. They sent some F16 on station, which dispersed everybody. So coming back to the compound, body parts, to him being in Sydney Australia sending a Facebook message being like, “Hey, do you know anybody here that I can … that can show me around?” That’s modern technology. That was a very long-winded answer.
Chris: No, it was a good answer.
Justin: It’s all of our responsibilities to try and help.
Chris: It is, definitely, I see too many over here on the streets, living on the streets, because they’ve got no one, and they’re just shunned, and it’s horrible. It really is, so I think, you’re right, society, we need to do more. We need to get together more and do this for these guys who’ve given everything for our country.
Chris: I’m going to ask you my signature question before I go, and then as I said, all the others, because there’s loads more questions for you here Justin, so I’ll save these for when you come back on.
Chris: This one is totally off the wall. Basically I had a guy on the show last year who has worked with Jim Henson and the Muppets for 30 years. The question, someone sent the question for him, I thought that’s such a cool question I’m going to ask everybody.
Chris: If you could have a Muppet created after you, what Muppet would it be and why? It could be an existing one or a new one. Asked Judd, Judds answe is hilarious. He’s completely off the wall for reach out question.
Justin: If I could have any, like if I could be any puppet or create a new puppet?
Chris: Create them, you can create a new Muppet, puppet, whatever. Yeah.
Justin: I don’t know man. I’m sure if I sat down and really thought about it I could maybe create a Muppet, but I say why fix what’s not broken, the Cookie Monster is just the one that describes me. I love my cookies.
Chris: cookies. Yeah.
Justin: There’s a cookie right here, the cinematographer of the show, his wife baked these cookies for us.
Chris: Ah, nice. Oh, they are awesome.
Justin: Oh, yeah, it’s taking all my self control not to nibble on it, because it is so cool.
Chris: Excellent, excellent. I’m going to let you go, so you can get a little bit caught up. Is there anything you would like to say to people, people who are listening and watching before I do stop the recording for this, Justin?
Justin: Yeah, thank you guys for being so loyal and supportive of the show. It’s a great opportunity to be part of. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to show what such a secretive group of people get to go through, so that the world can know that they’re not immune to hardships of normal life, you know?
Chris: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Justin: Keep tuning in and we love your support and your feedback.
Chris: Thank you so much Justin. I really appreciate that. It was a very short timeframe to get this out, so I really do appreciate it, all again, all you Seal Teamers out there, who’ve supported me and continue to do so, thank you so much. I hope those who sent questions and got them asked are happy with the answers and its pleased you.
Chris: Please do help me reach the other cast, as I would love to chat with them on my show, and just ask your questions as well and get some answers and have some good conversations. Anyway, this has been Chris Gordon with Justin Melnick of Seal Team and Hellblazerbiz.