SEAL Team interview: Max Thieriot on directing ‘Rearview Mirror,’ Clay’s struggle

SEAL Team - ClayTonight, SEAL Team returns with a new episode entitled “Rearview Mirror,” and it is one that is incredibly important for so many reasons. There is a new mission, but there is also a lot of aftermath to sift through. Think in terms of what’s transpiring with Jason after the trial, with Ray following his traumatic experience, and with Clay now that he and Stella are entering a new place in their relationship.

If you did not know, this episode is also directed by none other than series star Max Thieriot! This marks his second time in the director’s chair for the CBS drama, and with that comes its fair share of challenges. In part 1 of our interview with Thieriot, he goes through the process of directing this episode, some specific challenges, and the current state of things for his character of Clay. Be sure to come back after the episode tonight for part 2!

CarterMatt – Are you guys finished filming for the season?

Max Thieriot – Yeah. It’s such a weird feeling since we only did 16 episodes. On one hand, it feels like we haven’t done enough and it feels incomplete; on the other hand, it was such a different experience and a lot more work in a lot of ways. It was also later; we usually wrap in the middle of March. It’s weird; I’m ready to be done, but not ready to be done for the season.

Is directing an episode something you’re wanting to do every season now?

It is, for sure. I love directing on SEAL Team — it’s great working with a lot of people that I know. The hardest thing for me directing on television is that it’s not your idea. SEAL Team’s not my show and you’re executing someone else’s vision. What you’re trying to do is elevate the material and execute the best version of the script you get.

What I’d like to do [eventually] is get into directing film and other stuff I create myself — it’s more a reflection of me and my vision. At the same time, this is so much fun — it’s a lot of work, and I’m getting to push myself creatively.

What’s the challenge of doing this particular episode? You’re in this spot where you’re having to tie together loose ends from Jason’s trial, while also setting up a potential new mission, one that could last a while.

The biggest struggle for me directing this episode was that there was so much information and things we were trying to get done before the characters left for deployment. Because of the pandemic, we were forced to tighten our season up on the back end. There were a lot of things we wanted to get across and get done that we had to eat up in a short period of time. That’s always challenging, right? You can’t play these things over two episodes, so I had to find a way to squeeze them into one and then tell the beginning of a deployment.

It’s difficult when you’re trying to fit that much material in there, but it’s the challenge that makes it fun. We all, as directors, love to get an episode where there are helicopters and crazy action and blowing up stuff all day. But honestly, when you’re trying to challenge yourself, having an episode like this where you’re trying to convey all of this information and keep it tight, and also keep the emotion and the weight of each scene, is more helpful. I’m learning more.

From the standpoint of Clay, what’s coming up for him now? He’s just hit this new point in his personal life with Stella, so how does he balance that out with the challenge of yet another mission?

Leading up to these episodes, Clay’s always been one of those SEALs who was naturally gifted. In his mind, he always wanted to take that and be better. He had this idea of ‘I can do everything — a lot of guys can only do one or two things, but I can do all of these things together. I can operate and still have a family at home.’

It’s a big personal journey for Clay through the end of the season. He’s figuring out how to do all of those things, especially when he realizes that he hasn’t actually seen someone who’s been able to do both things. Just when he thought that a guy like Ray was able to have it all together, he’s realizing that he can’t do it either. If he can’t do it, who can?

Related Watch a sneak peek now for tonight’s SEAL Team

What are you hoping to see on tonight’s SEAL Team season 4 episode?

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