Seth Gabel stars in Allegiance as Lt. Danny Sefton, a member of the National Guard that is somehow released from serving with the rest of his company in Iraq. ShockYa was glad to get the chance to speak with Gabel about his role and the state of military films today. “Allegiance” comes to DVD and Blu-ray January 15, 2013.
What made you want to do this movie? What drew you to the script?
Seth Gabel: What drew me to it mostly were the people involved. I think the script is fantastic, but the people involved—the director Michael Connors, the producer Sean Mullin, many of the other producers as well—almost everyone involved with this film was a veteran of war and many of them had direct experiences that related to this project. So when I met with them initially about it and heard how so much of it was authentic and the real experiences these guys had, I was hooked and had to be a part of it.
Your character in the movie is a little shady in how he got out of military service. How did you get into that character, especially with the kind of baggage that character has?
Seth Gabel: Well, I wanted to think of him mostly as resourceful, because it’s revealed along the way that a lot of his resources might be that his father is connected to politically, may have pulled some strings to get him pulled out of Iraq, but I was in denial of that. So as the film unwinds and the characters reveal that, I think ultimately my character needs to confront that fact and perhaps he’s not entirely justified in abandoning his unit.
What kind of research did you do to inhabit your role?
Seth Gabel: There was a lot of discussion with the director and producers about their experiences. I got to sit down with some ex-Navy SEALS and Green Berets and some people who are currently in the national guard and talk about their experiences. We as a cast got to have a group jam and we got to do a lot of rehearsals together with me and Bow Wow and Pablo [Schreiber] and Malik [Yoba]. We really had a sense of camaraderie and we really felt like a unit going into the film and as we shot the film, we felt that connection get torn apart, which was a really great way to do it.
What was it like working with the cast, especially someone like Bow Wow, who is relatively green to the acting world?
Seth Gabel: I think he’s been doing it a lot longer than me. I know he started when he was 13 or something like that with Like Mike and he’s been performing since he was six years old. He was telling me the story about how Snoop brought him on stage when he was about five or six and essentially discovered him and I can only imagine how talented he is and was at that time to be able to hold his own like that. So I thought he was an incredible actor. I think he’s an incredible performer in general and we had a lot of fun, doing scenes together, improvising, changing lines, coming up with fun things to do and I thought he was really great.
This film is one in a huge line of post 9/11 and now post-Osama bin Laden military films. How do you think this film fits into the narrative that America is in right now concerning their relationship with the military and war?
Seth Gabel: What’s unique about this film is that it’s about the National Guard who initially sign up for a few weeks out of the year and not a very long term commitment and certainly not with the sense of shipping off to a foreign country to participate in war. So this is very much about a unit who is pretty shocked and traumatized by their change in status. So I think this film illuminates a certain stance that perhaps was overlooked in some way or perhaps not very acknowledged by everyone. In terms of a war film, I think this really gives you a sense of the honor, the duty and the loyalty that these soldiers have to each other and to our country, which we have a general sense of, but when you really see it told in an authentic way and get a sense of the values that these people have who are representing us and fighting for us and sometimes dying for us, I think it’s pretty enlightening.