AJ Buckley on His Fear of Being Typecast and His Physical Transformation for ‘SEAL Team’


“I did CSI for nine years, and I played this nerdy lab guy… I was really worried that I was going to be typecast as this nerd guy, or the lab guy” – AJ Buckley

Viewers who followed actor AJ Buckley from playing Crime Lab Technician Adam Ross on CSI: NY to playing Navy SEAL Sonny Quinn on SEAL Team a few years later were likely surprised by the actor’s physical transformation. Buckley shed over two dozen pounds between the two series and gained much more muscle definition.

Speaking about landing the role on SEAL Team with Parade, Buckley reveals how his physical transformation surprised many during his audition process and how satisfying it was for him:

“I did CSI for nine years, and I played this nerdy lab guy, and then, at the same time, I was doing Supernatural, and I played paranormal investigator Ed Zeddmore, and both these guys are super nerdy type of guys. Me, I’m a nerd and a dork at heart, but I’ve always, always wanted to do action and these type of characters. […]

“So, when I finished the show, I was really worried that I was going to be typecast as this nerd guy, or the lab guy, and so I just turned it into a full-time job. I did this series up in Canada just prior to doing SEAL Team, and the character at the beginning of the show, had to be overweight. He was a sort of alcoholic cop. And by the end of it, he found his way. They said, ‘Let’s see if you can be a little heavier, and at the end, lose some weight.’

“I took that upon myself. It was the first time I was away from my daughter for an extended period of time. So, I just turned it into, like, a 5-month boot camp. I had this incredible trainer up in Canada, and I literally trained harder than I’ve ever trained. I put on 15, 16 pounds to get up there, and I was just gross.

“I had like 22 or 23 percent body fat at the beginning, and by the end of the five months, I was down to 11½ percent. I lost 26 pounds and was in the best shape of my life. Then when I got back to L.A., it literally was about a month and a half, I got called. I’d worked with Ben Cavell on Justified, and he was like, ‘Hey, I got this pilot coming up, and there’s a great role in there for you,’ and I went in.

“When I walked into the room, they were like, ‘Wow!’ I’ve been really fortunate being with CBS going on 17 years. Most of my acting career’s been with CBS. So, it was cool to see producers that I’ve known since the beginning of CSI because they’re like, ‘Holy sh—! You’re 100 percent a different person.'”

“There’ve been times where my agent and manager want to send me in for an audition, and the casting director’s like, ‘No, we know that dude. He’s not right.’ And they’re like, ‘Trust me, just let him come into the room just to see him. He’s a different human being.’ And every time I go in, they’re like, ‘Oh, my God. Did you eat your last person?’ There’s probably about 35 pounds of difference between Adam Ross on CSI and Sonny Quinn.”

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