On FOX's “Enlisted”, Geoff Stults plays what can essentially be described as a natural-born leader with his role of Staff Sergeant Pete Hill. In the hilarious and heartwarming comedy that centers around three brothers on a small Florida Army post unit, Stults's character leads one of the platoon's on the Rear Detachment unit, after a mistake in Afghanistan got him demoted and sent to the fort where his two younger brothers are stationed. Right away in the series we see how Pete's leadership skills are put to the test as he tries to serve as both a big brother and military boss. In real life, Stults's skills were also put to the test when he had to participate in a four-day Army boot camp with his cast mates as part of their preparation process for the show. In a recent interview, Stults discussed the boot-camp experience, what's he most enjoying about 'Enlisted', and what he hopes viewers get out of this fun new series!
Your character, Pete Hill, was demoted and sent to this small base in Florida. How do you think he is taking it? He doesn't seem too happy to be in the Rear-D unit a first.
Geoff- Yes, he's not happy to back there. He feels guilty that he's not still overseas with his brothers in arms. He's a bit arrogant in the beginning. He doesn't understand that he can still do good, he can find other ways to serve his country. In his mind, the only way to do that is to be in the battlefield fighting. He is just fighting a different war now, of ridiculousness. (Laughs)
Speaking of fighting a different war, talk about one he had to fight on the base that you really enjoyed playing?
Geoff- One of the battles I have is getting the platoon to buy into doing anything, really. They're very happy to do as little as possible and get by. And so as the season has gone by, it was kind of a tug of war between Angelique's character and I. She wants to be where I'm at, which comes very easy to me. She has to work very hard for it. So in this particular episode, I'm trying to kind of win the platoon over by coming up with a cool thing to do. I have this crazy gulf cart, and our new character played by Ross Phillips-he and I our kind of in a competition- and I have this great golf cart idea and everybody thinks I'm the coolest guy in the world, and then he comes by and there's an amazing spider contraction thing that's one of the new future weapons of the army and they kind of forget about me. So that as fun!
What do you most enjoy about playing Pete and your storylines in this show? Is there something that really stands out?
Geoff- Absolutely. For me the most fun I have is when I'm addressing the whole platoon and I'm like the jerky guy addressing them and they're all on the opposite side just being jack assess. Because once I do my side, I just get to sit and watch all of them: the whole platoon and everyone being silly. The scenes for me that are with the whole platoon are the most fun. I just really enjoy watching all these guys. And then it's important to me that we are doing the PTSD storyline. It's really important to us to address that without making it front and center. We're towing the line a little bit, we're dancing around the PTSD a little bit with my character, and I love that it's just not like hey he's back from war and he's crazy! When I've had the opportunity to have conversations with people about it, I’ve learned it's just small little things. We've got guys that are former military right now on our set that are working with us to tell us that it's the little things that they try to do to get back into society and they go through things that people don't necessarily understand. They're trying to assemble back into what things used to be like. And originally, when they were trying to diagnose what PTSD was, it was just one thing and they grouped everybody into one thing, and what they've realized over time is there are subtle versions of it, there are big versions of it. There are obviously levels, and you have to treat it and people are affected differently. So it was kind of our job to play with that a little bit and to try to do kind of do justice to it. So it's nice that we are trying to do justice to that. And I know it sounds ridiculous that we're doing that in a comedy with mechanical spiders, but it's an important thing that we're trying to do justice to it in our way the best that we can.
I heard that Pete is going to have an ex appear soon, played by Mircea Monroe.
Geoff- She was so great. It was so fun. It just kind of showed what a moron Pete is. He's the guy that lets it fade out. You don't break up with somebody, you just don't call them! There's no confrontation. (Laughs) It was fun to play that. And Jill (Angelique Cabral) had to kind of help me through it. She was like, “You have to be respectful of this woman.” But at the same time, she didn't want this girl around either so she kind of coached me. The roles were reversed a little bit when it came to human emotion that Pete doesn't have as much of. Mircea was fantastic.
I know that you and your co-stars went to a real Army boot camp in Texas. How did that experience impact you?
Geoff- Boot camp was fantastic. It was an experience that I'm glad we did. It was such a good experience. We get there, get dropped off, a large drill sergeant was screaming at us. None of us knew what to do. We were all very supportive of one another trying to get through it together. A part of being in the army is you never really leave a man behind. We had to make sure we were doing things right. At first there were people that were kind of like just don't get in our way because we're trying to do our job. We're up early, we have people yelling at us and you guys are just actors here. But when they saw that we were actually doing all the things that they were doing, we definitely got a little bit more of their respect. And then as time went on, people would come up to us at lunch and ask us questions and different things. The ones that we talked to were excited. It was important to them that we did it right.
You're around these guys’ day in and day out and it's an interesting world they live in down there and we got to experience that. Hanging out with the guys who were in the middle of training because they were two weeks away from going to Afghanistan in the middle of a battle-there were literally days were they were learning about land mines- and they took time out from their day to talk to us, and maybe it was a break for them, but these were dudes that were two weeks way from being away from their families for maybe a year and they were taking time for these actor guys. They would come down and explain things to us, let us hold their guns and talk to us. They were just such wonderful dudes and women that there was no way for us not to take it seriously.
What do you hope viewers get out of this show when it starts airing this Friday night?
Geoff- I want them to sit down and for 22 minutes, minus the commercials, have a good time. We're not curing Cancer; we're goofy, we do silly things. We address some serious topics. We try to do justice to the part of our society that is in the Forces. That's very important to all of us; the freedom that they provide and all the stuff we get to do on a regular basis that we take for granted. But at the end of the day we're doing a comedy. I want people to laugh and have a good time. And I want them to go, that was fun! Not take it seriously- hopefully it affects them some ways because there is some sincerity. There is the love with the brothers, there is the PTSD and the military, but I just want people to enjoy themselves. And then tell me I have great hair. That's all I want! (Laughs)
Enlisted premieres Friday, January 10 at 9:30 EST/8:30 PST.