In History’s upcoming drama series SIX, premiering Jan. 18, Justified‘s Walton Goggins stars as Richard “Rip” Taggart, a former Navy SEAL Team Six leader turned gun-for-hire who’s captured by Boko Haram alongside the students and teacher of a girls’ school in Nigeria. As you see in the exclusive trailer debut above, the men formerly under his command, now led by his protégé, Barry Sloane’s Joe “Bear” Graves, request the rescue mission.
“They lose their father figure, and in a way, the sons have to overcome their differences and be the professionals they need to be to bring him back,” says David Broyles, a military special operations vet who co-created the series with his father, screenwriter William Broyles Jr. (Jarhead, Apollo 13).
But Rip’s in need of saving even before he’s taken.
The series begins two years earlier, when Rip, still with the team, crosses a line on a mission in Afghanistan. “He loses a sense of who he is and what he represents and what he was fighting for,” David says. “He needs to rediscover his identity.”
Joe Manganiello was originally cast as Rip, but when he fell ill early in filming, Goggins assumed the role — on just three days’ notice. “We’d structured the whole season — this was going to happen here, this was going to happen here — and Walton came in, and he brought such an electricity to the role and challenged our ideas about who Rip was and where we could go with him,” David says.
As Goggins remembers, when he first spoke with David, Bill, and fellow executive producer/writer Bruce C. McKenna (Band of Brothers, The Pacific), they told him Rip had done some “questionable things.”
“I said, ‘Rip is a war criminal. You can say what you want to say, but that’s what he is, so let’s start from the truth. Let’s start from that point and how did he get there, and what is his emotional state when you meet him, and ultimately where do you want to take him. For me, I want to go on a journey of personal redemption and one that takes into consideration the havoc that war has reaped on his soul,'” he says. “They were more than willing to go there.”
As important as it was to all to honor and humanize those who serve by showing the cost of what they’re asked to do, it was equally imperative that the show’s main “villain” — the Muslim American terrorist, Michael (Dominic Adams), seen in the trailer confronting Rip, for which he has a very personal reason — have a similar depth as the eight-episode season approaches its final hours.
Again, Goggins thinks back to his initial conversation with producers. “I said to them, ‘The story is the most important thing to me, and I can tell you right now that if Michael’s journey is not just as important as Rip’s journey, then we have failed. It will just be another piece of propaganda. But if we can humanize the other person on the ideological spectrum, if we can look at him and treat him as respectfully as we treat Rip and the Navy SEALs, then we will have done something that very few people have the courage to do.'”
SIX premieres on Jan. 18 at 10 p.m. on History.