Interview with John Savage of “SEAL Team” on Lifetime by Suzanne 7/1/20
This was quite a fun interview. John is being considered for an Emmy nomination for his recurring role as Emmet Quinn (Sonny’s father) on SEALTeam. He is quite a character and very interesting to chat with. He’s had a long and amazing career that started in “The Deer Hunter” with Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep. He went on to many great movies, such as “Hair,” “The Onion Field,” “Godfather III,” “Do the Right Thing” and a lot more, including many TV roles. My favorite was his role in “Dark Angel” as Lydecker. I hope he gets the nomination and wins! We had an amusing chat.
Here is the audio version of it.
John: I’m glad I reached you.
John: I’m kind of excited about coming to be able to just express my feelings. What an honor it is being considered for an Emmy, as a guest [performer].
Suzanne: Yeah, that is awesome. That is wonderful.
John: Yes. The show has meant a lot to me. They are one of the things I have kept looking for was just to see some contact with their home life. When somebody goes back man or a woman he has officers back to Camp. There are leaders and experience back at this camp in the middle of, I forget, Pakistan. I have got a lot of my friends have been sitting service in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Vietnam and second world war. Some of them are up there in age and get they have gotten that supply for years. They have been acting with others in recovery for veteran activity and also in their community and Korean War. Let us not forget the Invisible War.
Suzanne: That is right.
John: A lot of people and that is what this show has done. It has got people, it has put people in the service, home.
John: And I just see the interplay on this camp between a team that has been around, the middle of these people have not hit the age of 30, yet. And they have been there for ten to fifteen years or at least in the back of duty-
John: And you see their interplay with newcomers, like my son and I show, AJ Buckley here was shiny coin and understand that every coin. He gets ticked off where … some new guy starts laughing at the situation like, “You guys. Hey. How you been you little one out. Do not worry about it. You got to be always some smack”. You know, you are talking down to me because you cannot predict the future. You have got to stay prepared. I mean, somebody comes along and offers a back rub or another way for him to make a lot of money by doing his old trade. It is going to be a tough decision for him, you know, and human beings have a lot of trouble in a lot of our lives just being. And the difficulties we are facing in our country today. Demand what this team shows, is working together, working through the differences
John: When somebody comes back from active duty away from the team and away from camp and it has been difficult. Maybe he lost his partner, a sniper, what is these issues even with others and he wants to stay by himself and sit in the corner is he has got a team around them. I got to shake it up either I shake him up, they are going to talk to him, they are going to hold him, they are going to let him stick his swing at them, you know, they are going to move through this because they can not isolate, they have got to keep working together.
John: And the people around them understand that, you know, the people who have been in act of duty, the going through the issue of dealing with outside directions coming in and like, and the feeling like, I had as a little tiny boy about my dad’s experience in recovery and you know, he went through losing a squad as a tough six-footed gunner in the Marine Corps in the court Guadalcanal and anything wrong with guys he did not know who … one service in Europe and at that point, my life, it was his young men to all of being at home to me, the next four or five years old. Dealing with recovery after service in North Korea, you know, I know women who had dealt with the first world war as children and this excitement of success. They were going to the two extremes. The government was absolutely helping, these people are broke, they were broke for a long time. My family, the community still we are living. If you could, If you could have get somebody find a kid. My dad’s life is a number of all moments who had a basketball, you know, if the key was not to share it you still think, you know, you play, you play with that ball,
John: And you are going to places where people like to play. Baby, they were different color, baby you argue, baby you fought over a rough play, Maybe you do it, but you played basketball. My dad was a freaky with like six feet tall at one thirteen or fourteen. But you know, I see a lot of more-
John: -kids on a street corner hanging out at one kid who is sixty, sixty-five and he is thirteen, fourteen years old.
John: My dad commemorated here walking into when we finally got to have a house and live it. Which was government-
John: -Do not make it sound a major cooperative, corporation getting a tax break.
John: And he had GI bill, so even though no work was available and he, but he would get up and see to the people in the community, men who serve them. He physically brought me to visiting the kind restaurant. It has only two tables in that place. I only thought decorations but it was a man who served in American forces and he was Italian and had family in Italy and I learned all this as I was growing up.
John: You know, he introduced himself to manhood, served and they were willing to talk and share their experiences and these guys would get in the corner, usually in town, at our house went high. With the leather cut, Blacksmith Road, and I could not figure out what they would never hear any dialogue. You know, what are you talking about? They’ll kind of crunch together but they were supporting each other.
John: With a drink in their hand, you know, drinking was the thing, they were quiet and usually peaceful, strong men. Unless, they were dreaming nightmares at night like my dad. And again, you know, Rhythm women respect him, but they would not want to usually went to college. And that whole idea of opening schools up to men who lived close to Adelphi University or that gratitude and my daddy got the plan of basketball team.
John: To do not fly-.
Suzanne: That is great.
John: We could all of the basketball games in Adelphi. As he grew up, he got a car, you know, there’s a GI Bill, you made it clear.
John: You know, you can brag about new brand new Studebaker, you know, that car was four hundred dollars, you know,
Suzanne: Oh, you will not back down. Yes.
John: That car is four hundred dollars and they see my mama told me years later while that house we bought in Levittown with the help of the GI bill was five thousand dollars. And it might have even been less but those houses were tiny little boxes, right? No songs and my generation from Pete Seeger and other brilliant, not now, I am listening more to those songs on the radio.
John: Called the Graham Station, you know, wow! these guys still some of them are still around. I know women and the songs are beautiful like they were then and you know, the idea that we look at those places that were you know, as a kid, I loved it for me, it was heaven. But can I start hearing, you know, the criticism of these areas, you know, too close together. Looking there now and I know those trees that grew that we planted, covering the houses. You can not see the houses for the amount of growth that –
John: There is few and I have not been there a long time but I was. Twenty, thirty years ago, I went through to go to the hospital I was born in, better Brooke hospital, to just do some kind of a meeting with others in my programs and oh my God, it is still a shame that hospital. Guys are not …
John: Guys have been more maybe ten bucks. Wanted to, you know, rejuvenating something on new machine, you know, but it is still the same and for me. I remember eating being born here, you know, for some storage, my mom told me.
Suzanne: All right.
John: An isolation, isolated because I had, you know, weak lungs. I was very premature. My twin died, sister. … Tough. Name is John when he would be paid but then the issue having polio in there.
Suzanne: Oh right.
John: That came around the fifties, I was weak. Everybody have one look like a fool. But I was paralyzed. What is it had the flu my buddies all my age had the flu. No, it was not a flu.
John: I did not even make they called it the flu at that time. I remember the words right, but I ended up being paralyzed and I could not breathe. And my joy, I found happiness because I had to. Being stuck in that iron lung. I could read-
Suzanne: Does today, sir, does today’s pandemic remind you a bit of that time? Yes.
John: Deeply, deeply, deeply, fear is a false evidence appearing real. We have fear in many things today. Where is the reality?
John: How we adapt, how do we accept certain things? How do we accept the danger of others or of children being in communities or rooms or other areas that they may not even get sick, but they do and they do, they do get very sick. I mean, I have family members who are in COVID hospitals-
John: -to working as nurses or service. They are there holding the hands of dying people. They have been with other activities and these children that are sick. The courage because they have no energy-
John: -but I feel like I am burning up from the inside out. I barely can get those words out-
John: -that night they died.
Suzanne: Well, let us hope they get the vaccine like they did with polio.
John: Well, with the fathers of a lot of my buddy who got polio, one man was a psychiatrist, a wonderful man is helping me and my mom with the therapy because I was a premature kid and had issues with things and physically, mostly. But the, he had crippled and he had to wear the braces on his legs.
John: What will it sound, doc [?]. Well he has not called me or you will be all right, you had a different form of childhood polio you will get to, you will be okay. I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t really believe that-
John: -and then you know, within a year or two, he died, sort of the other father. What is this disease? We do not know.
John: You can not tell me there is no more different diseases out there waiting, you know-
John: -we are living in a changing world. We are so gifted for so many things in this country. How do we help people in India? How do we help people in Africa? How do we do this? How do we do that? Well, if you can not go there go to a different community here.
John: Pick some friends. Do not try to do things by yourself, but catch some friends that think to say, well, I want buddies do not think the same way as me. All right, even women are going to sell out, “Zip it, John.”, you know, with the idea, we get together because these other ways to go. These wrecks, they put this area to this movie about this experience and what their lives were for years after service in Iraq and Iran, in or in Vietnam. It has brings us to now what they went through. It would be government relationship with friends, with family, with community, and it’s uplifting it, moving it, heartbreaking because the courage is there. The beauty of this effort among each other and these guys have the political opinion. We do not discuss whatever.
Suzanne: That is good.
John: You know, because I can get off the track. Really. Why do not we maybe do this and they have those little podcast, like I share with them and they get out of it about people’s activities and maybe this was a good well that was appropriate why could not have done this. Why do not we go help those people that cut their shocks, destroyed. Let us see what we can do. This guys can not, most of them don’t have that much money. Or tools I am actually help to move again refining the last four measures. But when I see this show, feel pain, I see what they are doing now.
John: I see their activity after coming home, after we united, after dealing with each other’s issues, whatever they might be, actions, emotional, physical. Let us get things going, now. Let us look at it, now. What can we do now and a lot of that reactionary stuff, you know, it is going on internationally.
John: Let us get groups together that actually, you know, fight all those people of different color or kill those people from that country. That is whatever, communism. Do this, do that. Give me a break. You know, give me a break. What can we do?
John: We can do what we are doing, taking one step at a time.
Suzanne: So, had you watched your team before you were on the show. I mean, did you watch them regularly as a fan?
John: Yes, as best as I could. We have had issues, my girlfriend and I. I wanted that too much, not between us but just these area of a place burned down.
Suzanne: Oh no. Oh no, no. Let me have the fires.
John: How we have to keep hiding places, work, etcetera, issue with that and I have been blessed, you know, with this show.
Suzanne: That is good.
John: And feel things for me. It made me feel like, If I die tomorrow it is worth it. You know-
John. -I mean what I have been doing.
Suzanne: Well, you have had a long great career anyway, but yes, this is a great capper on that, regardless, right?
John: Are you trying to tell me I’m getting old-
Suzanne: No, no. No. I was just reading through all the movies and things you have been on are so many.
John: We have to talk more sometimes. All right.
John: I admire your position in this activity.
Suzanne: Well, thank you.
John: Journallism. It is for me, it is a part of journalism
Suzanne: It is. Yes.
John: It is gorgeous. It is great.
Suzanne: Well, thank you.
John: My grandson who is mix race, South American. He is twenty six years old, who is very young, he has written for three of the major papers.
John: He is an athlete. He is a great, fun-loving guy, most of the time. He was on the Boston Globe in northeastern, a great school.
Suzanne: He is doing better than me.
Suzanne: He is doing better than me.
John: He is gonna look up to you. He has got to. You know, and now, and then he, now he is to the Wall Street Journal. He was always interested in the community with other buddies.
Suzanne: That is great.
John: They are still up together, still till now, some issues they face is part of what our world is having to deal with today about unity of people who came here from Muslim countries.
John: Oh my God.
Suzanne: They go through a lot here. Yes.
John: And again, I mean, it is difficult for, are they going to be against the forest with me or against me, you know, and it is hard. It is hard for them. It is hard for us, languages different people have different dressing could be different and there was one kid in the family who was late and only behind and came over Lake from Uzbekistan in their original chechnya background forced out by Russian. They did not have any more food in those countries. After that fall wall, the Iron Curtain, I mean. They kind of, the connection to Moscow fell apart.
Suzanne: Oh, Yes.
John: And the area and effort for trying to work more maybe with connection to the Western World. Well, ninety-nine percent of those people, had no way to make connection to Western World.
John: Christian Jewish and other Muslim groups coming into those areas to help with service. They bring a little food, a little medicine, a little and you know what difference that makes to their survival, you know, I have stories with people who were kidnapped. In Afghanistan I can not, and men and women and the people kidnapped and more young voice, but they were part of the Taliban.
Suzanne: All right. Yes.
John: And yet, were not connected at that time with a major leadership. They put the women on cots, they had rifles and they will make him commit for them to make connection with the Americans. Marines. Army. Who will kill them and yet, at the same time they do not want to let go of those weapons. We kept praying that Americans come quickly. And they did, they wanted their family to get more help who had no, I am not man in that area, the roads are destroyed. They need help with food. They need help with medicine.
John: And that is what this crew was there to do for.
Suzanne: That is good. Yes.
John: And the people as best they could. Hey, America. All over the world people may be aggravated about it. I got yelled at after a couple years working with young people in South Africa with the development of a new Union and finally one of my friends who was a native of the community there because he is always talking and he stood up and said “Mr. Savage, doing on a South African we going to handle this now.”, you know, and that was it, it was like, okay, I got you. The ups and downs is still going on but we were a team.
Suzanne: That’s good. So, you do a lot of this. So you do a lot of this outreach and helping communities and that kind of thing?
John: Well, right now, but I still have the telephone, I still have the Zoom. And my feelings, you know, I am an actor. I’m a dreamer I live with hope, I have to the opposite end of that for me finding a middle is difficult for me, you know, I get very emotional. And you know, I have to take a breath once in a while.
Suzanne: I understand.
John: I love a good script. Yeah, God.
Suzanne: So, can I ask you, do you were in four episodes of sales team, right? And do you know which one you know, which one that they are considering you for an Emmy or is it all for?
John: Well, I believe it is the last one. It is a gentle scene, over solution. I believe that no. I don’t know. I think they gave me your for to suggest which I thought and I thought it was the gentle one of reconciliation.
Suzanne: At the great, at the mother’s, at the mother’s grave site you try about that one?
Suzanne: Oh, Okay. And do you know it, sorry, go ahead.
John: No, I can keep talking with the fact that I did getting attention because of this show. Even with the dialogue with these men and women. I mean the leader of the Seal team, David Boreneaz. That is always important. He is losing his sense of purpose, men died that he is trying to get to do these things. His people, his family, his guys. The commitment and service is really tough, you know. My dad had a bunch of guys from the shop. Crack. Crack Rifleman in the Marines do a much tinier than him, but they are all in their mind. They were they were white. They were very strong appreciations of Southern dialogue, some of it as gentlemen very nice, very beautiful issues of home and only black it will ever become president, the dialogue went away. They want to ignore it, some bad. You kept him okay, but that did not participate in that-
John: But he was the toughest kid in the group and he did not fight with them. You just brought them to the presence. And we are here and if they felt they knew that they were trained for it and believe me when a man gets that is nice someone cut his throat at night. From having called in from the army. I will name it but the you know, nobody knew when they are trained Marines. How did we know? Why is not somebody awake? You know, I do not know what they want to I am imagining that and they were a team they had to. One you people are keeping me alive because I’m keeping you alive. And that’s why we’ are here. That is it.
John: And he lost them and he had dreams about not making it. Not saving the people, he cared about them. But believe me, as soon as he got home his whole idea with my mom was active civil rights duty.
Suzanne: That is great.
John: Two wars. They wanted depression, have all gone through depression. Who does he go to find the best basketball players? So, you know tell me about it and the idea that when we got older and people were dating different races, but one who continue to have us her relationship and some of those women who came to help us at the house with my mom or she put you in there in her shop, these women had children. They call me now. They are still alive in North Carolina, have a shop, which my mom, they thank my mom for helping him put that together. They are working with church groups for kids and they have lost their houses in a second flood. Yeah, you know today that I can not tell you. it is just when you see these stories on TV it brings stuff back.
John: Suddenly, here are in their life. She said say to me, I do not know. I do not know which goes to, they from different races and they are married. What are those children going to deal, how they got to deal with this. How are those children? She was scared. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. You know, what are those kids are eight more? All right. How are you dealing with us?
Suzanne: Yes. it’s always something huh.
John: Maybe it is better.
Suzanne: There is always something to do with her. Right?
John: Yes. Really. It is again. I don’t know what how do work and it’s come up a few times in my profession and other areas of mental health, the areas of narcissism. It is not like an accusation if it is like a lot of work. Like mental health, “Get away from me.”, witchcraft. Okay. Yeah. All right. Well, you know why people get together and play games maybe, go for a book club about poker game, sure, whatever. Why? because we need each other.
Suzanne: Yes, it is tough. It is tough right now. It is tough right now because so many people are isolated and they cannot get together.
John: There are many more, there is a list of the people have not committed suicide for military service. My last couple months is very high in the air force.
John: Why? Pick a number. Mental health, frustration, no money, no job, whatever.
Suzanne: Yes. It is got to be probably pretty high in Hmong civilians right now to in the last few months people not used to being unsociable.
John: I think it is one of the coolest coolest places we have lived so far and it has got, it is an apartment building but we have got this much more area here, there is more space, more spacious and it is cheaper.
John: It has got a swimming pool.
Suzanne: Oh, that is nice.
John: People who are giving space.
Suzanne: That is good.
John: A lot of the apartments. They have to move out because they can not sleep at night and their ritual of screaming at each other all night long. Oh, God. Yeah, you know my girlfriend. She is right. What are they going to do to each other. “Maybe we should call the police”. I said “Well, in my experience with police activity when a couple is together like that. They actually love each other and they kill the police officers. I’m trying to help.”, you know, maybe we should just you know, both of us need to take a walk, living in a small place together. Maybe space between each other is helpful.
Suzanne: Yeah, definitely.
John: You know older cultures do not shake hands, you know, they do not go and run and hug each other right away. Out of respect, they bow from a distance because in the old days, maybe somebody hold a weapon in the other hand, you know, but that is like New York, so I am familiar with that. This is our chance we have a lot of gratitude is necessary. Thank you.
John: We could be we could have been dead by now. We got another chance. Give us a break.
Suzanne: For now.
John: So, I do not know. I love your laugh.
Suzanne: Thank you. Well, I appreciate it. And I appreciate your making me laugh.
John: Good, good. Well, this show might have some little rough humor to look at me. Sometimes, the craziness that we do between semi train each other and then the next up it is like a lot with men they need that senior officer, a woman now saying, you guys you two guys say one more word. I will put you both down in a break for a week or two. Whatever. Like I am going to hit the ground for a thousand push-ups. You can not leave till you finish. However, whatever the demand is they have to answer to a higher power.
John: They have to let go of the thinking they may still have emotions. Just gotta walk with it for a while. Let go, you know God blesses. We need, we need help a lot today.
John: Yes to that. I think you do not mind being liked. Appreciate it.
Suzanne: Oh, yes. Well, thanks so much for calling me. I really do appreciate, I have watched so many of your movies and things over the years and I am only about 13 years younger than you. So I am not some young reporter in case you did not know I saw I sound yeah.
John: You know, the youth is there. That means there is something going, you know, sometimes the excited, excited juvenile behavior, right, is appropriate but when you can feel the sense of a heart, that is young and yet the consciousness of wisdom in the background.
Suzanne: Yeah. That is a good thing.
John: You have got that. You are a professional.
Suzanne: Thank you.
John: You are handling. What I consider, well, it is not a difficult role, but it is.
Suzanne: It can be.
John: Work is different.
John: You know, what is it like when you get home to the failure you the same?
Suzanne: Well, luckily. Luckily for me I get to work at home. So, that is good.
John: Now you are here, we are getting to work at home. Okay?
Suzanne: Yes, I always worked at home.
John: You live alone?
Suzanne: No, I have my husband and my dog and, but I get to work at home. So, I have my own website.
John: How much does a dog help in a relationship?
Suzanne: It does help. Yes. She is goofy. And she makes us laugh and you can not stay mad.
John: I could hear every once in a while, you could schedule like a private meeting, either he goes or you go. … your dog, you know, whatever. Exactly, I had that one bunny rabbit, I would not have gotten it but I blame her, the two of us. We saw this wonderful Latina woman, my girlfriend speaks Spanish and I get to listen to the beautiful language. Maybe, I have learned. but there are words that I forget and the woman had two baby bunnies and her little thing and she is talking to her about. Yes, and I do not know what is going on. But she is there to take two little, one little tiny bunny out and hold it, you know, we are both looking at it both are looking at each other like, you know, no, no, no, no ,no, no, no, no, yes. We bought, we bought it for a few dollars. And now that this little baby girl. Oh God, it is our baby. It is our child. Yeah, let us look into the eyes of the soul. And we know her, she knows us, and understands some of us, she will thump her foot when she hears my loud voice. And she will go under the couch. That is a violence that I watched on TV. Sometimes, same thing. Powder [?] the room and tighten another room.
Suzanne: Yes. Our last dog did that whenever he heard loud sounds whether it was us arguing or the TV or the thunder, whatever it was. He would go run in the other room.
John: All right, right, right. Yeah. Find a place, find a safe place quick. Or they want to share in the conversation, and my, little bunny, does have a small voice.
John: If you went to her up there when she is concentrating on something in her cage, and does not want to be bothered and I want a pair of this or move something inside, she will bite it, pull it back and growl like a lion, very straight.
Suzanne: That is strange.
John: I did not know that about bunnies.
Suzanne: I did not either.
John: Well, we gave that tiny bunny a whole head of lettuce. I gave her a whole head of lettuce, just to sit and see how, she picked it up and threw it, up in the air, this thing was two inches long, and I know you got to be careful, but not you sweetheart, very gentle.
Suzanne: That’s funny.
John: I hope I’m not pushing you to follow this.
Suzanne: What’s that?
John: I am really appreciating, you know, my chance to talk about my team that I had a time. I think it is great. And your child has called.
Suzanne: Yes. She barks whenever anyone walks by the house, so it is okay.
John: Yes. She wants to share in the community.
Suzanne: She wants to protect them. So yeah. I appreciate it. Go ahead.
John: It is my pleasure. If you have anything you would like to discuss, please call or contact my email.
John: I think you have that or not. We have yours.
John: And my girlfriend has been trying to just make sure that we stay in touch with all the folks that we contact on this.
John: Wonderful effort.
Suzanne: Well, thanks.
John: Because we have nobody else to talk to. God bless and-
Suzanne: Thank you.
John: -in your work.
Suzanne: All right. Thanks. Good luck on your nomination.
John: I appreciate that a lot. All right, I am praying for everybody in the seal team and the real ones, too. Have a good day.
Suzanne: Thank you.
John: You are part of the team.
Suzanne: All right.
John: Take care.
Transcribed by Transcription Puppy
It’s rare for an actor the caliber of JOHN SAVAGE, primarily known for exquisite turns in iconic films like Deer Hunter, The Thin Red Line and Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thin to transition to television for a standout role. But when it is a recurring role on a top-rated, critically lauded series like Seal Team (CBS, Wednesdays, 9pm). Savage jumped at the opportunity. And now his portrayal of ‘Emmet Quinn,’ the father of devoted Seal Team character, ‘Sonny Quinn’ (A.J. Buckley), is a leading Emmy contender as Guest Actor in a Drama Series, for Savage’s emotional performance as patriarch of the family legacy and the father-son relationship is put to the test before America’s eyes.
Savage, whose career was launched in the motion picture, Milos Forman’s Hair, is credited for standout roles in numerous landmark films. As he assumes the role of stoic and proud patriarch in a multi-arc special guest star appearance, Savage brings a gravitasse to ‘Emmet Quinn’ who was raised to love two things: his land and his wife with equal commitment. “When my on screen’s persona’s wife tragically passed away before her time, I poured my grief for her into the land — to the detriment and disillusionment of our young children,” says John of his Seal Team character. Now, decades later, Savage’s ‘Emmet’ is forced to confront the push-pull relationship he has had with son, AJ Buckley’s ‘Sonny,’ for so very many years it takes the crisis of literally nearly losing the family farm to discover what truly is important in life. The military top-rated primetime drama that follows the professional and personal lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs as they train, plan, and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions the country can ask of them stars David Boreanaz, Max Thieriot, Jessica Pare, Neil Brown Jr. and Toni Trucks.
Savage’s all new episodes aired as Seal Team was wrapping its third season in April and are re-airing all summer on CBS: https://www.cbs.com/shows/seal-team/
The shows are also available on CBS All Access.
Savage’s intense focus on the subtleties of this Emmy contending role is something you truly will want to spotlight in an interview that will be one long remembered. High res series stills, background material and selected scenes (from Seal Team as well as his current critically lauded feature, The Last Full Measure with Sebastian Stan, Samuel Jackson, Ed Harris and more) are available upon request. This past week, John was cast in the starring role of the hard-nosed judge presiding over the case in a new feature film, domestic abuse drama Finding Nicole, based on the Chris Cuomo-fronted CNN doc, Inside Evil – Until Death Do Us Part which will be shooting in Michigan later this year.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda