Based on the best-selling Jack Carr novel of the same name, The Terminal List arrives on Prime Video on July 1, bringing to the streamer a psychological thriller that wades through the murkiness of a compromised reality. The bravado of Chris Pratt keeps things clear even after he, as Navy SEAL commander James Reece, and his platoon are ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. Reece returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the disastrous operation, but as the story unfolds, Reece discovers dark forces are working against him and he’ll do anything to put a stop to it.
Among a cast that also includes Constance Wu and Riley Keough, Pratt stars alongside Taylor Kitsch, who plays Ben Edwards, Reece’s brother in arms and right hand man in uncovering the truth. Ahead of The Terminal List premiere, Kitsch spoke with LA Confidential all about the show.
Tell us about Ben Edwards— what did you enjoy about the role?
Ben is a guy that… [is] a surfer, sailor. But this is a guy that you can walk by on the boardwalk, and you'd think he's just another guy, but also there's a duplicity to him that is a lot of fun to play, that this is a guy you also don't want to cross. And I think that goes to show just these SEALS in that community, how they come in all different sizes and personalities. Some have sleeves of tats and some are from Nebraska that wouldn't dare get, so that was a lot of fun to play.
Ben’s immediate support of James Reece really makes you believe what’s happening to Reece is real. Why do you think Ben feels like such a trustworthy character?
It kind of goes into that brotherhood that these SEALS go through that I don't think anybody can really, truly understand of what they go through overseas and fighting shoulder to shoulder with. And that's something both Chris and I really, really leaned into— just this bond between two best friends that train together and then serve together and they're still best friends. Ben is the godfather figure to his daughter, and it's that type of bond that we played into. And I think you have to have that for this show to be accurate, authentic and it serves the storyline throughout the whole thing.
What sort or training did you undergo to prepare?
Crazy amount of shotgun work, which is literally walking around your house with a shotgun and dummy rounds for weeks on end, reloading combat loads, going into the range with Ray Mendoza, who trained me for lone survivor and was our military tech advisor for this. We spent a lot of time at the range moving, so that was awesome. And then Jack Carr, who obviously wrote the book, really was great with this. He knew I know this community well and the spirit of these guys and what that brotherhood means, so he just really gave me the reins to Ben and to make him my own and that's the best thing you can do when you want to reach the full potential of something, especially creatively.
For me, it was the hook of this guy was sleeves and just wearing this huge Mexican parka and the board shorts and the very laid back attitude until it's time to go quite the opposite way. That was a lot of fun to play. And just to entrust me with the choices and the aesthetic of Ben, it's empowering. You got to trust my processes as well. They didn't hire me to have their thumbs on me. It's really just like, “OK, we got Kitsch, let's see what his ideas are and if they're gonna work,” and then we kind of just hit the ground running.
You spoke about the importance of brotherhood. What was it like establishing a relationship with Chris Pratt to establish that close connection on screen?
It was actually a lot of fun. He's doing the majority of the heavy lifting, so to come in, bring a little bit of levity when the time is right— the way these two guys checked in with one another as well. It's not just looking him in the face and being like, “Hey, how are you doing?” It's like cracking a joke when you think it's going to go for a dark turn and just getting a pulse on where he's at for many reasons.
Our process was actually pretty darn seamless. There's not much ego at all on both sides, so we just were like, “Let's do whatever we can to make this real and genuine.” It felt pretty darn organic from even the first Zoom that we had when we started talking about this relationship.
When you first read the script, what did you think of the end’s big twist?
I mean that’s why I signed on.
How would you describe that final moment in three words?
That one word pretty much sums it up.
I can't even fathom [it, but] if that doesn't work, the show doesn't work.
That's why you do what you do for that kind of pressure to knock out those scenes. I love that. I love that it all comes down to this beat. And I love those stakes and the pressure as an actor to deliver solely on this beat.
What do you want audiences to take away from watching this show?
I hope they're entertained. I hope they think about it, rewatch it and go over these beats that maybe they missed. I liked that it's original, that this is a different take on these kind of psychological thrillers. It's not a stereotypical guy comes home from a botched op and he's got PTSD and we watch everything unfold. That is a huge reason why I leaned into it. And the twists and the turns. It's very, very high grade in regards to the storytelling and, of course, the action.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photography by: Courtesy of Prime Video