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The Most Important Thing Shamier Anderson Learned About Playing A Navy SEAL For Invasion - Exclusive

There are a lot of elite special forces teams out there in the world, but for those of us living in the United States of America, none of them have achieved quite the pop cultural penetration of the Navy's SEAL units. The depiction of SEAL soldiers in media has run the tonal gamut, from the stark and unflinching "Zero Dark Thirty" to the total turkey that was 1990's Charlie Sheen vehicle "Navy SEALs." Say "SEAL," and most folks will picture super-soldiers just this side of Steve Rogers, capable of carrying out the American military's most harrowing and important missions. 

The truth, of course, is a bit more complex, and any actor hoping to accurately portray a member of the SEALs has their work cut out for them in terms of striking a balance in honoring both just how badass the SEALs actually are and their humanity given that, for all their skills and training, they're ultimately just people doing a job. This was the challenge faced by Shamier Anderson as he prepped to play SEAL Trevante Ward in Apple TV+'s new alien invasion series, appropriately titled "Invasion." Separated from his team in an alien attack and stranded in the desert, Ward faces a seemingly impossible journey to return home in the midst of a global crisis. 

While Anderson did no small amount of preparation to play this role, there's one piece of advice he picked up from the show's military consultant that most informed how he'd approach his character's Homeric odyssey. 

What Shamier Anderson learned about eating the elephant on 'Invasion'

When we spoke to Anderson prior to the premiere of "Invasion," he spoke about the background work he did to get into the head of his Navy SEAL character. "I actually worked with a consultant by the name of Remi Adeleke, who is an ex-Navy SEAL," he said. "And I worked with him closely on the entire show, heavy in the preparation process and the pre-production, with just understanding the physicality of a Navy SEAL. So, in the gym with him, the psychology of a Navy SEAL, the founding principles of a Navy SEAL, learning to eat the elephant one bite at a time, and just going on a crash course."

So, um ... what was that about eating an elephant? Apparently, rather than a way of staying fed in the field, this is a bit of advice often cited in the military about approaching overwhelming-seeming tasks in digestible increments in the interest of making progress on them. Anderson clarifies, "When I say eating the elephant one bite at a time, it means taking on a task and respecting the magnitude of that task and doing it one step at a time." Apparently, this advice was useful not only for putting Anderson into a military mindset, but also for helping him to tackle what was a difficult shoot on "Invasion."  

"That really helped and informed my performance," he said. "And during the shooting period, I also made sure that I tried to stay in that headspace. So, I actually slept in the desert a lot of the time, which was really interesting, just to kind of stay in that isolated state and to really stay present in Trevante's world."

You can see Shamier Anderson's elephant-eating abilities on "Invasion," which is releasing new episodes Fridays on Apple TV+.