by Michael Broderick
They Can’t Send Me Back to Boot Camp
“It’s a really tough business.”
“You’re going to have to deal with a lot of rejection.”
“It’s a constant struggle.”
Whenever someone said something like this to me, I always thought, “How bad can it be? I mean, they can’t send me back to boot camp”. Sure, entertainment is a tough business. You just have to be tougher. Being a veteran of the Marine Corps helps.
See, I got into this business later than most. Although I wanted to be an actor since the time I was a teen, other things came up. Interesting things.
I shipped off to Parris Island at age 17 and, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the run up to Operation Desert Shield, watched the geopolitical landscape shift dramatically during my enlistment. Afterwards, I moved to New York City and spent a decade playing guitar in the Lower East Side music scene. After marrying an awesome Jersey girl I met at CBGB, I tried my hand at voiceover and, to my delight, found that I had a knack for it. Not long after, I decided that, if I was going to do this for real, I’d have to quit my regular job. So I did. In 2004, I moved my wife and young son to Los Angeles to pursue work in film and television.
All of these moves took faith, confidence and a willingness to risk what I had for what I wanted. These attributes were cultivated during my time in the military. They continue to serve me well as an actor.
Being a veteran in Hollywood gives me an edge during the audition process and on set. One look at my reel will tell you that I play a lot of military/law enforcement types and that’s fine with me. I’m convinced I excel at these roles because of my military experience. I don’t have to create what I think a military man might be like. I just have to be present. There’s a certain way Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen carry themselves. It’s called military bearing and it’s not easily taught. It’s something drilled into you during basic training and is something you carry with you forever after.
On set it’s no different. Some find delays and changes in schedule frustrating. The Marine Corps invented “Hurry up and wait”. I find it comforting. It gives me an opportunity to “Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.”
Hollywood has a rich history of making films about the military experience. Some have been important, some merely entertaining. The genre isn’t going away anytime soon and I’m glad because there are so many true stories of heroism, of loss and sacrifice that have yet to be told. How exciting will it be to see these stories portrayed accurately with the help of those people who lived it? Personally, I can’t wait.
Yes, my military experience has served me well and I’m just a peacetime veteran. These veterans coming behind me are storming Hollywood. Men and women with sand in their boots, blood on their knuckles and a song in their hearts. The slogan of this new breed is “Tell me I can’t”.
I envy them.
Michael Broderick is an actor living and working in Los Angeles. He has appeared in such popular television shows as Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Jericho and The Unit on CBS, Fox’s Touch and 24, Justified on FX and others. You’ve heard his voice work in video games like Medal of Honor: Warfighter (Navy SEAL “Tick”) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Human Torch/Johnny Storm) and on national campaigns by McDonald’s, Pennzoil and Arm & Hammer to name just a few. Michael is also a musician (guitar) and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He serves on the advisory board for Veterans in Film & Television, a non profit supporting veterans working in entertainment.
Michael and his wife, Dana Commandatore, are the founders of RethinkingAutism.com, a website devoted to improving the quality of life of autistic people.
He is happy to be represented by Chris Roe Management and William Morris Endeavor.