Playing with Fire

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While it might be most visible in today’s generation of superhero movies, shared universes are not that uncommon on TV where spin-off shows have been produced for decades. Today, we have “Station 19,” which shares the same universe with “Grey’s Anatomy.” Like the latter, the former show mixes live-saving with drama, but deals with firefighters and focuses on a single fire station. And the heart of the titular Station 19 is Travis Montgomery, played by American actor Jay Hayden.

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Hayden has been acting for over a decade and made quite a name for himself with appearances in shows like “Battleground” and “The Catch.” Interestingly, “The Catch,” like “Station 19” and naturally “Grey’s Anatomy,” is produced by Shonda Rimes, who, by the way, is also the name behind “How to Get Away with Murder” which just had a crossover episode with “Scandal.” That little bit of trivia aside, Hayden also appeared in several episodes of “Seal TEAM,” showcasing his capacity to tackle physically-demanding roles. “Station 19” started airing in late March and Hayden has quite a few tales to tell about this story of saving lives intertwined with gripping drama.

DAMAN: Hi, Jay. Thank you for having us. How are you doing these days?
JAY HAYDEN: How am I doing? I’m exhausted. Nobody told me how long and how hard it would be to put out fake fires.

DA: Which reminds us, the first couple of episodes of your latest show, “Station 19,” have started airing. In a nutshell, what is the series about? Can you also tell us a bit about your role?
JH: We follow a group of first responders—fire, Search and Rescue, EMTs—at work and their personal lives. In Seattle, teams work 24-hour shifts, so they live and work together. They are like a dysfunctional family. There will be aspirational friendships, people at odds with one another, people who are secretly sleeping together. I play Travis, funny, sarcastic, but by the book.

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DA: What was it that made you want to play the role of a firefighter in the first place?
JH: They’re real life heroes; People that run toward danger instead of away from it. It’s a dream role, really. An honor.

DA: What kind of training did you and the rest of the cast had to go through before principal photography?
JH: Sooooo much training. Too much! I’m still exhausted from it and we did it last fall.

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DA: What was the most challenging—or otherwise unexpected—thing that you had to do while filming “Station 19”?
JH: Wearing the turnouts, the helmet, the oxygen tank, the axe, the chainsaw, and having the hood, gloves and mask on was … challenging. We were constantly drinking water because we would sweat out more than we were putting in.

DA: Speaking of the physical side of things, how does training and acting in “Station 19” compare to your time in “SEALTeam”?
JH: Both shows are physically very demanding. Both shows are about people acting in a team that faces life and death. And both shows have amazing tech advisors. Men and women that have truly done the job at the highest level.

DA: Today, what do you remember most about “being” a Navy SEAL?
JH: I remember Max Thieriot whipping my ass up the 20-foot rope wall. I also remember hoping to work with Chris Chulack again someday.

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“There will be daring rescues, plenty of action and lots of sex”

DA: Back to “Station 19,” what would you say are the best arguments to follow the show right now? Why should people watch this series?
JH: The show will have both procedural and serial elements. There will be one big event or emergency in every episode, but there will also be the serial aspect with their relationships that will carry on from episode to episode. It’s the best of both worlds. Oh, also there will be daring rescues, plenty of action and lots of sex.

DA: So, all in all, how would you describe your experience working on “Station 19”?
JH: A dream. A blessing. A ton of fun.

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DA: Moving to your earlier works, you’re known as the star of “The Catch.” What is your fondest memory of being on that show?
JH: Mireille Enos had to turn to us in the office in one scene and exclaim: “It was the juice!” We were shooting late and already had started to get the giggles. Well, “it was the juice” put us over the edge. I don’t think we got through one take. Everyone was laugh- crying. Pretty sure they ended up scrapping the reaction shot of the rest of us.

DA: What other titles do you consider to be the main highlights of your career so far?
JH: I did Hulu’s first ever scripted series. It was a political dramedy called “Battleground.” I loved that show very much and the character I played and I had a lot in common.

DA: Have you ever thought about what you would be doing now if you hadn’t gone into acting?
JH: I’d own a little breakfast/lunch diner in a very small town near a body of water…

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“Do your partner a solid and take the breath mint that’s offered before your kissing scene.”

DA: Speaking of which, how do you usually spend your time between shoots or whenever you have some downtime?
JH: I have a wife and two young children that keep me very busy. Family time all the time when I’m not working.

DA: And one last question: What is the most unique, offbeat or so- crazy-it-works piece of advice you’ve ever heard from someone in the film industry?
JH: Do your partner a solid and take the breath mint that’s offered before your kissing scene.

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Location Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Studio Photography Pedro Correa
Styling Darryl Glover
Grooming Melissa Walsh at State Artist Management