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’68 Whiskey’ follows multicultural band of army medics

Sam Keeley, as Cooper Roback, and Jeremy Tardy as Mekhi Davis in the premiere episode of “68 Whiskey,” airing on Paramount Network. (Courtesy of Paramount Network )

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sam Keeley didn’t think twice when he read the script for “68 Whiskey.”

Not only was it written well, but it would give the actor another opportunity to work with Ron Howard, who is an executive producer on the new series.

“I saw who was involved and that was a big drawing point for me,” Keeley says while on break from filming. “I worked with Ron on ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ and it was a great experiences. On top of that, the material was so good.”

The series follows a multicultural band of Army medics stationed in Afghanistan on a base nicknamed “The Orphanage.”

Together, the medics navigate a dangerous and sometimes absurd world, relying on camaraderie, various vices, and, occasionally, a profound sense of purpose to carry them through.

The freshman series will premiere at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, on Paramount Network.

Keeley plays Cooper Roback, who is the man with good intentions, he just takes the dangerous route getting there.

“There are so many layers to him,” he says. “While you can play him funny on the outside, there is so much going on inside. As the season goes on, you will be able to understand why he does some of those things.”

Also starring in the series is Jeremy Tardy, Gage Golightly, Cristina Rodlo, Beth Riesgraf, Lamont Thompson, Nicholas Coombe and Derek Theler.

Keeley says the ensemble has developed a great bond over the course of production.

“The cast has been a dream,” he says. “It’s rare in a job. There’s not a weak link in the cast and we work together to make each other better. I’ve made some friends that will be around for the long haul.”

One hesitation Keeley had when he was cast was that being born and raised in Ireland, he had no idea how to play an American military member.

Luckily, the production brought in military expertise to help each actor along the way.

“We want to make sure that anyone can watch the show,” he says. “Most of all, it has to be authentic for the men and women who do this job in the military. This is their life every day.”

As far as the qualities shared between himself and Roback, Keeley says they are similar.

He says Roback doesn’t respect authority very much.

“I will challenge and ask questions,” he says. “Roback takes that instinct in me and breaks a lot of rules. I think it’s an admirable quality. Ultimately, he’s a good person and I can identify with his choices, though I would go about it in a less chaotic way. He’s a bit like a sledgehammer and then deals with the aftermath.”

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