Former Navy SEAL chases new adventure in Discovery Channel show, 'Lone Target'
As someone whose career has included 10 years as a Navy SEAL, seeing action in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and hearing directors call "Action" in everything from "Transformers" to "Mad Men," you'd think Kelso, Wash., native Joel Lambert already had plenty of adventure in his life.
Turns out all of that was just the beginning. Lambert is now starring in "Lone Target," a new Discovery Channel show that debuts Jan. 1, in which he's up to his neck in excitement. The premise of the show is that Lambert is dropped into locations around the world. He must use his tracking and survival skills to avoid capture by elite military and government forces and make it to his extraction point within 48 hours.
For most of us, that might sound like a recipe for a nervous breakdown. But Lambert was in his comfort zone.
"As a Navy SEAL, I'd done some pretty intense things, and this calls on that. I'm inserted into foreign countries, breaching their security. I do lots of counter-tracking, and set booby traps, as special operation forces are trying to track me, and get ahead of me and block me off before I get to my designated extraction point."
Lambert is talking on the phone after pulling off the freeway, as he drives back from Kelso, where he visited family for the holidays, to his current home base, Los Angeles. He sounds relaxed and breezy as he discusses hair-raising challenges during filming, including trying to evade Poland's Straz Graniczna border guard, South Africa's International Anti-Poaching Foundation, and a South Korean National Police SWAT unit.
The only trace of nerves is Lambert's Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, Rosie, who's impatiently whining because he's stopped the truck.
Though it might seem the units assigned to try and capture Lambert for the show had actual threats to deal with, Lambert says the show functioned as a valuable training exercise for all concerned. "They don't often get a chance to test their skills against someone who has my skills as a tracker, and can do counter-tracking," he says. "It's a great training opportunity for them, and for me."
The filming apparently had its share of dangers, as members of the production team suffered heat exhaustion and other woes. "It was just chockful of injuries," Lambert says cheerfully.
Lambert, 41, moved to L.A. after he finished his duty as a Navy SEAL, and got into the entertainment business. Through his connections, he got work as a weapons technical adviser, and had a tiny on-camera role in the first "Transformers" movie, facing off with Josh Duhamel at a scene set at Hoover Dam.
Other on-camera appearances followed, in "The Closer," "Hot in Cleveland" and "Mad Men."
"It was the Season 3 opener, when Jon Hamm (who plays Don Draper) and Bryan Batt (who played Salvatore Romano) go to Baltimore," Lambert says of his work on the award-winning AMC drama. "They meet some stewardesses and go out to dinner with them and with the pilot. I was the pilot, the dude with the lobster bib."
"Lone Target" came about after Lambert heard about it from a friend who knew someone involved in creating the show. He sent in audition materials, and got the job, and then the traveling began.
The debut episode is set in South Africa, which Lambert says was his favorite location. "These guys that were tracking me had skills that were just exquisite," he says. Some of the action took place in a game reserve, "with leopards and lions around every corner. Having them chase me around was real danger. It was awesome."