J.R. Martinez has made a habit out of triumphing over obstacles. The former Army solider was disfigured during an IED explosion in 2003 while serving in Iraq but he didn’t let that stop his dream to be an actor. He made that come true by playing a soldier on “All My Children” then went on to further stardom by winning Season 13 of “Dancing With the Stars” with partner Karina Smirnoff.
Now, he’s starring in a new show “Saf3” pronounced “Safe” airing this month on Tribune stations. The show, which also stars action icon Dolph Lundgren, is set among the elite emergency forces in Los Angeles, including Fire, Lifeguard and Coast Guard. The show focuses not just on the dramatic rescues among the interagency units, but also the relationships between the agencies and the rescuers. Martinez is currently shooting in Cape Town, South Africa.
“They had to take us across the world to do this show,” Martinez told The Tom Joyner Morning Show from Africa. “In the first show which airs this weekend, there’s a rescue and my character gets injured in this rescue. For the first couple of episodes you see me go through this recovery process, pretty similar to what I went through in my own personal life through the emotions that I felt and the battle that i went through personally just trying to get back to the team again.”
Martinez is excited about doing the action sequences the role requires. As a former soldier, he’s used to being active and says that his time on “All My Children” had him more confined.
“It makes me feel like I’m active again. After being injured in Iraq, I tried to go back and be with the guys and it wasn’t the same. They had their different experiences and I had different experiences. That’s the same thing with my character. They love him and they want to embrace him back, but there’s a lot of things that he has to work through.”
The show is set in Malibu, but is shooting in Cape Town, which Martinez says has parts even more beautiful than it’s coastal cousin. Though Martinez had no acting ambitions before his accident, says that his acting aspirations afterwards provided an outlet. When “All My Children” was looking to cast a real-life veteran in the role of a soldier coming home, Martinez used his motivational speaking skills to his advantage.
“I was comfortable in front of a camera,” he says. “I came in and I just worked at it. I came in for 3 months and it led to 3 years.”
You can go to JR’s official website to see what time and on what station “Saf3” comes on in your area.