Best known for his recurring role as Dr.Noah Sexton on NBC’s Chicago Med, Roland Buck III is about to become a very busy man as his career is being kicked into high gear this year with two TV series and an upcoming film. While Chicago Med will return for its third season on November 21, Buck’s highly anticipated National Geographic series The Long Road Home, based on the book of the same name by Martha Raddatz, recently premiered on November 7. And that’s just the beginning. Coming up in 2018, he has a role in the Adam Sandler and Chris Rock Netflix movie The Week Of, which is a comedy directed by Robert Smigel.
We caught up with Buck to chat about his projects, how he first got interested in acting, and what it was like working with Sandler and Rock.
You fell in love with acting as a teen. Was there a specific production, role, or show that you acted in or saw that made you fall in love with performing Roland Buck III: I saw this movie called The Wood with Taye Diggs and I was watching it with my mom. Taye Diggs’ character was named Roland and I was like “Mom he got my name!” and she was like “Yeah.” It made me watch the movie even closer. It was a coming-of-age story about these three friends in Inglewood, California and goes between middle school and high school to present day, where they can’t find Roland on the wedding day. I was like, this is awesome. I asked my mom afterwards if this was a profession and I asked if I could do it. She said I could do anything I wanted to do. I said, okay I want to be like Jim Brown. Jim Brown was a football player and actor. That’s what I was pursuing as a kid until I had to choose which one. Acting was the only thing that gave me the same feeling as being on the football field and scoring the winning touchdown.
What drew you to The Long Road Home series on NatGeo? What was it like portraying real-life events? RB: You don’t get it that often where you can have a job that really means something, where you’re portraying real-life people. I went through a two-week training process with actual Army rangers. We learned how to shoot, how to clear rooms, how to patrol, and the order of command, and how important that is in the military. The shooting process was intense. We had a month of night shoots. I was going to work at 6 p.m. and leaving at 6 a.m. We’re shooting live blanks so it was easy not to act. With everything going on around us, it was easy to react. It was probably the most physical role that I’ve had so far.
Can you tell us more about your role as SPC Rafael Martin? RB: He is an ex-gang member with only two choices in life—the military or prison. It’s interesting, he leaves one war zone, which is the street he came from to another, which is on foreign soil. He is one of the only ones that has seen death close up in his platoon. Rafael Martin is a mixture of two real-life men. They couldn’t get permission to use their names so they kind of blended both together into one character.
Do you think releasing The Long Road Home on Nov. 7, so close to Veteran’s Day, had a special meaning, especially to those the story is about? RB: Definitely. What I really like about the story is that it really dives deep into who these people are, why they’re there, and their families back home. It was supposed to be a peace mission and this event happened. People should know about it. I didn’t know about it. In the military it’s known as Black Sunday.
In 2018, you will star in the Chris Rock and Adam Sandler comedy The Week Of on Netflix. Was it fun to do some comedy after the NatGeo series, which dealt with such serious issues? RB: It’s crazy to switch to three different genres in an eight-month span. It was cool to laugh a little more. Adam is amazing, we’d play basketball during lunch breaks. Chris Rock was great too, he made me feel so at home.
What was it like being able to work with so many comedy legends on this project? RB: Basically, I just sat back and was astonished. One guy that really stood out too was Steve Buscemi. I’ve always been familiar with his work, but seeing him work was amazing. He was the nicest, kindest guy and would always be ready in one take. He’s so genuine and so funny and it comes across watching him. Those guys are all hard workers and give me hope if I stick with it and work hard that I can get to that level one day.
You also have a role as Dr. Noah Sexton on Chicago Med. Out of dramas, comedies, or a network series, what has been what you are most drawn to? RB: It’s a blessing because I’m from Chicago originally. Chicago Med was my first network job. At first it was a recurring role for two episodes then grew from there. I get to go back home and work where my family is. I get to play a person of color that’s a doctor in Chicago. What made me want to act was me relating to someone I saw on TV. I hope my role as Noah Sexton can show kids in Chicago that they can be more than just an entertainer or an athlete. It’s the one role that’s been constant. Going back to Chicago, I know all the crew and actors really well. It’s been tough moving to a different city every few months. That’s been one of the tougher parts, but Chicago Med has been a solid foundation for me.
What was the best advice you received while attending USC’s School of Dramatic Arts? RB: Exams as an actor are different than any other major. It’s really subjective and performance-based. We’d have midterms and finals that were performance-based in one particular professor’s class. We’d also have interviews with him afterwards which really helped a lot. He gave me courage to be me. He said if I was true and genuine to the choices I made, and confident in the choices I made as an actor, that’s the power I have as an actor and person. I have something that someone else can’t recreate. It was a turning point for me and my studies.