Jay Hernandez
Source: GETTY IMAGES

Jay Hernandez Plays a Veteran on 'Magnum, P.I.' — Was He in the Military?

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Mar. 13 2021, Published 12:01 a.m. ET

Hollywood actor Jay Hernandez's career began in 1998 when he played Antonio on the NBC teen sitcom Hang Time for two seasons.  Not too long after, Jay hit success when he starred in the movie Crazy/Beautiful opposite Kirsten Dunst. Since then, he has appeared in several major Hollywood films such as the 2005 horror film Hostel, Carlito's Way: Rise to Power, and Suicide Squad. These days, Jay is probably best known for his role as Thomas Magnum in CBS's hit series Magnum, P.I.

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In the reboot of the '80s show, Magnum is a former decorated Navy SEAL who returns from Afghanistan alongside his friends, former Marine chopper pilot Theodore "T.C." Calvin (Stephen Hill) and Former Marine Orville "Rick" Wright (Zachary Knighton) and becomes a resident of Hawaii. Magnum uses his savvy military skills and becomes a private investigator. He also recruits disavowed MI-6 agent Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks) as his partner. 

magnumpi
Source: CBS
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 Magnum is so skilled you would think that Jay actually served in the military. Was Jay in the military before landing the role? 

Was Jay Hernandez ever in the Military?

Even though Jay portrays a character who served in Afghanistan (and does it quite well!), he has never been in the military himself. However, in 2015, he appeared in the family movie Max as a Sgt. Reyes. His character is assigned to the honorary rescue dog, who was traumatized after witnessing his previous handler's death on the frontlines in Afghanistan.

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One of Jay's other brothers has actually been in the military, having served in the Navy for more than 20 years. During a photo shoot with CBS Watch Magazine, Jay said that he appreciated how respectful Magnum, P.I. is about members of military service.  He said, "Knowing how much this show means in the military makes me work extra hard to do justice to their stories and to tell those stories with dignity." 

max
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
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Veterans continue to serve as role models on the 'Magnum, P.I.' reboot.

The intent of the show (and of the original Magnum, P.I) is to depict veterans in an accurate way. Thomas and his friends are all veterans — and they show it. On Magnum, P.I., more than just simply talking about their service, the characters carry themselves and act in a way that genuinely feels like they are who they claim to me. In an interview with WJZ-13-CBS Baltimore, Zachary said that while there are funny moments, the show does deal with many storylines that are more serious.

He shared, "There’s a lot of comic relief on Magnum, but we deal with a lot of storylines that are important to me, like stuff that we do with PTSD and veterans. We are trying to bring honor to those who served and we want to do them right. We want to portray situations and things our veterans encounter in life post-military." In Episode 10 of Magnum, P.I., the show gave viewers an emotional look into how men and women in the military struggle once they come back from serving.  

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magnumpi
Source: CBS

Magnum, Rick, and T.C. try their best to help an Army Ranger in need who is feeling guilty that one of his men in his unit died, and he wasn't there to save him. The guys are ultimately able to save the Ranger and help him through his tough time.

Magnum, P.I. airs on CBS Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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