James Badge Dale, The Pacific

James Badge Dale jokes that the boot camp that he and the other actors in The Pacific endured was so grueling that he's repressed any memory of it.

Dale Dye, a retired Marine captain who served as the military adviser for The Pacific and 2001's Band of Brothers, "likes to see actors cry," Dale tells TVGuide.com.

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Even more difficult, says the actor of his role in HBO's 10-part World War II miniseries executive-produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, was feeling a responsibility to Robert Leckie, the real-life Marine he plays. To prepare, he read Leckie's memoir, Helmet for My Pillow, and spent time with Leckie's widow and children. (Leckie himself died in 2001.)

"We all felt a lot of pressure to tell their stories with honor and integrity and respect," says Dale, whose co-stars include Joe Mazzello and Jon Seda.

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"The wild thing about Robert Leckie is that he hated the Marines when he was in 'em," says the actor, who goes by Badge. "He was always getting demoted. He was always getting into trouble. He had a famous quote where he said, 'The next time you promote me, you should put zippers on the bars so that you can take it right off.' ... But yet that defined him — you know, his time in the Pacific theater. To his death bed, he was a United States Marine. And that never left him."

You might recognize Dale, 31, from his roles as CTU agent Chase Edmunds in the 2003-04 season of 24 and in a supporting role in Martin Scorsese's The Departed.

However, he once dreamed of facing hockey pucks instead of movie cameras. His ambition was to win the National Hockey League's Vezina Trophy, and he jokes that he hasn't totally let go of that dream.

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"I'm still scared to touch the Stanley Cup, because I think I'm going to have a great comeback any day. Any day, man!" he says, laughing. "There's a goaltender for the Boston Bruins named Tim Thomas, who played his rookie season when he was 31 years old and he won the [2009] Vezina Trophy ... He's kind of become my inspiration. I think I have a few years left in me."

At age 10, Dale — whose parents are actor/choreographer Grover Dale, now 74, and the late actress Anita Morris — played Simon in a 1990 film adaptation of Lord of the Flies. "It's one of those crazy stories you hear about, where someone says, "Hey, would you like to audition for a movie?' I wasn't interested in being a professional actor. ... It just literally fell into my lap." When he returned from shooting the film in Jamaica, he told his parents he didn't want to pursue being a child actor. "And they were very happy," he says.

Next up for Dale: Rubicon, AMC's upcoming conspiracy thriller series, in which he plays a think-tank analyst opposite Dallas Roberts and Miranda Richardson.

And  after going from goalie to construction work and back to acting, he sounds like he doesn't want to jinx anything.

"I'm excited, man," Badge says about his new show, but adds: "Soon as I say, 'Ah, you're hitting [your] stride,' you know — pfffft — there you go, man: I'm gonna be back to construction."