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SDCC 2014: “The Last Ship” on the Navy, Michael Bay and the Apocalypse

Thursday 31st July 2014 by S.J. Borger

TNT’s new hit drama, The Last Ship, was at Comic Con to talk about the show, what to expect in the last half of season one, and where the show will go in the just announced 13-episode season 2.

Geekscape had a chance to speak with the cast and creators of the Micheal Bay produced virus-killing-the-world-apocalyptic series. With us were executive producers Hank Steinberg and Steven Kane, and cast members Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy), Adam Baldwin (Firefly) Rhona Mitra (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), Charles Parnell (Fringe), and Travis Van Winkle (Happy Endings).

Ship press room
(l-r) Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Charles Parnell, Travis Van Winkle and Adam Baldwin at The Last Ship’s press room at SDCC.

Loosely based on the book of the same name by William Brinkley (or, as Dane said “we share a name and a title, and that’s about it”), The Last Ship follows Captain Tom Chandler (Dane) as the captain of the U.S.S. Nathan James, Dr. Rachel Scott (Mitra), who may have the cure; XO Mike Slattery (Baldwin), who’s loyalty to Chandler is tested by the decisions the Captain must make; Lt. Danny Green, the leader of the Naval Mountain Warfare Unit; Lt. Kara Foster (Marissa Neitling, Leverage) a combat officer in the CIC; and Command Master Chief Russell Jeter (Parnell), who leads the ship’s enlisted men and woman as they struggle to find  a cure for a deadly virus that is decimating earth’s population.

“In this world, 100 people die every day. So we’ve got this ticking clock occurring in the show.” said Dane. “It’s apocalypse now. It’s still unfolding.”

Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra and Adam Baldwin in TNT's The Last Ship.

Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra and Adam Baldwin in TNT’s The Last Ship.

The show has a very close working relationship with the US Navy, including shooting the majority of shipboard scenes on actual in-use Navy vessels. In order to work with the Navy’s schedule, show creators had to write the entire first season so that almost all shipboard scenes could be shot during a tight three-week window provided by the Navy.

“It was a little insane. We had no idea what we were doing, or where it fell into the season as a whole sometimes.” said Baldwin with a laugh. “We’d go from episode 3, scene 4, to episode 9, scene 8. It could get a little confusing. But being able to work on the actual ship, was incredible.”

In addition to shooting on Navy ships, the show has US Navy advisers both in the writer’s room and on set, and a number of the extras in the show are actual Navy personnel. To thank the Navy for all of their support, the cast and crew flew out to Washington D.C. for a special premiere of the pilot for the US Navy early this summer.

“Some times, they had a completely different reaction then non-military audiences.” said Van Winkle. “In the scene where I kiss Kara, most audiences were like, ‘whatever,’ but the Navy guys just blew up. ‘Cause they knew what a big deal it was.”

Kane elaborated: “I think the best moment I had so far was when we were in Washington D.C., and young Navy woman came over to me, and thanked me–and the show–for the moment with Christina’s character, [LTJG Granderson], for showing a same-sex relationship in the Navy with such honesty, and for having that in the show.”

(l-r) Travis Van Winkle, Adam Baldwin, Eric Dane and Christina Elmore on TNT’s “The Last Ship.”

As for what fans can expect in the rest of season one and going into season two?

“Slattery and Chandler definitely are going to continue to have some issues.” said Baldwin. “It’s the nature of the situation and the XO and CO relationship.”

“I think fans are going to be absolutely shocked by how season one ends.” said Steinberg. “Season two is going to build but also take us in some different directions.”

“Episode nine is the big musical episode.” said Van Winkle.

Unfortunately we couldn’t get anyone else to confirm this.

Watch the Comic Con exclusive trailer below and let us know what you think in the comments!