TNT’s The Last Ship sets sail tonight, Sunday, June 22nd at 10pm ET/PT. The Michael Bay produced apocalyptic drama follows the last active Navy ship in the world to not be struck by a deadly disease that is quickly wiping out the Earth’s population. Sci-fi favorite Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Chuck) plays second in command Mike Slattery to Eric Dane’s (Grey’s Anatomy) Commander Tom Chandler.
Recently, TV Equals joined in a conference call with Baldwin where the actor discussed his experience working on a real Navy ship while shooting the series, the dynamic between Slattery and Chandler and more. Check out the highlights from the interview below.
Baldwin On Why He Loves The Last Ship
Baldwin fell for The Last Ship for two primary reasons: the series gave him a strong character to play and he got to work on a real Navy ship. The privilege of seeing how the men and women who are a part of the Navy work seemed to have a strong effect on Baldwin, who discussed how impressed he was by the ship the pilot was shot on and the members of the Navy who went about their work during filming. “The biggest selling points for The Last Ship start with the United States Navy and its structure of goodness and power and discipline and civil order,” Baldwin said. “These are the things that break down when you have an apocalyptic event such as we portray, and I think the honor that we show and the respect that we show to the United States Navy and to the other armed services is a huge selling point. I think there’s a huge appetite for that around the world. These are men and women that put their lives on the line and sacrifice years from their families and loved ones to basically allow you and me and the rest of us to make TV shows about it. So we try to portray that as best we can.”
As to why he took the part, Baldwin insisted that was a no-brainer. “It was a TNT production with Michael Bay at the helm. How could I say no? The opportunity to work aboard a Navy-guided missile destroyer is a chance of a lifetime. We’ve had the opportunity to go over the horizon on an embarkation to see that ship – Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers in action is something I’ll never forget. It’s life altering.”
Baldwin’s decision was not based solely on the setting, however. A large part of his love for the series is tied up in the character he plays, Slattery, a military and family man who has a strong respect for the chain of command, but does not let his loyalty stop him from questioning the actions of those around him.
“The thing I like most about Slattery is his ability to balance Chandler’s decision-making process and to be a leader,” Baldwin said. “I love the leadership role that an executive officer must bring to the command in this world. Also, we get an insight into his background, his family. He loves God and country. He loves his family. He wants to restore order in civil society in this catastrophic scenario. Plus you get to wear a really cool uniform.”
The Relationship Between Slattery and Chandler
The relationship between a commander and his second in command is a fascinating thing. Balance must be maintained, but since Slattery has so much to lose he has to walk a fine line when it comes to advising his commanding officer. Baldwin spoke fondly of Dane, who he described as “a powerful, powerful captain as our lead.”
Expect Chandler and Slattery to not always see eye to eye on decisions, but Slattery will be firm in having Chandler’s back. “The Captain, obviously, has the final say and Slattery, being second in command, must respect that in order to maintain discipline and order. It’s really a common sense benevolent dictatorship, if you will, on board the ship. We have to keep these ideals in mind as we’re going along — common sense, integrity, enthusiasm, composure. It’s all managerial ability too. You have to manage this crew of several hundred in this apocalyptic situation and Slattery and Chandler are able to strike that balance while Slattery is still able to challenge him; but not in an insubordinate way, but in a man-to-man way within the command structure, obviously, of the Navy.”
What Can We Expect From The Series?
Emotional conflict will be ever present for those on the ship. They are humanity’s last hope for salvation, but they also have families of their own to think of. Slattery, like so many others aboard the ship, has a family out there and he does not know if they are safe. “There were desperate moments and yet, as any solider/sailor/airman/marine knows when they’re deployed, they are responsible to the crew that is under their command,” Baldwin explained about upcoming episodes. “And Slattery – his wife is out there and his children are out there and he wants to get back to them, obviously, but first things first.So there’s that inner conflict that he has to deal with, that everyone on board has to deal with. Do we stay? Do we go? What do we do? Do we go back on land and run to them? Will we get hit by the virus? So the higher purpose has to come into play. So we’re all torn and yet we know what our mission is.”
The Last Ship is not all darkness though. It aims to be a sharp summer action series above anything else. “It’s scary, it’s sexy, it’s – boom,” Baldwin promised.
Follow me on Twitter @sljbowman