‘The Last Ship’ (TNT) Interview: Rhona Mitra Discusses The Evolution of Rachel, Her Fascination With Viruses and More

The Last Ship Episode 2 Welcome to Gitmo (2)

The Last Ship debuted to monster ratings, setting the pandemic series up to be one of the summer’s biggest players. Right at the heart of the show is virologist Dr. Rachel Scott played by Rhona Mitra (Strike Back). TV Equals recently joined in a conference call with Mitra to discuss what is ahead for Rachel, Mitra’s own fascination with viruses and much more. Check the highlights from the chat below.

The Last Ship airs Sundays at 10PM ET/PT on TNT.

Mitra on Why She Loves Playing Rachel

Mitra did not have to audition for the role of Rachel, instead the part was offered to her straight out. The actress, who is no stranger to action series, did not hesitate to say yes. “When it came my way I did everything I could to clear a space in front of me to make sure that I could be part of it,” Mitra said. “And it’s such an extraordinary project with such extraordinary people across the board from Michael Bay to TNT and the writers, and then beyond that just this incredible character – playing this extraordinary woman who has this incredible task in front of her. You just really don’t see too many characters like this either in the television world or in film, and I feel that there’s been so much in my life and my career that I have done that wonderfully led up to playing something as balanced as this and having this dichotomy of physical and cerebral strength.”

Rachel is pivotal to the story The Last Ship is telling. As it was revealed in the premiere, she may be humanity’s only hope. Mitra clearly loves Rachel’s role in the drama. As she explained, once Rachel reveals the information she is holding, the audience truly begins to see who the character is: “Once that information implodes, there’s a great release of a human being that was allowed to unfold. I very much wanted to make sure that she was released and the human being underneath that was released and exposed with a chance to exchange some level of vulnerability with a view to working as a unified force.”

Why The Virus Is Its Own Character

For Mitra, playing a virologist gave her another excuse to geek out over the subject. The actress spoke passionately about the nature of viruses in reality, as well as the virus on the show. She believes the virus is so integral to the plot and so fascinating it should have its own name on the call sheet. The Last Ship is an action series, but Mitra hopes viewers will take away more from watching it than just the thrills as the issue of a pandemic–one of the more plausible apocalyptic scenarios–plays out.

“I did a tremendous amount of research,” Mitra revealed. “In fact, I already know a lot about paleomicrobiology and virology because I’m somewhat of a geek. This world and the subject matter is already of great interest to me, so it came at the perfect time. I already was aware of the state that we are in as a race and the fragility of our planet, so I came fairly well equipped with an abundant amount of knowledge as to where we’re at. I find this to be an extraordinary channel to be able to expose some of that information and share some of the possibilities of how we can tackle the solutions for a possible pandemic like this.”

How Rachel Will Evolve

Because Rachel was not immediately forthright with her new comrades, there is a distrust between Rachel and the Naval officers she will need to work with on the ship. In the coming weeks, fans can expect to see Rachel and the crew continue to develop their relationship as they attempt to face the pandemic sweeping the Earth.

“It’s completely expected to have more than a little bit of tension when you’re dealing with the fate of the human race and two very steadfast, very different backgrounds, neither of which understand each other,” Mitra said of the relationship between Rachel and the military. “The motivation that the captain of a ship has is to take care of his crew and to be on mission. When he’s not exposed to the mission which is a much greater mission than his own, which is one that one woman is harboring, it’s hard to not think of one person as being an albatross to his ship. So it’s about working around and realizing and having the ship and the captain realize that you’re the dove and not the albatross. It’s a lovely dance that we play out really with one goal which is a unified goal which cannot be about ego. It can’t be about government. It can’t be about what everyone has learned before and your credentials and your stripes and your credits.”

It is vital for the ship to become a “joined force” with Rachel if they expect to succeed in their new mission. As this process unfolds over the next few week, viewers will begin to see these characters go on an extraordinary journey together. “We have a completely new scenario that really neither of us could have really comprehended even though it’s a possibility and they’re intelligent people, about figuring out how to best become a joined force to deal with that and shredding away one’s ego,” Mitra said. “That’s a lovely dance to play out on screen and in life I think. Because at the end of the day we’re really just left as who we are as human beings in a skin and a shell. And the rest of it is all for naught when you’re dealt a catastrophe like this. “It’s a humbling place to be. As this show moves on, the armor falls off, if you like, and the people are exposed, which is what I find to be most enchanting.”

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