If it seemed that the mission of “The Last Ship” was nearing its end, the crew is still very much on duty.
In fact, not only does the TNT drama series based on William Brinkley’s novel have a fourth season that begins Sunday, Aug. 20 – with two back-to-back episodes – production is well under way on a Season 5 that presumably will be shown next year. Honored with a Navy Distinguished Public Service Award last year for “getting the Navy right,” the saga resumes as the virus fought by those aboard the destroyer USS Nathan James takes a new form, affecting global food crops and threatening a worldwide famine that could decimate mankind.
While Capt. Mike Slattery (played by Adam Baldwin) and his allies travel the Mediterranean in what one character terms a “last chance to save the human race,” former captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) is seeking a quieter life in Greece … in a plot purposely meant as a modern parallel to Homer’s Odyssey. However, as one can expect from the show that includes action-movie specialist Michael Bay (“Transformers”) among its executive producers, Chandler’s tranquility doesn’t last long.
“It’s a miracle to get even a pilot episode produced, let alone aired, so to get into Season 4 while shooting Season 5 is quite amazing,” Baldwin reflects. ”It’s a testament to the faith that the network has in our show, to the audience’s reaction, and to our writers’ diligence in storytelling. In and around this apocalyptic action-adventure, they’re able to come up with fresh characters and fresh ideas for the current characters. And wonderful guest actors come in and push our buttons.”
As other cast members including Bridget Regan and Travis Van Winkle return as well, Baldwin also credits the series’ directing team led by an executive producer of “The Last Ship,” Paul Holahan. “Peter Weller has come in and directed several episodes for us,” Baldwin notes of the “RoboCop” star. “He’s a great actor, and a great mentor for all the actors involved here. You can always go to him and ask him, ‘How would I play this?’ And he generally says, ‘Just drive a truck through it!’ ”
In various other projects including legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s war movie “Full Metal Jacket,” the sci-fi classic “Independence Day” and the former NBC spy satire “Chuck,” Baldwin also has played authority figures. “I think it’s just because I’m tall,” he muses. “When I came of age, I got (the movie) ‘My Bodyguard’ and we were in relative peacetime, so the opportunity to join just didn’t present itself to me.
“Over time, having played these characters, I’ve come into contact with so many people in the Armed Forces, and they’re just such great people,” adds Baldwin, whose father was in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. “They’re straight shooters and upstanding citizens with such leadership qualities, I just pretend to emulate what they actually do in real life.”