SAN DIEGO COMIC CON 2017 – FULL COVERAGE

THE LAST SHIP headed to Comic Con again this year, to give fans a little taster of the upcoming season, and to take time out to host the show’s traditional Navy premiere.

Before the cast headed down to the convention centre, Bridget Regan got a chance to take over TNT’s official THE LAST SHIP social media accounts, sharing some of the behind-the-scenes fun.

 

This year’s panel graced the hallowed Hall H: hosted by TV Guide’s Jim Halterman, on the panel were Executive Producer Steven Kane and cast members Eric Dane, Bridget Regan, and veteran of Comic Con Adam Baldwin.

Opening the panel was an extended sneak peek of scenes from the season four premiere, featuring several interwoven, intense, action sequences. Sadly the video of that sneak peek hasn’t been released yet, so here’s what attendees lucky enough to be at the panel saw.

SNEAK PEEK

A shirtless Chandler steps out into a crowd, at a mansion perched high in picturesque mountains. He’s facing off against a mean looking opponent in a brutal fist fight for the amusement of new villain Giorgio (JACKSON RATHBONE) and his assorted guests. Watching the fight is another new character: Lucia (SIBYLLA DEEN), who surprisingly seems less amused, and more worried for Chandler.

The Nathan James, captained by Mike Slattery, is meanwhile stranded in waters close to shore, under threat from an enemy missile attack. An engineering team, led by Meylan, fights to find a way to fix damage and restore power. There are more new characters and old favourites in new roles (Kat Nolan – Tex’s daughter – and O’Connor), all working frantically together to save the ship.

Lt. Cmdr Kara Green leads a team in CIC, desperately trying to prevent incoming missiles from sinking the ship, with power already running out and limited defence systems working.

On land, Danny, Sasha and Wolf are pinned down under furious gunfire, with Burk, Miller and another new character, Azima (JODIE TURNER-SMITH), desperately trying to reach and help their teammates. Time is running out as the bad guys aim another missile from a mobile launcher at the James, a sitting duck with power going down, taking its weapons systems offline.

It’s a furiously paced scene with THE LAST SHIP’s signature brand of intense, heart stopping action. There’s all the characters we know and love, plus some who seem to have slotted right into the crew. Needless to say, time has passed since the end of season three, but if the sneak peek is another to go by, just like episode 401’s title ‘In Medias Res’ suggests, we’ll be jumping right into the action.

THE PANEL

After the sneak peek, it was time for a moderated panel, with Jim Halterman leading the questioning. Below is the full panel video, and following that, a full transcript for fans who prefer to read, or want to use your browser’s translation tool. There’s also a gallery of all the photos we could get our hands on below!

TRANSCRIPT

MODERATOR: How did you shape this season?

STEVEN KANE: We were blessed because TNT gave us a two season pick-up right away, so we had the chance to make longer term plans. A couple of things were going for me, it was where do we want to go in the world? I always wanted to go to the Mediterranean, I thought that’d be a great place for the ship to go. I wanted to sort of do our retelling of the Odyssey, which is the greatest sea story, with our guys on the ship. And I wanted to explore different themes, especially because it’s been a few years since this show started, and we really haven’t focused on the average person and how the plague has affected them… the plague and now, in this season, the famine.

Picture, in this room, 90% of the people in this room left the planet, and you’re left behind and you’re in a world of chaos, and civil wars, and all kinds of terrible things happening, and you have all this post traumatic stress. These guys on the ship, they are always focused on the mission, and don’t have to think about it much, but the rest of the planet is suffering.

So we deal with these issues. We deal with big issues of homecoming and what that means. And we’re sorta doing our own version of The Odyssey. And we’re in the Mediterranean, so we go to Greece, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Spain… it’s fun.

MODERATOR: And how has the plague changed over time, because we’ve seen it in different stages, where do we find it in Season 4?

STEVEN KANE: Well, as another big science fiction movies likes to say, ‘life finds a way’. The virus is no longer affecting human beings, and it jumps kingdoms back to where it started in the plant world. And it’s affecting a class of plants called Commelinids, which are grasses, wheats, corn, soya beans, rice… basically, all the food crops and anything that we need to sustain the biosphere. So there’s a massive worldwide famine spreading, and guys on the ship are looking for a primordial seed that has inside it DNA that makes it naturally immune to this disease, so they can hopefully tap into that and find a cure.

MODERATOR: You regularly touch on a lot of different themes throughout this series, just in the different storylines that we’ve seen. What are the themes you wanted to touch on in season 4?

STEVEN KANE: Well, on a bigger scale it’s the idea of homecoming, and how do you remake the planet that you’ve lost, and try to find a way to be a human being inside of it. On a personal level for our characters, it’s…. Chandler left the ship at the end of season 3, he exiled himself from the ship because he felt he couldn’t be the leader he needed to be because of the crimes he’d committed. He’d seen parts of his personality that he didn’t like anymore, angry, vindictive, and he put himself into exile. And really, what he’s struggling with is what humans all struggle with, which is how do you deal with all those parts of your personality? And so we deal with that issue too, about what makes you a human being and how do you keep the angry, ugly, dark sides in check, while allowing them to serve their purpose, they need to keep you alive.

MODERATOR: Chandler did leave at the end of last season, and some time has passed, so how is he doing when we meet him up in Season 4?

ERIC DANE: Happy, healthy… a little angry. It’s been a very long hiatus for him. We find him in the Mediterranean, which is probably where I would have gone.

MODERATOR: We see him smiling a bit in the first episode, we’re not used to seeing him smile a lot!

ERIC DANE: Yeah, it’s pretty rare.

MODERATOR: He seems happy though… for a few minutes?

ERIC DANE: For a few minutes… few episodes actually. No, I think Chandler is in probably a better place now. I really think that Greece was good for him, and he would have spent more of the seasons there, but duty calls and eventually you have to know that Chandler, in some way, shape, or form, is going to put himself in the mix again.

MODERATOR: As we saw in the clip (sneak peek), trouble eventually finds him, as it tends to do.

STEVEN KANE: That is one of the themes… to borrow from the Greeks again, ‘you can’t run from destiny’, and Chandler’s destiny is to be the hero, even the reluctant hero. He has to eventually answer the call.

MODERATOR: Talk about the choreography and the work that goes into shooting a fight like we just saw (sneak peek).

ERIC DANE: You know, it was interesting, because we prepared for that fight scene for a like a month, and we had all these moves that we were going to do… and when we got there on the day, I don’t know if it was the time constraints or what, but basically threw it all out and just kind of riffed, and made it up as we went along. And it worked out, because some of the moves are just variants of the same move, but the guy I was fighting with is actually a professional wrestler. So he adapted pretty quickly, and he kinda led the dance, and I did what I was told.

MODERATOR: Speaking about what Steve said, about Chandler being a hero… is he going to embrace that more in season 4? Or is it something he’s still going to be running from or just ignoring?

ERIC DANE: I don’t think he ever embraced it, I think everything for him was always a ‘we’ and never an ‘I’. As reluctant as he may have been to take over the reins, it’s always been a group effort for him. The hero thing was not something he was really comfortable with… and those are the best heroes anyway, the guys who don’t want to be heroes. Chandler, like you said, trouble kinda finds him, and he finds himself in precarious situations, and, one way or another, figures a way out of it.

MODERATOR: As in that clip… Steve, we saw some nefarious looking characters there, do we have a big bad this season?

STEVEN KANE: Well, we have a host of big bads, a lot of stories will collide, because the seed is so important to sustaining life. There are a lot of people out there who want it. So our guys come across various bad guys. You see there (sneak peek) Jackson Rathbone came in this year to play a really delicious villain for us. He’s sort of a Greek mafia guy who shakes down fisherman for their take, and runs these fight clubs for his enjoyment. But there are others that they come across in Morocco, and in Southern Spain and in Algeria, and we have few surprises down the road too.

MODERATOR: Adam, how’s Slattery doing? He’s the Captain now, he’s in charge of the Nathan James, but how’s he doing without his best friend and dealing with these responsibilities? How do we see him at the start of the season?

ADAM BALDWIN: He misses Chandler, obviously the mission must continue, and as we came to know the characters, they were of equal rank, Chandler had more years in and a little bit more seniority. So he [Slattery] has the ability to take over, and he’s able to run the Nathan James as need be, and continue the mission, but he does hope to one day reacquaint himself with Tom Chandler. And there’s some interesting things that happen in his history. We all suffered the losses of our families and our friends by the millions, so he and the crew are struggling with those tragedies, and with survival. Slattery’s family… there is a way that we explain some things about his family that I think are really cool, and really interesting, and he [Steven Kane] won’t let me tell you how…

STEVEN KANE: It’s really cool, though!

MODERATOR: I was going to ask if we get an update on that, because I know that’s been a thread since the show began?

ADAM BALDWIN: Yes.

MODERATOR: Alright, we’ll leave it at that! Without Chandler there, who’s he leaning on, who’s his go to?

ADAM BALDWIN: What we’ve learned through our filming with THE LAST SHIP is that we’ve had honour of spending time with real Navy, and aboard real Navy ships… [audience applauds] … yeah, go Navy! And I think we’re all, to a man and woman on our show, impressed by the strength and the courage, and just the ability of young people who run these platforms of battle. So Slattery’s no different, he relies on his crew, he leans on his crew, they work as a unit. There are some main characters, Sasha being one of them, she’s still around. Meylan and Burk, and a slew of other young, strong people, so he has a good crew… but there’s a bit of a hole in his heart.

MODERATOR: With food being scarce in the whole world, does that also affect the ship?

STEVEN KANE: Yeah, it affects the mission. One of the reasons where they’re once again the ‘last ship’ is because the Navy can’t sustain a fleet without the ability to replenish them. So they go on to this mission, and find out they’re pretty much… their home base in Spain, Rota, Spain, where they’re working from… is closing down, because they can’t support it. So they’re on the ship with a supply of food, you’ll see signs around the ship with ‘please just take one’, and ‘ration your food’, and all that stuff. So hunger affects them like everyone else. They’re much more in it. In previous seasons they’ve been in hazmat suits, or on the ship. Here they’re among the people, and they’re really sharing their pain, and doing what the Navy actually does, which is sharing and shouldering the burden… so that definitely hits home for the crew as well.

MODERATOR: Also in the clip we saw some kicking ass, courtesy of Bridget Regan as Sasha. What are some of Cooper’s challenges in this season?

BRIDGET REGAN: When Chandler walked off the ship at the end of season 3, it was a shock, heartbreaking and devastating, it really shook her up. When we meet the crew of the Nathan James, we’ve fast forwarded like a year and a half or so, and Sasha isn’t a character who sits and thinks about how she feels. Not many of the characters on this show are, I think they all find it easier to focus on the task at hand, be fed by the adrenaline of the fight and keep working. Having said that, he’s not an easy guy to get over, but she’s trying.

MODERATOR: They did have that nice smooch at the end of Season 3…

BRIDGET REGAN: A nice smooch, what more do you want?

MODERATOR: Eric, is Cooper in Chandler’s thoughts, where he’s at now?

ERIC DANE: Chandler’s on the beach, in the Mediterranean… [Joking] …I think everybody’s in Chandler’s thoughts, I think it weighs heavy on him.

STEVEN KANE: We’re talking about Sasha…. in season 3, she spoke about 6 or 7 different languages, and she’ll speak a few more this season, too, which is kind of fun to watch her do. She sounds good.

BRIDGET REGAN: It’s a lot of homework.

ADAM BALDWIN: It’s very intimidating and impressive how you do that!

BRIDGET REGAN: Well I’m not alone, we have a new cast member, Jodie Turner-Smith, and she nails it!

MODERATOR: Talk about some of the guest stars we’re seeing.

STEVEN KANE: So Jodie [Turner] Smith is one of our regulars this season. Of course, Emerson Brooks comes back as Meylan. It’s a little bit of a surprise… well you saw there in the clip, so it’s not a surprise any more, that Tex’s daughter Kathleen actually joins the crew as a young airman and Jackson Rathbone plays a part, and, as you’ll see in the clip coming up [season 4 full trailer), we have a special guest in director, and also actor this season, Peter Weller.

MODERATOR: Wait, Peter Weller, who was Robocop?

STEVEN KANE: Peter Weller, who was Robocop.

MODERATOR: Ok, thats big!

STEVEN KANE: Peter and I talked last year at dinner, about the Mediterranean Sea. He’s got a house out there, I just visited his house out there, it’s very nice. Peter’s a very Renaissance man about the history of the region, and art, religion and mythology. And we were talking about this kinda stuff, and as I started talking to him I said, ‘I need you to do me a favour. I know you’re going to come back and direct, and that’s going to be great but I need you to be in the show because I’m writing a part for you. So we tailor made a part for Peter, and I think he brings a lot to the show this year, and becomes a great foil for these guys.

MODERATOR: I want to hear from the actors… I know you guys have dialogue with real life service people out there, via Twitter and other social media. How has that influenced your role, and how you approach it?

BRIDGET REGAN: I worked with a female Naval Intelligence officer, and she took me on board her ship, the USS Makin Island, and took me into her quarters, and where her team was, and I got to meet all of them, and it was awesome. It was totally a game changer for me. I also have a friend who’s a helicopter pilot for the Navy and she took me there… it just makes it feel really real, in the fact that any veteran would dig our show. We’re doing something right if they’re enjoying it.

MODERATOR: Adam and Eric, have you talked to people?

ERIC DANE: I still talk to the original captain of the USS Halsey, the ship we shot the pilot on, and he’s since moved on. He’s at the Pentagon now, he’s actually in charge of buying all the weaponry for the military. Every time I go to Washington DC, I make time for him. They’re just great, great people. The Navy culture has been something that we’ve been living with for the last 5 years, and it’s been educational and inspiring, and it’s changed a lot of people’s attitudes towards the military. I think that’s a good thing.

STEVEN KANE: I have a list here actually, if you can indulge me, because we’re in San Diego, and this is really the home of the show. The base is down the street, that’s our second home. And we’re going to be going from here to the base, to screen the premiere for the Navy at the pier where we film. So, I just want to give you a quick list. Every ship I say here, just picture this, plus 300-500 sailors on those ships who helped us make this show. USS Halsey, USS Russell, USS Dewey, USS Wayne E Meyer, USS Kidd, USS Sterett, USS Pinckney, USS William P Lawrence, USNS Mercy, USS San Diego, USS Rafael Peralta, USS Makin Island and also North Island, ACU 5 Red Beach – the Marines have been helping us this year as well. All of those people, all those CO’s, XO’s, all those enlisted people, they step forward for us, for the show, because they believed in the mission we were telling and we couldn’t have done the show without them, and we wouldn’t want to. And honestly, it’s changed our lives immensely.

MODERATOR: What would you say has surprised you the most? Is it some of the situations these people put themselves in, or the emotional journeys they go on? What surprised you the most when you hear these stories?

ADAM BALDWIN: I just love… again, the youth, and the strength, and the dedication that we meet in and amongst the service members, especially the Navy and the Marines these days. They spend time sacrificing away from homes and loved ones, but they do it with honour, courage and commitment. They stand strong, and they’re happy to do it. And if they can look at us when we come aboard, and occasionally they throw a salute our way, we can think no, it’s just a costume, it’s ok… see the command pins on the wrong side… the nitpickers out there online, they find those sorts of things, ‘Ah! Command pins on the wrong side, so ha ha!’.

ERIC DANE: Are they on the wrong… I didn’t know that! The command… is that why I’m not getting saluted as often as I should be?

STEVEN KANE: Maybe it’s the donuts in your hand, and the umbrella behind you.

ADAM BALDWIN: Yeah, I think the Salaco [cap] gives it away!

STEVEN KANE: Yeah, it’s the culture. Also due respect to our people on our crew who work really hard, and treat our job like a military operation. The Navy is blown away by the people who work with us, and how well we do the job, but it was this great mutual love affair. Everyone’s working together, everyone’s doing their job, and suddenly the whistle blows, and it’s time for Colours. The flag’s going up, or the flag’s going down, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a teamster or you’re a fire control officer, or you’re an XO, or you’re a catering guy, everyone stops and turns toward the flag, and we all feel like patriotic Americans in that moment. And I think it really helped the actors feel like sailors.

ADAM BALDWIN: That’s a really important point, our crew… again, we’re not military, but there’s a military ethos that our crew puts in. There’s no violence involved but, the hours they put in…

STEVEN KANE: Sometimes…

ADAM BALDWIN: Well, just the cranky ones… But the hours that they put in, the dedication they put in, and they love it. They love being a part of it, and getting our show up and running. And the logistics, when you see the amount of gear that has to be transported to the pier and back, and on board, and back and forth… It’s amazingly impressive, and I understand why all cast members who have crews that are so dedicated thank them, because without them we couldn’t do it, we’re standing on their shoulders. We couldn’t do it without the words, we just try to be kind and show up on time and be good!

BRIDGET REGAN: Our crew are the real badasses of this show, they really are, they’re incredible.

STEVEN KANE: We just hope that we take you around the world every year, and give you a great story, and hopefully dig deep into what makes these people who they are… as sailors, as characters, and this season is no different.

AUDIENCE MAYBE: GO NAVY!

ADAM & BRIDGET: GO NAVY!

MODERATOR: In the clips that we saw, it’s very action packed, but the show also has quieter moments, and intimate moments. What’s a more challenging day? A day when you know you have some real personal, emotional stuff to give, or action-centric and a lot of choreography with weapons and things like that?

ERIC DANE: It’s different. I mean, the emotional is a different muscle you’re working out. The action stuff is physically demanding, very demanding. The emotional stuff can be mentally exhausting. At the end of the day, I think there’s a nice balance between the two, so everybody goes home happy.

MODERATOR: Bridget, how do you approach both?

BRIDGET REGAN: Well, actually, this season, Sasha’s ‘armour’ so to speak… we begin to see some cracks in it. And I was excited that I was given that opportunity, and the challenge of what happens when Sasha’s emotions get too big to hold in, which was interesting to explore, because she’s not a character who shows how she feels. So it was a challenge, but I’m still playing catch-up, I’m still kinda the new guy on the show in terms of violence and stunts and everything. So, those days are great, but they’re so fun. We’ve got real Navy SEALs on set with us, telling us what to do, and to help us not look like idiots. I’m always just looking to them, how do I look, am I doing it right? And trying my best, you know?

ADAM BALDWIN: I love the action stuff, it’s kinda what I’ve been doing for the last few years. I’m comfortable with weapons. Sideline: my daughter got married a couple of months ago, and in that ceremony she insisted that the minister put in a line from Baz Luhrmann, ‘be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone’. It’s true, you gotta keep stretching! But I really love the softer, quieter stuff because it allows you to get in touch with your family emotions, and the stoicism and tough guy act that even the toughest of tough guys put on. It’s all about the home front. It’s about protecting the home and keeping that safe, and that’s why the military puts their butts on the line for us. We couldn’t do what do without them, and I love playing those quieter things, because I’m really just a teddy bear inside… it’s just acting, I’m just tricking you, I’m not that tough.

STEVEN KANE: We do find a nice balance, though. I think we start with a bang, and then we kinda get the situation, and then we try to find those quiet moments. It’s really hard when those missiles are coming in, to stop and ask how you’re feeling. So we try to find a good balance in the stories. And I think he’s being very humble, because he [Adam Baldwin] has some big scenes this season, where he not only kicks some ass, but he gets very emotional and…

ADAM BALDWIN: Do I cry? I don’t think I cry though do I?

STEVEN KANE: I think we put it in digitally.

ADAM: BALDWIN: SHIT!

STEVEN KANE: I’m kidding! I’m kidding! And for Eric, as the sort of reluctant hero who tries not to let his emotions get to him, it’s fascinating to watch from behind the camera the subtleties he brings to it, because you see the torment and the torture that he just doesn’t share with the people beneath him, because that’s not his responsibility to, he has to stay strong for them. And as you [Adam Baldwin / Slattery] said to Chandler at the beginning of season 3, ‘sitting in the Captain’s chair and you look to your right, and all there is, is a window, you know that it’s on you’. And so the mask of command, the burden of command, falls on each of you in different ways, and how you keep your act together under the worse circumstances, I think is what makes the characters so heroic. And you guys bring such subtlety to it. So we’re lucky to have these guys [Eric, Adam & Bridget].

MODERATOR: Knowing that you were going to have 2 seasons to work with, did it change how you approached the story? Do you still see it as 2 separate chapters, or is it one…?

STEVEN KANE: Well, we spent all the money in the fourth season by accident! No, the mandate from the Network and for ourselves is, every season is it’s own season. We always change our main titles, we always have different missions. It’s the same people, it’s the same general show, but… We stopped looking for the cure to the Red Flu in season one. So season five, which we’re shooting now, we’re in the middle of it… is a whole different beast, it takes place in a whole different part of the world, with some new characters, obviously new villains… it’s a separate story altogether.

MODERATOR: It’s such a big cast, is there anybody that you would like to work with more? They do kind of mix you guys up a little bit, but there’s also times you’re in a different than other people. Are there other cast members you want to spend more time with?

ERIC DANE: I want to work with the guy in this [empty] chair… I get to work with everybody so, I’m not answering this question!

ADAM BALDWIN: I think there’s been a great balance over the course of the seasons. We’ve had clusters where we’re working with a certain group, and then we splinter off and then circle back. So I think it’s a good balance.

STEVEN KANE: I think you [Adam] need more time with Halsey, the dog.

BRIDGE REGAN: Aw, yeah!

ERIC DANE: Halsey’s still alive?

STEVEN KANE: He’s alive and well!

ERIC DANE: Oh good.

STEVEN KANE: He’s teaching at the war college.

ERIC DANE: I don’t get to work with Halsey…

ADAM BALDWIN: Just don’t put me in a fight scene against Bren, ok?


To wrap up the panel, it was time to finally drop that full season 4 trailer we’ve been waiting for, for almost a year!

GALLERY