Maximiliano Hernández has been well loved throughout the first three seasons of “The Last Ship”. However, that’s not all that Max has been up to. Not only has he appeared regularly as Doctor Rios, but he’s made his mark in the Marvel Universe, playing Agent Jasper Sitwell in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Added to that, he’s currently playing Chief Toby Clay in Amazon’s “Hand of God”. Despite being so busy, a little while ago, Max took the time to talk to us about playing the Doc, how the character has developed, and definitively answers a long-pondered fan question.

Despite having been ever present since season one, we know relatively little about Doc Rios, even his first name never having been uttered on screen. We ask Max to give us his take on the character. “I feel like he’s a well-heeled guy,” he begins. “He’s been in the Navy a long time. He’s a career Navy guy, and I feel that he’s been put in an impossible position. He’s part of the work to save the world. He’s completely over his head, and he’s being asked to do things that are just way out of his depth.”

“He’s trying to hold on for dear life and trying to help, but, at the same time, he knows he’s a valuable part of the team.”

“When you’re on a ship, the Corpsman, who’s the doctor on a ship, he knows everybody. He’s in contact with every single person on the ship, so he’s almost part-psychiatrist, part-confessor, and he has a lot of those qualities, I think. For him, he knows he’s an important part of it. He may not be in the command structure, but he knows he’s an [integral] part of the ship.

Source: Twitter @maxitois4real

“I really like him, I gotta say. At the beginning, I didn’t know what to make of him, because at the beginning, you want to follow Navy protocol, and you just want to get that part of it right, and then you just ask questions. I had the chance to talk to a Corpsman, because we shoot on an active naval destroyer in San Diego, so I’ll run into the Corpsman on the ship, and I’ll start talking, and just ask questions. For me, the way I see him is that he’s the one who knows everybody’s secrets. He knows how important it is to keep the cohesion on the ship tight. If you need him, he’ll come, and not just be the doctor, but he’ll be your friend.”

Recently, Max revealed the Doc’s first name as ‘Isaac’, which apparently took him by surprise. “It’s funny, because for the first two seasons, I didn’t know what his name was,” admits Max. “I thought his name was Eddie, or something! Everyone knew their [characters’] first names, and the rest of the cast were like, ‘Max, we don’t know your [character’s] name. What’s your [character’s] name?’ And I said, ‘I think it’s like Eduardo, or something like that. But all you white people call me Eddie!’ And then I found out it’s Isaac, and we had a very, very good laugh. I think Isaac is just a name you don’t hear, it’s really not a name you hear very often. And I thought that, actually, it’s a perfect name for him. Isaac Rios is a perfect name for him. It was very funny. People were trying to guess online what the name was, but it is confirmed. It is, indeed, Isaac Rios. He just sounds like a soul singer: Isaac. Isaac is a soul singer from the 70s, so that’s the way I think of it.”

It was never more apparent than in season three that Rios feels out of his depth, especially when taking on the task of trying to develop the work on the virus that was completed by Dr. Rachel Scott. “Here you have the woman who basically found this cure [for a virus] that was going to clearly wipe out the earth,” explains Max. “Those are big shoes to step into, and, luckily at the end of season two, Doc Rios was included more in that part, so he kind of learned her thing, but it’s almost as if he’s thrown into Beijing, and has to learn how to speak Chinese! He knows it’s a language, and he knows it’s what you use to communicate, but he doesn’t how to even start that process.

Season 3 episode, ‘Rising Son’.

“Coming into season three, there was so much placed on his shoulders, to find out why: why isn’t this [cure] working? Why are these people immune to this [cure]? Did [the virus] mutate? He knew that there was that pressure of finding out. He knew certain things: ‘we’re not affected, we’ve had the cure, so clearly something happened to these people when the cure was given out’.

“For him, it’s a really tough road. Rachel Scott, this was her thing, and my thing was bandaging up a hurt leg! If someone gets shot, I know what to do. I know how to triage, but this is research.”

“It’s like someone who works in the emergency room in a hospital being told to go and cure this guy of cancer. I definitely took it to those basics: like, I know the sport of football, but I won’t go out there and be a goalie. I understand what’s involved there, so that’s where my mind went with what he was dealing with in season three.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Rios – along with several other members of the crew – were taken captive, and that must have had a profound effect on him. “You know, I think that hostage situation made him a lot more cynical,” admits Max. “He killed Toshiro in the bunker, this man who’s been sworn in and has taken an oath to do no harm, and to help people, and he was even trying to keep Takehaya’s wife alive during the pregnancy. You know there’s that level of compassion he has, he just wants to help people. Being taken captive there, and having to be forced to kill Toshiro, for him, it was a big moment. It was a big moment where he realised that he is capable of doing this. If pushed far enough, he is capable of doing this, even if it goes against his better angels telling him ‘you don’t do that. You let the tactical guys do that. Everybody’s got their job.’


“But in a situation like this, it becomes very clear that we all have to be able to cross the line. It definitely made him more cynical, and took a little bit of the light away from him, and I feel that, part of him – in the second half of the season – in trying to figure out the mutation of the virus, he put a lot of extra energy into that to forget about the fact that he’s been in this horrible situation. [He’s had] these really heavy moments – being taken captive and tortured, and being drained of blood, and having to kill someone – he throws himself into work, not just to find out what’s going on, but because it’s better to keep his mind busy, and not have to think about what he did.”

Despite having been present in the first two seasons, Rios hadn’t really come to the fore until the third season, and it is in this season that we see his defining moment as a character. “For season three, the defining moment was when he killed Toshiro down in the bunker,” says Max, no hesitation in his voice. The scene in question was during the pirate village being stormed, and he and Eric Miller were hidden under one of the huts, and Rios had to take decisive action to enable them to flee.

“When he and Miller were down in the bunker, that was a point of no return. That was a moment when he was like, ‘oh my god, I can’t believe I did that, but it had to be done, and it was him or us.”

“It had to be him at the end of the day, it was always going to have to be him but not us.’ I think that’s something that he tries not to think about, but, in that moment, he realised that he had to think about it.”

“He had always thought about that kind of stuff in the abstract, because he wasn’t ever pushed into those positions. He was always on the ship, he always tended the crew members, if someone got hurt, he was there. When Dr. Scott was on the ship, his job was not only to take care of the soldiers, but to assist her. I think that moment, in that bunker, when that happened, was a bit of undoing of a lot of that stuff, the stuff he thought had been so positive. It really affected him in that way.”

“The Last Ship” is known for its jam packed schedules when it comes to shooting, and we ask Max to describe a typical day on set for him. “I usually bring my dog with me,” he replies, a smile in his voice. “We’re very pet friendly on our set, so we all bring our pets, and it’s very friendly that way. So I arrive with my dog, I go to my trailer and set him up. I go to makeup, because I don’t go to hair, obviously, so I always skip that department! I get done up a little bit, I get into my wardrobe, I kiss and hug about fifteen people while we’re there, because we’re all very close. In particular, in season three, those of us who were captured and in the huts, wearing linen-y, ripped up, shredded clothing, barefoot – it was very, very cold – we all became much, much closer.

Photo credit: Triini Selgis

“So you’re hugging about fifteen people, then you go get dressed, and they call you, and you go and rehearse. You joke around a little bit, you mess up your lines and then you fix them, and then you shoot it. For me, I’ve been doing this a long time. The night before, I’m just working on stuff, working on the lines, figuring out what it is that we’re gonna do, and I think we’re all that way. I think we all tend to come to set prepared and ready to work. Everyone’s sweet, and everyone’s very into what we do, and we all feel very grateful and genuinely feel lucky that we get to do this. We all literally stand there from time to time, and [say] ‘we get to do this! This is crazy!’ And we all get along, too. Our days are usually filled with that – a lot of hugging, a lot of catching up with people.

“Because it’s such a big cast, we all don’t shoot all at the same time, we’re spread apart. I’m good friends with Marissa Neitling, who plays Kara, and we touch base every now and then, because we’ve not really had any scenes together since season one, so what we do is text each other, asking if the other’s still alive! A lot of us get together for dinner. So for me, a typical day is to go in, get ready, get it done. I’m quick. I’m one of those one-take guys. Go in, get it done – my days are over fairly quickly!”


With Max being kept so busy, what’s coming up next for him? “We’re doing season four at the moment,” he says. “That’s done in March or April, and then we have a short little break, when I’ll be doing a movie, and then it’s right back to season five! Seasons four and five are [shooting] back to back, so it’s a little tough in terms of doing anything else. I just got married, and I’m trying to figure out when I can take a honeymoon! I literally got married on Saturday, and I was back to work on Wednesday. My wife told me to just keep working, and we’ll figure it out later on!

“I’m also writing a screenplay, which is almost completed. Me and my friends are putting it together, and it’s going to be my first picture to direct. It’s a Spanish language film. So my first time feature directing will be half English, half Spanish. It’s a lot of prep work to do something like that – it’s an independent film. I will not be in it, I’m just the writer/director. So we’re going to try to shoot it sometime before the end of summer 2017. A lot of work!”

Given that Max has a whole other season of “The Last Ship” to shoot over the coming months, followed by his other projects, we think it’s safe to say that he’s going to keep busy, and we’ll keep seeing him on our screens for a long time to come!