Travis Van Winkle and Marissa Neitling Talk ‘The Last Ship’ and How They Prepare for a Day On-Set

The Last Ship - Travis Van Winkle and Marissa Neitling WonderCon Interview
The Last Ship
returns to TNT this summer and it picks up right after last season’s cliffhanger, with the crew of the naval destroyer, ‘Nathan James’, turning their attention to Asia. After a pandemic has killed off most of the earth’s population, the crew find out that the Chinese leader has been stock piling the cure to the deadly plague instead of distributing it to the people of the region.

The show, which stars Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy), Bridget Regan (Agent Carter), Adam Baldwin (FireflyChuck), Travis Van Winkle (Heart of Dixie), Marissa Neitling (Leverage) and Jocko Sims (Masters of Sex), is set to premiere on TNT June 12th.

Stars Van Winkle and Neitling were at WonderCon to talk about the upcoming season, relating to their characters and how they get prepared for a day on-set.

How far in advance you guys know your story lines for the upcoming season?

Marissa Neitling: Not very far in advance

Travis Van Winkle: No, they keep that close to the belt.

Even to you guys?

Marissa Neitling: Yeah, every once in a while when we are in passing, they go, “Oh, hey…” and they’ll let something slip. And then it is or it isn’t in the script when you receive it.

Travis Van Winkle: I feel like every time they see us were always like give us a little nugget. Tell us something is coming up. And so they know we’re searching for just the smallest little thread. But yeah, they hold back from us, because it allows us to then take it in for the first time and we have to film pretty quickly after that. It’s like it’s happening. It just helps stay on the pulse of the show.

I can imagine because they don’t want you to sort of mentally prepare for it.

Marissa Neitling: Yes, as an actor, so you don’t accidentally playing the ending.

Can you talk about moving into the political role for your character?

Marissa Neitling: That’s really been the most exciting part for me, to discover who Kara is when she’s not on the ship. She’s a pretty no-nonsense girl.

I mean the political life of the show sort of mirrors a lot of what’s going on with our society, in terms of that it’s a very political year for us. Kara is dealing with the dynamics of what’s happening in the rebuilding of America. There are a bunch of regional leaders at home that are either for President Michener’s policies or really against them. So, she’s dealing with that arena at home as well as being a military advisor trying to advise the president.

Travis Van Winkle: I think it’s right in with what’s happening. We have an election coming up later this year, it’s a very heavy time for politics right now. It’s very much in the mainstream. We’re seeing it everywhere and our season taps into some of the journey that can make a lot of us cringe when it comes to, can I trust what this person is saying? Who is really behind things? What this person is saying? I feel it really taps into what happens at the White House.

I feel like our writers are right on the wavelength of what’s currently happening. We’ve been fortunate enough that every season it seems to be current. The storyline that they choose to write seems somehow to be current in worldly affairs. There’s so much connective tissue somehow between this reality that we’ve created and actual reality.

You guys work long days, when you get home are you picking up the script and learning the next day’s lines? Or are you waiting till that day? What do you do to prepare?

Marissa Neitling: I kind of do the whole episode at once. I memorize the whole thing.

Travis Van Winkle: I do not do that.

Marissa Neitling: You shoot so many things out of order that, for me, if I memorize it in one go then I get a sense of where I am in time and space because we will shoot pieces of episodes months later. So for me, that helps if I memorize the whole thing.

Travis Van Winkle: I will say we’ve actually done a pretty good job staying true to the order.

But I think for me, I tend to… I want to see the script, I’ll go over the script a bunch and then I’ll find the schedule. Whatever scenes come first, I’ll make sure to put that on the top of my agenda.

How do you relate your characters and what do you have in common with them?

Travis Van Winkle: To me it’s a sense of purpose. I look at Danny Green and he’s got this idea in his mind of what he wants the world to be. And I think I very much live, as Travis, my life in a way where I want to do my best to serve the world and to be the best possible person I can be for the world.

And also when it comes to the relationships, I’m definitely a romantic guy. I definitely want to be a father. The storyline that we have is something that I want in my real life. So I’m a lot like Danny Green in many ways. In a lot of ways, I’m not but on a lot of ways, I am.

Marissa Neitling: And I would say I’m a mix as well. In the way that I’m not like Kara, I feel like I will meet someone and I will tell them everything. And I feel like Kara holds a lot pretty close to the chest. There are some scenes that we shot the first season that didn’t make it in the final cut that kind of gave a little explanation of why she may be a little guarded.

And I think just from the tactical CIC point of view, I think there’s a part of me… My first love was math, so just clicking into that head part of Kara. I enjoy figuring things out.

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