'The Last Ship': Rhona Mitra's scientist is saving humanity in a 'Michael Bay world'
What would you say "The Last Ship" is about?
Mitra: Because I have my perspective on it, from where I come from, and there are two very different sides of the show -- there's the science and virology side and then there's the military aspect.
It's such an all-encompassing show. It really deals with the matter of war, the matter of military, and it deals with the matter of science. And it deals with the matter of the fate of the human race as we stand right now, as a real reality, not as a phantasmogirical -- that's my made-up word. I think, when these movies have been in the past, I think today this is our reality. We're talking about the possible fate as things as they are and as things as they are to become.
We're dealing with real human beings in a state of crisis -- in a very large, Michael Bay world -- with human characters. I come at it from the -- I'm very much in the minority -- but obviously with a huge weight. I find the human relationships and how one deals with this sort of catastrophe to be the most intriguing part of what the show has to offer.
Who is Dr. Rachel Scott?
Mitra: She's a rogue in her field and has always gone to the beat of her own drum and proven to acquire great respect among her peers, but her methods have always been ad hoc. And her motivations are purely from the heart. What's extraordinary and what I've found out from virologists, microbiologists but especially this woman who has deep history -- which you'll find out much later in the season -- is very much driven by a passion to understand these very intricate characters, being viruses and bacteria.
What kind of a scientist is she?
Mitra: There's this incredible passion that this woman has for diagnosing, dissecting and following a romance with the nemesis, this character and this creature. Which is so much more than most people understand about scientists. Because they just aren't portrayed as either geeks or two-dimensional or in this world that no one understands, but there's real breadth put into just who this person is -- not just who she is as a woman, but as a human being.
I love the fact she dances both lines of masculine and feminine, she's neither one nor the other, she's just a woman with a task at hand. She has her own personal issues that she's dealing with, as we all do. We're all driven by that personal motivation -- which again you'll discover in an episode (I'll not tell you which one). The other one is this thing, we think we're doing something far greater than belief or other people. There's a wonderful nobility about her, a selflessness that I think is really endearing.
How does Rachel relate to the other characters in "The Last Ship"?
Mitra: If you yourself were carrying such a great secret and you had been given the task, by the President of the United States of America -- who basically represents the world -- that she's carrying a very precious secret and she has been governed to find the one thing, the essence of what it might be, that could possibly unlock this dreaded virus. She's sworn to absolute silence and secrecy. It's like you're a kid in the playground and you can't tell anyone your secret!
It's the most oppressive state to be in, because she understands the potential that's going to happen. But after four months in, being on this naval destroyer, which is secondary to her -- it's not that she doesn't care, but her focus is dog with a bone, I have my mission, there's something more important that you need to know what I'm here for. So I think there's this awful kind of guilt and awful responsibility and child alone and feeling completely on an island, but this real sense of strength and a conflict within that. Because as a human being you want to share things and have friends and allies and people you can exchange ideas with --especially a scientist. Scientists usually exchange information, but she's very much on an island.
Does she ever get to talk to the others?
Mitra: What happens after that is an unfolding of more camaraderie and a one-ness and we're on the same mission and we're in this together. It becomes a selfless and wonderful partnership between two very, very different worlds. There's the science world -- which the military does not have any idea about -- and the British scientist. US military, Team America versus this scientific version of Moneypenny. That's what I am to begin with, and they understand that really I could be the one to unlock Aladdin's chest. Then we work together. Then there's this wonderful symbiosis.
"The Last Ship" premieres Sunday, June 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.