PASADENA — Michael Bay productions are known for action, and that is no different in the latest project from the producer/director — the TNT drama "The Last Ship."
The Navy destroyer U.S.S. Nathan James has escaped a global catastrophe that nearly decimates the world's population. The efforts by the crew to find a cure, stay alive and find the means to continue their quest creates plenty of big action scenes. But the series also examines the human side of the crew and its captain as they face the reality that they may be some of the last remaining survivors.
San Francisco native Eric Dane, who plays Captain Tom Chandler, was excited when he read the script.
"It was a huge attraction for me," Dane says. "We forget when we think about these soldiers and the military that they have family they leave behind for long periods of time and how that affects them."
The personal elements mean Dane is not only having to play a military-minded leader whose first responsibility is to his ship and crew, but he also gets to show the emotions that come with being a husband and father who doesn't know the fate of his family.
It was easy for Dane to play the family side of the character. All he had to do was think about his own wife, actress Rebecca Gayheart, and two young daughters. What gave him the most concern was trying to figure out what elements he would need to have to portray his character as a good leader.
"If you speak to the Navy, they will tell you that leaders aren't born, they make leaders. There's a protocol that's set in place and if you follow that protocol you're in a position of leadership and you're leading," Dane says.
"I found that challenging because I also found that there was a conflict. I am supposed to be leading a crew of 236 young men and women. And the whole time I'm thinking that I'm leading these people, but at the same time my family's out there. I have to bring a little bit of that into every decision I make."
This split focus creates the kind of character Dane likes to play. Whether it was his long run as Dr. Mark Sloan on "Grey's Anatomy," or the feature film "Valentine's Day," Dane always has enjoyed playing characters who are more complicated than they seem.
Dane knows character studies and the action genre aren't necessarily synonymous, but he likes that the makers of this new series have found a way to handle the scope of the action but make it character driven and intelligent.
As for making the move to his first big series since "Grey's Anatomy," Dane says: "I really enjoyed playing Mark Sloan. It was a fun character, and that job was great for me.
"And this character, I think, is a little bit more suited for me as far as who I am. I'm having a really great time playing this role. I find this guy to be extremely honorable, and my only concern is that I can portray this guy with the sincerity that he possesses."
"The Last Ship": 9 p.m. Sundays on TNT