Last Resort Q&A: Robert Patrick — ‘Prosser’s The One Behaving Correctly!’

One of the best things about ABC’s freshman drama “Last Resort” is the pairing up of Andre Braugher’s Captain Marcus Chaplin and Robert Patrick’s Master Chief Joseph Prosser on screen.

Since the show’s premiere at the end of September, the two characters have been on conflicting courses, which began when Andre’s Capt. Chaplin refused an authenticated fire order to nuke Pakistan and Robert’s Master Chief was left appalled by the captain saying, “No.” And if you ask Robert – which did – he believes many viewers are totally in tune with Prosser’s position.

“I think there’s a lot of people in America that — when they look at the situation — would go, ‘You know what? Prosser’s the one that’s behaving correctly,’” the actor told Access.

While Prosser’s ties to the group that tried to reach their superiors (in the premiere episode) landed him in a makeshift island brig, Capt. Chaplin learned after incidents in recent weeks the meaning of the phrase “better the devil you know.” But now that he’s let Prosser out of the brig and sent him back to look after the men and eight women of the Colorado, can the COB (Chief of the Boat) be trusted?

Robert answered that question and if he’s going to continue to give Lieutenant Grace Shepard grief, after a quick chat with Access about “Last Resort” getting an accidental shout out during the Vice Presidential debate last week. So, the debate… Joe Biden kept calling Paul Ryan ‘my friend,’ which Daniel Lissing (as Seal James King) called the island kingpin thug in Episode 1. The VP also said the words ‘Last Resort’ and he kept talking about nukes. So I’m wondering — did you guys pay him for these mentions?

Robert Patrick: (Laughs.) That’s funny. I saw it. I watched and I noticed ‘Last Resort,’ and I guess they do use ‘my friend’… That’s in that scene, the one where [James is] going to one up him.

Access: The line Daniel said was something like, ‘Where I come from, when someone calls you ‘friend,’ they don’t mean it.’

Robert: You’re absolutely right. I don’t know (laughs). Maybe [‘Last Resort’ co-creator and executive producer] Shawn Ryan did work something out. I don’t know what his political affiliations are. That certainly was a plug. And it went over pretty good.

READ: Get To Know Daniel Lissing (SEAL James King) From ‘Last Resort’

Access: Did Shawn write this part for you because you worked together before (on ‘The Unit’) and you seemed so perfect for it?

Robert: I don’t think he did. I can tell you I read it early on and I sent him an e-mail and I said, ‘Hey man, I read your script and it’s terrific.’ And then I heard from him after that and he said, ‘What do you think of Prosser?’… And now, I’m doing it… It’s a very, very interesting role to me – being a blue collar guy that’s worked his way up to being such a powerful part of the crew. A very small percentage of enlisted men ever get there, so this guy obviously had the smarts, but he was probably economically challenged and probably unable to go to college, which prohibited him from becoming an officer. So there’s all this, ‘What did this guy overcome to get to where he got to with the ambition and wherewithal to do it’ and, ‘How much resentment does he hold towards officers?’ And then you throw in the fact that he’s got a woman who’s a lieutenant – Grace… It’s layer upon layer of things to fuel his drive.

Access: Speaking of Lt. Shepard (played by Daisy Betts), are we going to see more conflicts with your character and hers? There was incident last week where he blocked her way, and then thanked her for the ‘dance.’

Robert: (Laughs.) That was so funny. Shawn Ryan and I watched that together on his computer and cracked up, man. Yeah, you’re gonna see something in Prosser that you’re not expecting with his relationship with Grace Shepard and it’s a wonderful thing because I’m really trying to define who Prosser is and make sure the audience knows that this guy is fully committed to the Navy, fully committed to his country. And he represents that position, that point of view of what we expect of our military personnel.

Access: Right, follow orders, don’t question them.

Robert: Exactly. Don’t question. Follow orders and do what’s expected and that’s the oath you take… I think Shawn maybe had a real idea that I do have a real strong conviction that way and I do have a passion about the military. I come from a military family, not having served myself, but my grandfather was a career soldier and served in four wars… I think he knows philosophically that I was in the right mind set for Prosser, getting back to why he probably thought of me, and that’s really what I’m trying to do. I wanna be that guy for the audience. I think there’s a lot of people in America that would — when they look at the situation — would go, ‘You know what? Prosser’s the one that’s behaving correctly.’

WATCH: Andre Braugher & Scott Speedman Talk Moving To Hawaii For ABC’s ‘Last Resort’

Access: Capt. Chaplin let him out of the makeshift island cage last week. Now that he’s out, what is his goal – to protect the men? To undermine Chaplin?

Robert: No, he’s not gonna undermine Chaplin at all. He’s there to protect the men and the boat together and he’s there to clearly make sure that boat doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. He’s also there to watch Chaplin. He realizes Chaplin’s under pressure, he realizes Chaplin’s emotionally under — to use a Ryan term — he’s under duress, and [Prosser] wants to see what’s gonna happen… And I can certainly captain that boat out of there if anything happens to him. The COB can run the boat.

Access: Because you have to be so serious all the time as Prosser, do you get to have any fun when you’re not doing your takes?

Robert: I’m actually probably the biggest cut-up. I can walk in and turn that on pretty easy and I do. And I try not to take myself so serious. Don’t take me the wrong way, everything’s not precious to me. Every take is not a precious take to me, every word of dialogue is not precious. My whole way of approaching acting is I try for realism and… I try to do nothing, to be honest with you and I don’t make big deals out of things that aren’t really big deals and that’s kind of the way I wanna continue to work on the show. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have the fire burning in my belly when I need it. But I’ve been doing this for 30 years so I kind of have an idea of when to turn it on and off.

Access: So finally, will ‘Last Resort’ allow you to return to ‘True Blood’ as Joe Manganiello’s werewolf dad?

Robert: Yeah. I’m actually back here in LA right now. I’m about to start a movie with Martin Sheen; I’m doing a thing called ‘Undiscovered Girl’ next week; I’ve got some other things going on. I’m going to maintain the film thing, but I’m totally committed to ‘Last Resort,’ I’m totally committed to my friend Shawn Ryan and he knows that and, but I gotta keep everything moving forward and yes — if my schedule works out — I do want to go back and play a werewolf again.

“Last Resort” airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.

-- Jolie Lash

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