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John Pyper-Ferguson Talks The Last Ship and Suits [Exclusive]

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT

WARNING: Mild Spoilers

There were a lot of reasons to love the season premiere of The Last Ship, and among them was the return of a favorite character – John Pyper-Ferguson’s Tex.

We talked with the actor about that character, why fans love him, and what we can look forward to for the remainder of Season 2.

“What’s cool for Tex this season is we find out more about the girl in the locket,” Pyper-Ferguson said. “We see that at the end of the premiere. He’s with his locket and he’s making some choices right there and then. But we don’t know what they are at the end of that episode. We’ll find out who she is and what she means to Tex. I think that’s really cool, and it’s really his drive for the season.”

Photo Credit: RICHARD FOREMAN

Photo Credit: RICHARD FOREMAN

In Season 1, Tex tried to pursue Dr. Scott, but was never able to get anywhere. As what we thought might be their final goodbye, Tex kissed her before heading off on his own. Now that he’s back, though, Tex won’t be pursuing Dr. Scott any further. “He’s been running into a wall there [laughs]. He’s been running into a wall of disinterest. She doesn’t seem to be that keen on him,” Pyper-Ferguson explained. “I think either a guy continues to do the same thing over and over, and keeps running into the same wall – we would call that insanity – or he’s got to change his tactics if he’s going to pursue that. Or he’s got to move on to greener pastures. You wake up and you see that someone’s not gonna play in the sandbox with you.”

Pyper-Ferguson also shared his thoughts on why Tex is such a likeable character. “I think, in many ways, he’s a fish out of water. He’s made his life as a thrill seeker and mostly as a private contractor. We may never know his past. He’s different than the rest. Everybody else is part of the crew. They have to abide by certain rules and regulations, and Tex is just not part of that. So he’s something different in the show. As well as, I think he’s pretty irreverent when it comes to situations. And as bad as it can get, he’s an optimist. He’s the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tex is also someone who is willing to help out without much hesitation. In the season premiere, we see that pretty clearly. “He meets that kid on the outskirts of Baltimore in a bad area. He finds out what’s going on and that people are in danger. He’s a sucker for that kind of thing, so he’ll dive into that pool and take his chances to help out,” Pyper-Ferguson said. “He leaves [at the end of Season 1] thinking everything’s peachy keen, and everybody’s good to go. As soon as he hears, most particularly that Dr. Scott is in jeopardy, and in over her head, he’s gonna jump to that. He’s going to come to make a difference. I think we all want that for ourselves, and we all do that in our own ways. And when we get to witness it, we saddle up with that person because we want to make those choices as well. We all want to succeed, and in this case, he succeeds. So that feels pretty darn good as well.”

Photo Credit: MAARTEN DE BOER

Photo Credit: MAARTEN DE BOER

Despite the fact that The Last Ship has such a large cast, Tex was able to stand out in a big way last season, which Pyper-Ferguson said he really enjoyed. “The first season was super fun. It’s a show that has so many characters, and they have chosen to add even more in the second season. There’s more good guys coming in. There’s boatloads of bad guys coming in. So, you’re pretty limited in your story-time and your screen-time if you’re not one of the top three characters. I mean, you take it as it comes. With so many characters to service – and also in terms of creating the element the Nathan James is alive with the crew, you’ve gotta really divvy that out. So the bits that I got in the first season were kind of exceptional. They always had a little pop to them. That’s always encouraging and fun. Then, you know you gotta do it. You gotta succeed with it. You gotta deliver it. You don’t get a lot of chances in the kind of environment that we have, because there are so many people. There are so many shots that we have to get. It’s a big show that uses a lot of different shots and brings them together in editing to really kick up the vibrancy and make it exciting. So when you have those little bits, and they’re good bits, you go ‘this is pretty darn good,’ and your job is to elevate it. I think I was successful with that in the first season.”

Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing Tex as much as we might like this season, but that’s because there are so many other things to look forward to. “I would say there’s not as much Tex in the second season. That’s just the way it goes,” Pyper-Ferguson explained. “They had a lot of things to do and a lot of people to serve. Again, narratively there’s a larger focus this year, too, on these amazing guys who came in as our bad guys. They’re absolutely riveting. And you’ve got to service that and build them up. We have new good guys coming in, and you’ve got to create stories for them, and you’ve gotta serve them. It’s just the way it works.”

Photo Credit: NBCUniversal

Photo Credit: NBCUniversal

But that doesn’t mean we won’t get a chance to see Pyper-Ferguson on our television screens a lot this summer. In fact, it’s just the opposite, as we’ll be able to see him on both The Last Ship and in his new role as Jack on USA’s Suits. The two roles are completely different.

“We’re in offices with windows where you can see through everything as opposed to being on a ship with metal and no windows when you’re in a studio,” Pyper-Ferguson said. “Then it’s not about the events and the explosions and the running and the shooting and whatnot. It is shark-infested waters on Suits. It’s kill or be killed kind of acting, and instead of getting along with everybody, you’re actually out to destroy the other character in front of you – who is also potentially your friend – just because you want to get a little higher up on the ladder and make some more money. It’s super fun, and it’s absolutely the polar opposite of The Last Ship.” We know Tex as a character who is there to be helpful, and everyone on The Last Ship is working together and getting along with each other. “You’re not there to weasel and connive. So your actions and your intentions are nowhere near as diabolical. I’m having a blast on Suits,” Pyper-Ferguson continued.

Suits has been keeping Pyper-Ferguson incredibly busy, especially because of the nature of the show. “It’s a dialogue driven show. They’re really using me, and it’s awesome. It’s heaps and heaps of words. [Creator] Aaron Korsh loves long sentences and really driving them through. And there’s a rhythm to the show and the words. You have to know them backwards, forwards, upside down – and in the way that we work on television, which is so fast paced, you don’t have a lot of time do to that. So a lot of my focus is prepping myself for the days of shooting that I have.”

Though he’s concentrating most of his energy on Suits right now, Pyper-Ferguson also has a few other passions that he’s excited about. “I do have some music that I’ve been playing and working on. It’s awesome, except now I’m so busy there’s no time to rehearse. My pals are in another band, so they’re limited in their time. It’s really a struggle right now to get together and play. But we’ll get it done when we can get it done. I’m also doing some writing on my own, because I like to remain creative, but again, I’m limited on time for that. Recreationally, any time I can get to the golf course is a good day [laughs].”

Pyper-Ferguson has been acting for several years, known for such films as Drive and X-Men: The Last Stand, as well as his roles on several television shows including Brothers and Sisters, Caprica, Burn Notice, and a long list of other guest appearances. So, he had a lot to say about the ways television has changed over the years, especially when it comes to the way we watch.

“It’s evolved into a whole other beast. I really wasn’t part of when television was a little bit poo-pooed in terms of where an actor might end up, and you couldn’t do both. Or it was rare to do both. I really got into it when people were already starting to cross over a lot,” Pyper-Ferguson said. “In many ways, film’s stories were more compelling back then, because most of television was not serialized the way it is now. Now, I think everybody’s looking for – I mean if you’re a man and you’re an actor, you’re looking for your Walter White; you’re looking for your Tony Soprano roles, or participating in those shows and having an awesome role in those shows where your character develops.”

Pyper-Ferguson went on to explain that the way we watch television now has influenced the ways in which those kinds of characters evolve. “With Netflix now and binge-watching, it’s no longer necessary that a character stay the same for six to eight episodes. Because it used to be, you expect someone who is a real fan of the show to watch one out of every three episodes. Your characters and your plots couldn’t evolve as quickly, because you needed to keep it at a certain pace for the viewer to catch a show here and there. Now people watch entire seasons in a couple of days, and even store them! I was talking to someone the other day who loved Suits so much that they stopped watching it, because they want to get a store of about twenty to thirty episodes and watch it over the course of two weeks and get filled up that way. And with that kind of viewing going on, you don’t have to wait anymore. Your characters can change, and they can move on as well as your story and your plotlines. I think it’s exciting for everyone in the business when you’re on shows like that. When it’s not the same show day in and day out, and things are changing and everybody’s a little bit more interested in the story and where it’s going. I welcome that. I really want to be a part of that and be on shows that are of that nature.”

You can catch John Pyper-Ferguson Sundays on The Last Ship at 9/8c on TNT, and Wednesdays on Suits at 9/8c on USA.

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2 Comments

  1. Heather M says:

    Fantastic interview! He will always and forever be Pistol Pete from Brisco County, Jr. 😉

  2. Please return john pyper ferguson and rhona mitra, they make the show. If you take them out I will quit watching it. Deborah

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