Exclusive TV Goodness Q&A: Chris Sheffield, TNT’s The Last Ship
Chris Sheffield might not be a household name yet but the way his career is going, itâ€™s only a matter of time. Currently in the highly successful TNT series, The Last Ship, ChrisÂ teased the second half of the season, how he got into acting, and a couple of his other projects that are keeping him happilyÂ busy .
TV Goodness: For people that donâ€™t knowÂ The Last Ship, what’s itÂ about and tell me about your character…
Chris Sheffield: The show began with the crew of our Naval Destroyer being on a mission in radio silence for six months. Â And during those six months a virus has broken out and decimated 80% of the worldâ€™s population without our knowing. We come to find out that our mission wasnâ€™t actually what we thought it was and we were looking for a cure the whole time. And the radio silence was to protect us and protect our mission. And once radio silence is broken, everything kind of went to hell.Â The Russians come after us. We think about all of our families and where do we go. It makes Ericâ€™s Â [Dane] character make some serious decisions about the course of the rest of our mission, probably the rest of our lives. We donâ€™t know. So the show picks up with us trying to find our way, what is going on in the world and trying to save our love ones back home. Finding our love ones and fighting the virus and fighting all of the ones trying to get the cure from us…
TV Goodness:Â And tell me about your character?
Chris: I play Communications Officer Mason on the show. And what that means is Iâ€™m kind of a liaison between the outside world and our ship. In the first episode Iâ€™m listening over the communications literally anything I can pick up. And hearing the devastation from the outside world, trying to keep contact. And what I hear over the course of the season kind of steers where we go. Which has happened once already in the first one. As far as what happens I tell it to the captain and he decides where we go. Â [TheÂ “El Toro” episode]Â is a big one for Mason. I go off the ship for the first time on a mission. And itâ€™s a really, really intense episodeâ€¦..And yeah thatâ€™s how I fit in crew wise on the ship.
TV Goodness: One of the things that freaks me out about this show is how realistic it comes off.Â Itâ€™s something that could possibly happen.
TV Goodness: And how do you deal with that? And the interesting thing is that the Russians are coming after you and we have been having problems with the Russians recently. Itâ€™s very, a little close to home. I was so invested.
Chris:Â Exactly. You are absolutely right. Thatâ€™s why when we talk about this show, itâ€™s not necessarily post-apocalyptic, it is apocalyptic. Itâ€™s happening now in real time in the story. Thereâ€™s a realness to it that it could possibly happen.
TV Goodness:Â What I also wanted to say to you was the part where your character hears the first signs of what is happening. Youâ€™re just listening and I think itâ€™s a very powerful moment with you and maybe one or two other actors sitting with you. Itâ€™s those little moments in TV shows that you go this is the moment that you know this is really, really bad. I did want to share that with you because when I saw that, it was really great.
Chris:Â Oh, thanks.Â Yeah itâ€™s a really quick moment, but itâ€™s an important one.
TV Goodness:Â And I think sometimes it gets overlooked but I wanted to tell you that.
Chris: Oh, I appreciate that.
TV Goodness:Â What would you tell someone to watch it?Â There is so much on television what is it about this show that makes it different from anything else that is on the air right now?
Chris: I would say two things. One I would say there really is nothing like this on television as far as the action goes and thatâ€™s because of Michael Bay who is incredible to work for. And that type of quality action you just donâ€™t really see on television. And the second thing is our Navy. Our show really worked hand in hand with the United States Government and the United States Navy. We studied with active navy on an active Navy destroyer. They wanted to be our extras and we were so happy to get them. And I think that that alone sets us apart. We truly, truly represent the Navy and do the best that we can. And I donâ€™t think that there is anything on television that really shows the inside of our military forces quite like this.
TV Goodness:Â I agree.
Chris: Very, very accurate.
TV Goodness: I think that what makes it terrifying is because you watch it and think holy crap this could happen.
Chris: Sure and it shows how the chain of command works. Anything that goes wrong on the ship and how they handle situations, people donâ€™t see that. You donâ€™t get to see what goes on inside on a U.S. Navy Destroyer and you really truly get an inside look.
TV Goodness:Â You have another show coming out called Happyland, is that correct?
Chris:Â Yeah, Iâ€™m on an MTV show called Happyland that comes out September 30Â and Iâ€™m also in a movie called The Maze Runner that comes out September 19Â which Iâ€™m so excited about. The movie is so good.
TV Goodness:Â I just readÂ that you are doing a show with David Duchovny. Can you just briefly tell me anything about that?
Chris: Yeah, I canâ€™t really discuss much storyline. I started yesterday and I play David Duchovnyâ€™s son on NBC’s Aquarius and the show follows David playing a cop in the ’60s who is chasing down, who we come to find out is Charles Manson. Itâ€™s a very gritty show for NBC. Itâ€™s so well written. And David characterâ€™s has a very complicated family life as well and thatâ€™s kind of where my character comes into play. Iâ€™m very excited about that as well. I believe that comes out in 2015.
TV Goodness:Â Thatâ€™s really exciting.Â It seems that things are really ramping up for you.Â Itâ€™s funny I was looking at your bio and I was like youâ€™re a member of the Groundlings and a lot of your stuff is drama. I always feel that if you can do comedy really well then you can do dramaâ€¦
Chris:Â Thatâ€™s really funny. Iâ€™m not a member of the Groundlings but they have a school there. Itâ€™s a very strict, hard school all the way through.Â They have five levels. Thereâ€™s a wait list of three years to get into level three and it is intense. And Iâ€™ve taken the first two levels and I had the best time. And those were the smartest things that Iâ€™ve ever done as a young actor, fresh in L.A. So challenging and truly helping me in every aspect of my work including drama because it makes you listen. You just have to listen. And youâ€™re right. I love comedy and most everything that Iâ€™ve done is really dramatic! I did a film called General Education which was coming of age. And my parents were played by Janeane Garafolo and Larry Miller and that was a comedy and got to do that. And it was really fun. But other than that most everything I have done is pretty dramatic. When you see The Maze Runner, talk about dramatic!
TV Goodness:Â You know, our website is called TV Goodness so what I ask the people I always interview is what do you watch? What are your shows, your must see TV shows?
Chris:Â I love that!Â I tell you what, my number one show of all time; obviously it ended, is Breaking Bad. I think that show just changed the game for everything. Currently Iâ€™m watching and I canâ€™t believe that this show doesnâ€™t get better ratings, the best network drama on television:Â The Good Wife. I watch The Good Wife every Sunday with my good friend Paul who was on my last shoot. I watch a lot of TV. I like Game of Thrones. I like Orange is the New Black…House of Cards —Â such a phenomenal series, I love that show. Thereâ€™s a lot of good content out there.
TV Goodness: How did you get into acting? Youâ€™re from Texas and I was reading your bio and you started as a model. How did that transition happen for you?
Chris: Yeah, I started initially in Dallas and in the ’90s there were a lot of headquarters for big businesses, places like J.C. Penny, Hasbro, etc. And as a kid I was stopped in a mall when I was three years old with my mom by an agent. I started working with her for modeling for print and then commercials. And thatâ€™s how I started doing that. I just realized that I loved being in front of the camera. It was always my decision to do all of this and my parents were always supportive. I was just always such a ham as a kid. And always just had an imagination. Always played pretend and so they said letâ€™s get him in an acting class. You want to play pretend, if you want to do it keep doing it. They always encouraged my creativity from a very young age. And I always had that same agent from doing print work as a kid and they helped me get other auditions for television. Walker Texas Ranger was there. It always kept building from there. I did my first big feature film out of Austin when I was there was a film called The Rookie. I had two lines. It was the coolest thing ever.
TV Goodness: I love that movie.
Chris: Itâ€™s a great movie.Â Â
TV Goodness: My dad loves that movie.Â My dad is one of those people who could watch the same movies over and over again and thatâ€™s one of them.
Chris: Thatâ€™s hilarious! Itâ€™s a really good movie. Dennis Quaid is so good in that film. And then after high school I moved out to L.A. and started taking acting classes out here as soon as I got here.Â I also worked at restaurants for many years.Â I also went to college at the same time.Â I donâ€™t even know how I did it looking back; how did I work as a server, how did I go to college and act? I donâ€™t know.
TV Goodness: You do what youâ€™ve got to do.
TV Goodness: Â And now itâ€™s paying off.
Chris: I just feel like the luckiest guy. I would not be here if it were not for so many people that I have met along the way and taken a chance on me. This is the culmination of people in my life that supported me.
TV Goodness:Â Let me tell you, I hope I get to interview you again soon because things are going really well for you. Iâ€™m excited. I think The Last Ship is a great show and Iâ€™m glad I get to tell people about it.
Chris:Â And I tell you what. I hope people keep watching, too, because the second half of this season is really, really good.Â Things start taking turns in unexpected directions, especially at the very end of the season. Itâ€™s going to be mind blowing.
The Last Ship was recently picked up for a second season!Â So start watching now so you donâ€™t get behind. And keep your eyes open for Chris Sheffield. I have a feeling he is going to be around for a while.
The Last Ship airs on TNT Sunday nights atÂ 9/8c.
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