Travis Van Winkle on ‘The Last Ship’ and Filming in Tight Quarters

Travis Van WInkle The Last Ship Interview
Travis Van Winkle from ‘The Last Ship’ at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con.
Travis Van Winkle wasn’t bothered by working in tight quarters on TNT’s The Last Ship, a new dramatic series from producer Michael Bay. Being able to actually work onboard a real Navy ship helped the cast really get into their characters. “It’s awesome. I loved it,” said Van Winkle when asked about the unique shooting experience while at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con. “I loved being on a ship. To shoot on a live Navy Destroyer, there’s real guns around you, there’s real Navy men and Navy women, it just feels more authentic when you’re on a ship, so who cares that it’s tight quarters. We’re on this crazy, huge amazing machine that can do extraordinary things, so I enjoyed it.”

Travis Van Winkle The Last Ship Interview

Can you tease what’s coming up for your character?

Travis Van Winkle: “I can give you a little hint without giving too much. Throughout the first part of the season, we know that my character has let himself down a bit in his leadership responsibilities because he’s got sidetracked with romance. So as the season progresses, my character really starts to align with what’s important and regain not only his own trust but the crew’s trust. So even though no one knows what’s happened yet, I know, or my character knows that he’s not being the leader that he knows he is. So throughout the rest of season it’s just about building my way back into the leader I know that I am.”

Do you have any military background in your family?

Travis Van Winkle: “Yeah, my grandfather was in World War II, flew planes, and my mom and dad actually met in the Air Force and they fell in love in the Air Force. So my character is, I guess, living on that tradition.”

Are we going to see more with that romance?

Travis Van Winkle: [Laughing] “Does romance ever die?”

They’re not in a good place right now.

Travis Van Winkle: “What I love about this storyline is it’s difficult. Love is difficult sometimes and it’s hard. It doesn’t always work and there’s pain involved, and sacrifice. So throughout the season, I feel like it’s the push and the pull that everyone that’s ever been in love goes through. No one comes out of being in love unscathed. Pain is 100% reality of love and I feel like this relationship represents that and there is a journey that continues down the road. I can’t say any more than that.”

Does the dog survive?

Travis Van Winkle: “No comment. I’m kidding, I have no idea. I haven’t read any of the scripts.”

There hasn’t been a whole lot of death so far.

Travis Van Winkle:There have been. Every one of my friends has died. Throughout the first five episodes, I’ve lost four people.”

But the main characters have all survived.

Travis Van Winkle: “Yes, I see what you’re saying.”

Will it get grimmer before it gets better?

Travis Van Winkle: “That’s usually what happens, right? It’s like any great song. It has to come up to this intense crescendo before there’s a release. The stakes, the intensity, the situations, the relationships, everything just escalates and escalates to the point where the finale’s going to leave you saying, ‘Oh, no, no…Season two.'”

What can you say about the finale?

Travis Van Winkle: “So the finale, I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this or not, but it’s a musical. They’re going to throw everyone just a curve ball.”

Like Grease?

Travis Van Winkle: “It’s a mixture. It’s a fusion, actually. It’s a musical fusion.”

What influence has Michael Bay had on the show?

Travis Van Winkle: “So this is my third time working with Michael Bay and one thing that Michael Bay brings is intensity. Whether he’s on set or not, that intensity resonates on set and it raises everyone’s standards. So I feel like working on this job even though he hasn’t been on set every day, or even that much at all, we know that his stamp is on this and that he’s going to be watching everything. So everyone’s busting their ass and really extending past what they thought they were capable of to create the best possible product, and it’s a blessing to have him being the captain of this show because he’s known for action, he’s known for quality in movies. So to bring that to television, there’s this excitement and enthusiasm that all of us are carrying and we’re really doing our best to live up to that standard.”

Did he want you to play this particular role?

Travis Van Winkle: “I had to audition for this role, but my tape went to him and he was like, ‘Yes.’ I’m glad that I’ve worked with him prior. You keep working with the same people. If you create good relationships, hopefully you continue to work with those people throughout the rest of your career and so far that’s proven that way with Michael.”

How much of you is in your character?

Travis Van Winkle: “Well, you know, Jack Nicholson says that acting is autobiographical so no matter what, big parts of me are for sure in this character. But my parents were in the Air Force, they met in the Air Force, they weren’t avid about the Air Force and so I didn’t grow up with this military structure. I didn’t grow up being told that I should go to the military. Even though they came from the military, we didn’t really have a military family. But, it’s nice to carry on that tradition because that is where they met and my grandfather did serve in World War II and any of the armed services to me represent phenomenal, amazing people that are willing to sacrifice their lives for others, and what that stands for is something that I stand for so I’m just glad to be in alignment with that.”

Is this your first Comic Con?

Travis Van Winkle: “This is my first time and it’s awesome. You have fans here that really care and they love the work, so for me this is a walk in the park. It’s nice to be around people that appreciate what you do.”

-By Rebecca Murray

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