The new ABC drama series Last Resort, from co-creators Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Karl Gajdusek, tells a suspenseful, emotional and action-packed story about what happens when a U.S. submarine crew receives an order to fire nuclear weapons at a foreign country, and then ignores that order. With nowhere left to turn, Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) and XO Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) take the sub on the run and bring the men and women of the Colorado to an island where they will find refuge, as they try to clear their names and get back home.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Daisy Betts – who plays Lieutenant Grace Shepard, among the first wave of female officers to serve on US submarines – talked about the appeal of the show and what she loved about the character, how much fun it was to see Grace really have to take charge and come into her own, that viewers will get to see the characters let loose a bit, how she doesn’t think she could personally survive on a submarine, and how this show makes you think about and evaluate this type of scenario, since it really isn’t too far off from something that could happen. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
DAISY BETTS: The amazing thing about this show is that it actually has a little something for everyone, and that’s what I liked about it. I was a little dubious, at first, with the Naval element because I thought, “Oh, my goodness, the first 10 pages of this script is all jargon. I have to read it three times before I understand what’s happening.” That’s particularly hard when you see something on the page. Obviously, it’s a little bit easier on screen. So, once I got past that, I just could not put it down. I was like, “Where is this going? Oh, my god!” I said to my husband, “Oh, my god, there are nuclear weapons and they’re actually going to fire!” I just couldn’t believe that they were going there.
So, I loved the story and I knew that Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek were proven writers. But, the character I was looking at was Grace, and she was very functional. She was just there, delivering these commands, and I couldn’t get a sense for where she was going. So, before I committed to anything, I had a big chat with them and said, “Is this the token female role? What’s going on here?” And they said, “No, Grace is very important.” Now, I’m embarrassed for ever having asked. She really is just so incredible, and I love everything that she does and what she stands for and what she represents. It’s just a lot of fun to play. I have a lot to work with. The fact that she’s accused of nepotism, with her father being the Admiral, so she’s got to prove herself doubly as much. So, it was a combination of so many things.
There’s such an interesting dynamic with Grace being this powerful woman in a man’s world, but also being the one that is more easily intimidated because she’s surrounded by men who think they can physically intimidate her. Because she stands up for herself when she needs to, where do you think her strength and confidence comes from?
BETTS: With her father being the Admiral and a very successful Naval man, she made a decision that that was the path that she wanted to take. As soon as she made that decision, she knew what she was going to be up against. She knew that it was really a man’s world and that she would have to just buck up and do whatever that takes, if that was the path that she chose. She’s always wanted to make her father proud of her. Particularly in this situation, where she doesn’t have her father there to save her or look over her shoulder, she just has to decide what she stands for and what her best assets are, to get the job done. I don’t think it’s anything particularly female. I think that’s jsut a little part of who she is. The fact that she can connect with the other female characters, but she is really tough and I love that about her. There’s nothing that she can’t do.
What can you say to tease what’s to come for Lieutenant Grace Shepard?
BETTS: In “Eight Bells,” she’s largely recovering from her big exploits last week, so it’s not a huge episode for Grace, but the suspense is still there. She’s frustrated that she’s not in there, being a part of it, when they try to deliver on Serrat’s demands. Just when you think you’ve got the story figured out, it’s going to take an unexpected turn. Every episode does that, which is brilliant.
She’s very much the third in charge. It’s the Captain (Andre Braugher), the XO (Scott Speedman) and Grace. She’s right there, amongst it all. We’ll see her actually be in charge because the XO and the Captain have other business to attend to, coming up in the episode on October 25th. Grace really comes into her own and proves that she’s willing to make the tough calls and not crumble under pressure. That was a lot of fun to play.
And we do also get to see the characters let their hair down, so to speak. There will be a bit of light relief, in such an intense situation. Not that they’re goofing off or having a party, because the stakes are still there, but the powers that be realize that you can’t keep doing this to the sailors. Eventually, they’re going to go crazy, so you have to give them something that they enjoy. That was fun to shoot. We did that last week.
BETTS: In all honesty, I think the answer is no, I couldn’t survive it. I’m very admiring of the people that do that. I don’t think I could do it. Even our sets sometimes get claustrophobic, but we do have a lot of crew members in there, as well. I always seem to be bumping things. There are pipes sticking out of the corridors, which are very narrow, and I can be a little bit clumsy, at times. It’s tight quarters, and apparently our set is a little bit bigger than the real deal. Certainly, I don’t think I would be choosing to be in that arena, if I were to join the Navy.
Does this show really make you think about and evaluate this type of scenario, since it really isn’t too far off from something that could happen?
BETTS: Yeah. The great thing about the show is that everybody is going to question. There have already been some critics saying, “Oh, that would never happen,” but I can honestly defend every action that’s written in this script. What would you do? Are you going to go and kill four million innocent people, or would you ask the question? We asked the question, and now we’re under attack. Everything that we do, after that, is to keep ourselves alive. I think the show is really going to make people question what we would do, if this happened. There are huge things, like loyalties and morals, and love and loss of the people left behind in D.C., and our families and loved ones. There are huge themes and an epic scope to this show, which is going to keep it moving. If people are enjoying what we’re doing, it could go for a long time. I’d be very happy for that to happen.
Last Resort airs on Thursday nights on ABC, and you can learn more about the show at www.abc.go.com/shows/last-resort.