Q&A with Andre Braugher

Nov 07 2012, 11:42 AM by Christine Montgomery

Andre Braugher plays Captain Marcus Chaplain on Last Resort, a disciplined, uncompromising leader who is always thinking four steps ahead of the game and stands for no less than the justice he so fervidly believes he deserves. It's a role that presents many challenges, and Braugher's performance is a reminder of why he's one the most celebrated classically trained actors in Hollywood. In a recent Q&A, Andre Braugher answers a few questions about preparing for the role of Marcus Chaplin, his father-son relationship with Scott Speedman, and offers an interesting analogy as advice for aspiring actors.

Last Resort airs Thursdays at 8.00 et/ptGetty Images

Was there one factor that drew you to this series? 

No it really wasn’t one factor. I mean, this is a show with a very ambitious premise and it could easily evolve into something kind of silly. But Shawn Ryan has a craft for making very interesting, provocative television and his abilities are apparent.


How intensive was it to become Navy ready for Last Resort? 

I think all of the training I could really do was to maintain my health. I’m not the spring chicken I used to be. I work out with a trainer and I try to run a couple of times a week.

The physical training was not so intense but in terms of the scholarship necessary to really get into the piece, that’s where it proved most challenging. I’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of talking to Naval officers. And it’s that part that seems most challenging, not so much the physical transformation as much.


What about your character, Chaplin, do you relate to and like the most? 

I like the fact that he’s thinking ahead. It’s the strategic part of Chaplin that’s fascinating to me. The fact that the next step may seem the next right one but when you think several steps out further it turns out to be a misstep.

During that time when everyone is saying to themselves "we’ve got to get the hell out of here, we’ve got to submerge the boat, we’ve got to run", it’s at that point that Chaplin was thinking, in that ten minute scramble back to the boat, where Chaplin was thinking "we’ve got to fire. We’ve got to play this enormous game of chicken. And after they backed down from this enormous game of chicken we’ve got to go even further. We’ve got to put the fear of God into them so they understand."


How much more tense will the situation get between Chaplin and Prosser as the season goes on? 

Well, Robert is a very intense guy so this is what happens I think when patriots clash is. We’re both very passionate about what it is that we’re doing and we’re both supremely concerned about the health and welfare of our crew.

I would have to say that Chaplin needs Prosser very much not only because he exercises discipline over the crew but it’s because he is a touchstone for the crew. If the chief of the boat thinks that it’s right then the guys have a tendency to fall in line. And so Prosser is very important to Chaplin and is very important for Chaplin that Prosser understands that our whole goal here is to get back home and to get back home in safety.


How has Marcus’s and Sam’s relationship grown throughout the series? What do you enjoy most about that relationship? 

Well here’s the thing. Scott is stepping into his own right now. Just in terms of being what, 37 years old, he’s at his physical prime, he’s at his energetic prime, and he’s maturing as an actor. So it’s quite a pleasure to work with him and to see him growing right before my very eyes.

...So it’s a mentor relationship, it’s a father/son relationship, and it’s a relationship with two men I think that admire each other and want the best for each other. So that’s what we’re working on a character level and that’s what we’re working on an actor level. It seems like a good thing and I’m looking forward to exploring the relationship for as long as we go this year and then hopefully next year after that.


Have you and the other cast members heard from military people about the characters you’re playing and the premise and how provocative it is? 

The premise is ambitious to say the least and our job every week really is to fill in that ambitious premise with some very down to earth, honest, raw, detailed kind of acting and storytelling. And it’s one thing to have an ambitious premise, but it’s another thing to drift off into a kind of fantasy land behind that premise. And I think what we’re dedicated to is making sure that it’s honest and it’s raw, it’s down to earth, and it’s compelling.

And so far that has worked and that’s our great goal. That and delivering the action every week, and basically giving the television audience a movie every week. And that’s a tall order but so far we’ve succeeded and we’re really looking forward to seeing how far we can go with this thing.


What's your advice for aspiring actors?  

It’s the same as I have for football players which is be prepared, so that when the coach gives you the ball you don’t fumble it. And that seems simple, but it’s the hardest thing in the world is to stay prepared in anticipation of the opportunity. That’s what I would say. Get trained and stay prepared and opportunity which is not every day is going to come your way and good things will follow on.




Watch Last Resort Thursdays at 8.00 et/pt.


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