Landing a role on a television series is a major achievement, even when you join the cast in its fifth and final season. For Troy Doherty, who boarded TNT’s “The Last Ship” as the scrappy Clayton Swain, a cadet in the U.S. Naval Academy, he’s savoring every second of his voyage, even while casually suggesting “spin-off” to the universe. (So what say you, Universe?)
We recently sat down with Doherty to discuss the last days of “The Last Ship,” talking trains, and why music and acting go hand in hand.
TrunkSpace: You’ve joined the fifth and final season of “The Last Ship” as Clayton Swain. Do you think there was less pressure coming into a project in its fifth year knowing that it was also taking its final bow? Was there something kind of freeing about not having to worry if it will or won’t continue forward?
Doherty: Whether it’s the first season or the fifth season, I feel like there is always pressure when it comes to filming a worldwide show like “The Last Ship.” With that said, I wish it could’ve lived on past five seasons. It’s such a great show and I’m just so happy to have been a part of it.
TrunkSpace: Is there a level of what “could have been” had Clayton’s story continued beyond Season 5?
Doherty: With such an incredible writing staff, we can only imagine the possibilities. I know the fans and I would love to see where his adventure could have taken him. Spin-off?
TrunkSpace: There’s only a handful of episodes left, but what emotions do you juggle as you gear up for a new project to be released, particularly when it comes to something like “The Last Ship,” a series with a very loyal fan base?
Doherty: I’m beyond excited. We finished filming “The Last Ship” just about a year ago, so I’ve been looking forward to this for a while! My emotions at the moment are a giant amalgamation of excitement, gratefulness, honor, confidence, and happiness.
TrunkSpace: As far as his personality, what elements of Clayton were you the most interested to tap into? What is it about him as a character that made the job itself so interesting?
Doherty: Clayton isn’t your run-of-the-mill Naval Cadet. When both of his parents died from the plague, he needed to fend for himself. He isn’t afraid of the fight, whether it’s physically or mentally. He isn’t afraid to stand up and ask the hard questions. I really liked that about Clayton. He isn’t doing this for personal gain – he is doing it for the greater good. Clayton to his core is a good person and really cares. As an actor, that really resonated with me.
TrunkSpace: In terms of on-screen work, 10 episodes is the longest you have ever spent with a character on the episodic side of things, which is what you will be doing as Clayton. What was that experience like for you, getting to spend an extended period of time with one character?
Doherty: I really loved being able to dive into a character. It’s not every day as actors we get to really develop a character over time. Being able to play Clayton for four months was a great experience for me. Being able to see the character grow into something new over time was fascinating. I think the fans are really going to love how Clayton develops.
TrunkSpace: In the world of voice acting, you’ve quadrupled that amount of work, appearing as Emery in over 50 episodes of “Chuggington,” a series that those of us here with young children know all too well. From what we could tell, that was something like eight years of your life. What is that like, committing yourself to something for such a large period of time, and at the same time, getting to do so with a level of anonymity?
Doherty: “Chuggington” was so much fun. It was originally a British kids’ show that was brought over to the United States. All of the animation had already been completed. When it came to recording my character of Emery, I needed to match the mouth movement of the British voice actor. It was such a different experience than just being able to record it on my own. Timing and inflection of each word needed to be precise. At the time, I never really thought about the anonymity of it. I was just having fun!
TrunkSpace: Was voice over work always part of the plan or did it become a pleasant surprise of your career trajectory?
Doherty: It was always part of the plan. I love performing. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a worldwide show like “The Last Ship” or if I’m in my sweatpants behind a microphone. I love it. Being able to walk into a booth and do all of the crazy voices I do at home really makes me happy about what I do.
TrunkSpace: Do you approach inhabiting a character in animation the same way that you do with on-screen work? Where are the similarities and where are the differences?
Doherty: I think so. If my character is chasing after someone, I need to be able to sell it with just my voice. So, what easier way to sell it than running in place? To be the character isn’t just in the voice, it’s in your posture, the way you move your hands, everything. It’s the same as if I was doing it on set. Except on set, you actually get to see me.
TrunkSpace: “The Last Ship” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. If you knew things were coming to an end for our big ball of blue known as Earth, how would you spend your time? What would be on your end of days bucket list?
Doherty: Well, I’d love to spend it with my family. I came into this world with them, so I guess it would be poetic to go out with them. Plus, my family knows how to have a good time, so I know we would go out with a bang! As for my bucket list? I’ve always wanted to go skydiving. To be falling through the air having a catch with a tennis ball would be pretty great.
TrunkSpace: You’re also a musician with an EP, “Citizen’s Arrest,” out now. Do you view your musical career separate from your acting career or do they all fall under one creative umbrella?
Doherty: I think they go hand in hand. I’m an artist, whether it’s singing, acting, or cooking. From a practical sense, there have been numerous times I’ve had to sing or play an instrument for an audition. So yes, they fall under a creative umbrella! I consciously choose to follow my creativity, wherever it takes me.
“The Last Ship” airs Sundays on TNT.