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Performers Of The Month - August Winner: Outstanding Actor - Eric Dane



To lead a series is to carry the weight of its success or accept the burden of its failure. The lead can either make or break the series, so casting lead characters is critical to the fate of the show. Not every performer can - or wants to - have that kind of responsibility. Some are cast to lead but simply falter under the extreme strain of the responsibility placed on them. Others, those with extreme charisma and an innate gift to command attention, are the ones that make leading a series look easy despite the reality being much different. They can grab viewers’ attention and enthrall them before they even know what hit them. In all of these regards, and way more than can be quickly listed, The Last Ship hit the jackpot when they cast Eric Dane as CNO Tom Chandler. He embodies everything a good lead should be while also being a kind and compassionate man who, by all accounts, cares about his fellow castmates and fans alike. His immense talent shines through in every character he has portrayed, but there is something about Tom Chandler that has brought out an entirely different side to him. He portrays the stern courageous persona of a senior naval officer while also allowing Tom to show his imperfections in a brilliantly natural way. Because of all this, it is no surprise that Eric Dane was granted the fan-given title of Most Outstanding Actor of August, primarily for his performance in the episode of The Last Ship entitled Scuttle (3x10).

Throughout the run of the series to date, he has delivered more passionate speeches than can be counted. His incredible speech giving prowess makes viewers hang onto his every word because of how charismatically he delivers his lines. Even when compared to his other grand speeches, there was something truly special about the one in Scuttle. When the speech begins, he is sitting down with all attention on him; as the scene ramps up, he gets to his feet and suddenly he feels ten feet tall, towering over everyone. His voice was firm yet passionate as Chandler took to pacing the room as he left his mark. In this moment, Chandler was reclaiming what was rightfully his and, after that speech, it was clearly evident why so many people were willing to risk everything to stand by his side. He is more than their CNO and more than just a leader, he is hope personified. In a series where hope is sometimes scarce, his strong words and confident persona give everyone hope that better days are near. The writers brilliantly crafted the words, but Eric Dane brought them to life in an extraordinarily powerful way. Everyone sharing that scene with him had their eyes locked on him and I don’t entirely know that was by choice. I think that they are as easily captured by his impassioned line delivery as viewers are and can’t help but watch him in awe. He has an incredible talent that gives even his fellow performers pause when he is performing. This is an extraordinary characteristic that not every performer possesses, but when a natural born talent like Dane wields it this gift becomes something transcendent.

He has a commanding nature that perfectly suited him to play Tom Chandler and that was extremely evident in every scene he had opposite Emerson Brooks (Captain Joseph Meylan) in Scuttle. Whenever Meylan challenged Chandler, there was an immediate about face by Chandler that Dane executed with extreme precision. It was evident that, at certain points, Chandler was just barely managing to tolerate Meylan and it was very obvious through Dane’s performance. Of particular note was the scene in the corridor where Meylan was essentially disrespecting the decision of his commanding officer. Chandler was having none of it and immediately shot him down and put him in his place. The transition was precise as Dane turned on his heels and steeled his face with fierce, commanding determination to convey Chandler’s intense dislike of what Meylan was saying. That moment couldn’t have been better executed if he tried. It was a very telling moment of how much stress Chandler was under with everything going on and he wasn’t going to have any one of his subordinates disrespecting him. Moments like this show how much control Dane has over his performance. He is precise with his every action and calculated with his every word. When he speaks, everyone has to listen because his performance demands that kind of attention.

One of the quieter moments of this intense episode occurred in Chandler’s quarters when Sasha (Bridget Regan) paid him a visit to figure out what was going on and what his plan was to retake command. Anyone that has followed Regan’s career knows that she is an incredibly commanding actress in her own right with a talent that always impresses, so to have her and Dane in a single scene together is something truly extraordinary to watch. The Last Ship couldn’t have cast the role of Sasha with anyone better than Regan because her energy is right on point with Dane’s. When they are in scenes together, the product is something truly magical. And this scene is no exception to that statement. He played Chandler as incredibly determined and focused on the plan while she played Sasha as slightly cautious yet very resolute to help him make a stand. Despite Regan’s commanding performance, the moment Dane geared up his performance and Chandler was addressing Sasha directly, even she couldn’t manage to hold the screen as he dominated the moment. Here is the interesting thing about Dane: He is an immensely giving performer, but when a moment calls for his character to be the dominant power in the scene then he can steal it from even the most talented of performers. But the moment a scene calls for his character to take a step back from the forefront, you can visibly see him reigning in his performance to let others shine. It is in both of these scenarios when it becomes utterly evident why the show cast him as the lead. If he has an ego, it’s never evident in his performances. Even when he’s delivering a commanding performance and grabbing the spotlight, he never portrays himself as better than those in the scene with him and that’s important to note, because while Chandler is the senior naval officer onboard, he respects every member of his crew and looks down on none of them which is exactly how Dane works opposite his co-stars. I think that is what made this simple scene so poignant. Chandler was making a very bold move and he had to put on a strong and determined exterior to rally his team, but even as Dane was overtaking Regan’s performance he still ensured that she was never lost in the moment and that Sasha’s importance to Chandler’s plan was evident. He did what the scene demanded of him, but was still respectful to Regan. That right there is the epitome of a stand-up man and an extraordinary performer.

While Regan was only added to the cast in Season Three, Adam Baldwin, who plays CO Mike Slattery, has been with Dane since the beginning of the series. They have such a natural ease together that when they share scenes they don’t even have to speak to allow viewers to understand what is going through their characters minds. These two have a very comparable energy that makes their scenes together all the more interesting, like when Chandler and Slattery were watching the Hayward sink along with Meylan. When Meylan refused the detonation controller, there was a look shared between Slattery and Chandler that required no words to be spoken to understand what the two men were conveying to each other. That kind of effortless nonverbal conveying of thoughts can only be pulled off by two performers who have an extreme respect for one another and have an unfathomable innate connection. They have a very organic chemistry that perfectly portrays the respect and friendship their characters share.

Dane doesn’t limit this natural chemistry to just the performers he shares the majority of his screen time with. No matter who is in a scene with him he manages to create this beautifully organic chemistry that allows all performers involved to portray a very natural relationship between their characters. No matter if the person he is working opposite of is a guest star or a series regular; he treats them all the same. It’s easy for performers to build natural relationships between their characters when they regularly work together, but it takes a consummate and seasoned talent to be able to instantly create the chemistry he does with everyone. Going back to using Meylan as an example, when he and Brooks shared their first face-to-face scene, as they watched the Heyward sink, there was an instant sense of tension between their characters. Guest stars come onto a show to fulfill a short term role in the story and, in most cases, they haven’t worked with their scene partners before. They are also still adjusting to the tone and pace of the show, so the responsibility to set the tone for the moment falls on the series regular. Now, not every regular on a show is capable of instantly building a rapport with a new scene partner, but Dane does it so effortlessly that viewers would be forgiven for thinking that Brooks had been with the series from the start. That is a very unique gift that not every performer possesses.

It is easy to analyze Dane’s performances because he is always very consistent in the work he delivers. He never stumbles or waivers in his steadfast performance of the powerful Tom Chandler, but then again, no one expected anything less from him. From the early days of his career, he has always been someone that garnered attention for his exceptional control over his performance. Whatever a scene demands of him he can pull off in an instant. He can take a character through a whole array of emotions without losing a beat. What he does is noteworthy and his dedication to his craft is admirable. He cares about this show and it’s evident every single time he is on screen. Dane is an extreme talent that deserves all the accolades his fans give him, because like far too many talented performers like him, he doesn’t get the industry recognition he deserves.

This was an extraordinary season for him because it took Chandler on his most extreme journey yet. For a time, he and his crew were without a country or any definitive leadership. Everything fell directly on Chandler’s shoulders and along the way he lost a lot of good soldiers and friends. Every loss weighed on him and chipped away a tiny bit more at his soul. His win was for the month of August, but I would be remiss to not commend Dane for his steadfast performances from the first scene of the season to the last. This was a season of tour de force performances by him and he deserves every accolade that he can receive for what I believe to be the best season of The Last Ship to date. Scuttle provided an entire hour of extremely powerful performances by him and it was impossible to cover them all in this one article, so please feel free to use the comments section to highlight all the other extraordinary moments that this article wasn’t able to cover.

Eric Dane was your fan pick as the most Outstanding Actor of August 2016. Hit the comments below to tell others why you think he earned this title and what you most enjoyed about his August performances.

PLEASE READ: This is an article to recognize Eric's work and to honor his performance in August on The Last Ship. Shipper-related bashing will not be tolerated in the comments, even from Eric’s fans. Honor the performer and his performance. Have fun and be kind to one another.

Note: This is a generic warning to avoid any issues in the comments section and to help keep this a fun and safe place to gush about the winners. This does not apply to every show or every performer, but is on all POTM articles to ensure maximum enjoyment of all the winner’s fans.


Very special thanks to Bradley Adams for helping to edit this article.

About the Author - Aimee Hicks
Aimee works for a newspaper in North Carolina and has a BA in Broadcasting and Cinema. She has been a TV lover since before she really understood what TV was and has a passion for analyzing performances and theorizing what may happen on her favorite shows. Her interest in television covers just about every genre, but her first love is the sci-fi/fantasy genre. For the 2016/2017 season she will be reviewing Chesapeake Shores, Dark Matter, Frequency, Gilmore Girls, Jessica Jones, Lucifer, and Orphan Black. She will also be handling the Best Scene Polls for Supergirl and previewing several new and returning shows. She also oversees the popular SpoilerTV feature, Performers of the Month (#POTM) which highlights the most outstanding actor and actress from each month. You can email her at aimee@spoilertv.com.
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