Elisabeth Rohm has been acting since 1997. People might know her for her portrayals of Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn in the TV series “Law & Order,” DA Amanda Taylor in “Stalker,” Polito in the movie “American Hustle,” Peggy in the movie “Joy,” and now Allison Shaw in the TNT series “The Last Ship,” now in its third season.
The show’s plot has the world recovering from a global virus pandemic that nearly destroyed the population. This third season involves two plots, an action adventure that has a U.S. naval destroyer combating the Chinese and pirates, while on the home front the president and his administration are trying to keep a united America as they battle the different regional leaders. Elisabeth plays the highly intelligent and capable White House Chief of Staff to President Michener. Below is an interview with her about her role.
Elise Cooper: This season seems to be “House Of Cards” meets “Combat.” Do you agree?
Elisabeth Rohm: Joining the show this season is very exciting because the writers introduced this entirely new political world. I was a fan of the show and wondered how they would be able to present the political arena into “The Last Ship.” Since this is an election year I think the show is relatable to what is actually happening today. I think of what is going to happen internationally based on whoever is voted President. What we are seeing on the show is what we are living every day. It is art meeting reality.
EC: How does your character fit into the themes?
ER: The show explores the global powers and the rebuilding of a government. My character delves into power, politics, greed, and the tension created. It delves into what politicians think and how they sometimes convince themselves of their own vision versus what is right or wrong. Unfortunately, that is all I can say, since otherwise I would be divulging state secrets.
EC: Do you think it is realistic to today’s politicians?
ER: I think what the show’s president, Michener, did for personal reasons is reflected in today’s political families. Watching Chelsea Clinton talking about her mom or Ivanka Trump talking about her dad gave insight from a daughter’s perspective. They presented the humanness of a politician within their daily life. This human side of a politician through a child’s eye can also be seen by anyone who is a parent and will be able to identify with President Michener and what he did.
EC: Since this show is a military thriller did you have any military experience?
ER: Not per se. But for the last 10 years I have worked with the Red Cross. Because I wanted to help wounded warriors and their families I had the privilege to go to Walter Reed to spend time with them and their families. I also went to a military hospital in Texas, Brooke Army Medical Center, over Christmas. This one experience made an impression on me, when dancing started after the speeches. I said “I do not know how to dance the two-step.” This soldier came up and taught me how to dance it. After seeing his prosthetic leg I thought “what are you complaining about? How can you not try? Get up girl and get going with this soldier.”
EC: What did you get out of these experiences?
ER: I saw their feelings, the interaction with their families, and how they were re-integrating into our society. When they found out I was born in Germany I was asked if I ever went to the hospital where those wounded go before they come to the US. Unfortunately, I have not. But I will never forget for as long as I live the time I spent with those wounded warriors in the U.S. It was an honor to spend time with those that served and are suffering.
EC: Did these experiences help you with your role?
ER: Yes. As White House chief of staff I have to understand those serving on the USS Nathan James. Seeing those in the hospital I was able to understand how those in the military have contributed and made sacrifices for our freedom and safety as a nation. I am hoping viewers can understand the complexities of the situation our military is facing. The show goes into what those serving have given up, experience, have lost, and what they fear. I think it gives the audience a greater sense of the everyday experience.
EC: You have played diverse roles over the years. Please explain.
ER: What I love is to play different characters from different walks of life with different backgrounds. In my roles each character talked different, felt different, and looked different. This is the joy of acting, allowing each character to be distinct. My job is to bring my character to life. After the editing occurs I can see how the others involved in the production view the character. With Allison, I saw my role as the person who must be an honest advisor, a protector, the keeper of secrets, and someone who needs to question. To the most powerful person, the US President, she must be the silent one in the room who takes in everything.
EC: What would you like to tell the public?
ER: I hope through my character and with this show they see the need to support those serving, those who have served, and their families. I have such gratitude and I hope to further develop relationships with the military. As a mother I want to share my thanks and offer my deepest heartfelt sincerity.