Last Thursday, Sept. 27, ABC premiered
for the first of two syndicated feature stories I'm doing on the show -- a new drama from Shawn Ryan ("The Unit," "The Shield"). It focuses on the crew of the USS Colorado, a nuclear-armed submarine forced to flee to a remote island after Capt. Marcus Chaplin's (Andre Braugher) reluctance to obey what he sees as a questionable order makes the boat the target of friendly fire.
(Above, R-L -- Scott Speedman, Robert Patrick, Andre Braugher; at left, Speedman)
Robert Patrick co-stars as
Master Chief Joe Prosser,
the highest-ranking enlisted sailor aboard the Colorado, who has deep issues with Chaplin's actions. Patrick has very definite ideas about who his character is.
"Joe Prosser represents every red-blooded American, every red-blooded, red-stated, believes in this country, believes in the military, believes in God. That's who Joe Prosser is. Tread lightly. Don't tread on me. Give me liberty or give me death."
Get off my lawn?
"Trouble With the Curve,"
which premiered last weekend, Eastwood plays an aging Major League Baseball scout seeking talent for the Atlanta Braves; Patrick plays the team's
Veteran actor Eastwood -- who was also once mayor of California town Carmel-By-the-Sea --
recently made news with his appearance at the Republican National Convention in late August in Tampa, Fla. Speaking just before GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- who recently
invited "Dirty Jobs" star Mike Rowe
to participate in an Ohio event -- Eastwood carried on an imaginary, TelePrompTer-free conversation with President Obama, represented onstage by an empty chair (below, at right).
The incident sparked praise, confusion and criticism and inspired an
"Empty Chair Day"
"What he did at the RNC," says Patrick, "it was brilliant. It was great publicity for our movie. It was great for him. He's an 82-year-old guy. You're taken aback, because you're so shocked, because he's off TelePrompTer.
"He caused 'Empty Chair Day.' He's a rock god! Clint Eastwood is a rock god. You're going to stand up there and tell me that he doesn't have b***s? Come on. In front of all those people? He didn't even know what he was going to say. He made that up. He had no TelePrompTer. He made that up on the spot!
"Because he's Clint the F***ing Eastwood, that's why."
(Below at left, scene from "Trouble With the Curve," R-L, Matthew Lillard, Patrick, John Goodman)
Asked how this all relates to his current role, Patrick -- who says he's the Los Angeles charter holder of the
Boozefighters motorcycle club
-- explains, "Joe Prosser comes from America, OK? That's why I ride with a motorcycle club. That's why I do what I do, playing this part. Shawn Ryan, he knew when he cast me.
"I'm actually an Independent, for the record. I'll take a stand and say I know who I'm voting for in 2012, and it ain't the incumbent."
UPDATE 10/5: It looks like Eastwood's "Empty Chair" gag even caught the eye of the vaunted New Yorker magazine ...