Falling Skies has returned for its third season, as the epic battle between humans and aliens continues. Seven months have passed since viewers last saw the survivors of the 2nd Mass, led by Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), and now that they’ve teamed up with Volm and a band of rebel Skitters, the human race looks like it just might have some hope. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the show also stars Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Drew Roy, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Sarah Carter, Colin Cunningham and Seychelle Gabriel, along with Doug Jones, Gloria Reuben and Robert Sean Leonard.
While at the show’s press day, co-stars Noah Wyle (who is also one of the show’s producers) and Drew Roy talked about all of the changes in Season 3, how much easier it is to not always have to be on the move now, love triangles, and what all of the new characters have brought to the story. Check out what they had to say, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
NOAH WYLE: Well, we took a lot of big dramatic risks, at the beginning of this season, especially from where we left the character, at the end of last season. We had a seven month time jump this season, we had the character go from not wanting any additional responsibilities to suddenly becoming the President of the United States, we had the baby, my son was infected with an eye worm, and we have an alliance with another race of alien beings. There’s a lot to wrap your mind around, very quickly, as the season unfolds. In a lot of ways, this is our best season, but it was the one we had to work the hardest at because it required a lot of diligence and attention to detail because we had to make sure these huge dramatic narratives were going to mete themselves out appropriately, over the course of the season, and each culminate and peak, at the right time. I think we modulated it very well. I’m very proud of this season.
As your leadership role grows on the show, do you find yourself taking on that role on set, as well?
WYLE: I hope so. The thing that drew me to this particular show was the fact that it scared me so much. It glaringly held a mirror up to everything I considered a shortcoming. I don’t think of myself as a dynamic action actor. I was very comfortable working in the body of an ensemble, and I was very nervous about leading one. And I was very nervous about promoting myself as the big head on the poster, and the guy who saves the day. That’s not really my nature. So, I’m hoping that it’s coming across that, as I’ve grown into the learning curve of leadership and power, so has Tom Mason. What’s kept it grounded in a sense of truth is that I’m figuring it out when he is.
DREW ROY: Just being on set with him having that kind of humility, it really does work the absolute best way that it possibly could. He sets a very high standard on set, so we never show up and don’t know our lines. Between Noah and Will [Patton] and Moon [Bloodgood], they drop little hints, here and there, that as a younger actor, make you think, “Oh, that’s a completely different way to think about that.”
ROY: Oh, it was a ton of fun. I can’t complain, and I’m not complaining, that I’m the guy who makes out with all the girls. It was fantastic to be able to try something different. It was basically like getting a whole new character. It really was. We’re finding Hal in the lowest of his lows, and what better way to attack that than with somebody who is just as confident as can be. Playing that battle, back and forth, it was challenging in all the best ways. And Noah has been a huge help in helping me carve out the small nuances in that character.
How challenging was that mirror scene?
ROY: I was afraid when I read that mirror scene.
WYLE: I read that and I went, “Oh, fuck, this is a mistake. I don’t know anybody who can pull this off.” And then, I saw the dailies and I went, “How the hell did he do it?” He pulled it off. It seemed like the biggest actor trap in the world, that anybody that had any experience would have steered clear of. And yet, to Drew’s credit, he really delivers this season. In a lot of ways, his character disappeared in Season 2, and Connor Jessup’s character came to the forefront. We really tried to flip that, this season, and Drew really stepped up and was a pleasure to work with.
WYLE: It’s like cramming for a test. I enjoy the detective work. I enjoy reading. That’s one of the things I like best about my job. But, it’s really that I need to know it on this day, so I make sure I know it on that day. Maybe it stays, maybe it doesn’t. Some stuff, you remember. I could theoretically do a thoracotomy, but I wouldn’t want to. This is a show that I’m so glad we don’t shoot in Los Angeles. If we were all going home to our own apartments and beds, and answering phone calls and paying our bills, it would be really difficult to maintain this insular structure. But, the fact that we’re all sequestered on location, out of our comfort zone and away from all of these distractions, really helps a lot. Will Patton loves reading military history, and I do, too. Most of our conversations have to do with talking about military history because it’s important for the characters and it’s something we both have an interest in. But then, I saw Will a couple months ago and the last thing we talked about was military history. So, it’s really specific to the work environment.
Has it been easier this season, to not always be on the move?
WYLE: It’s certainly easier from a production standpoint. This was the first season that we had any standing sets on a soundstage. Given the fact that we shoot in Vancouver during winter, it’s really nice to have a set to go to, if you need it, out of necessity. Although we shoot in the elements a lot and aren’t really deterred by weather.
WYLE: Yeah, we shoot in any kind of weather. In the first season, we occupied this high school for five or six episodes, and I really felt that that didn’t work. As soon as this group got stationary, all the tension dissipated. You wanted to feel that they were being chased and hounded, at every turn. So, this notion of landing in Charleston and staying in Charleston, I was a little bit nervous about how it was going to come off. But, it works to the extent that we use it as a base and we leave it frequently, to go out on these little missions. As long as an aspect of this show is traveling, and they’re out and away from their comfort zone, it’s still effective storytelling. The key is to make sure that dramatically we’re not losing anything by keeping the group stationary.
Drew, how has it been to have Hal torn between both Karen (Jessy Schram) and Maggie (Sarah Carter), this season?
ROY: Now that Karen is full evil, it’s tough. But, I always play the relationship between Hal and Karen, even back in the first season, as though she was the first girl that Hal had fallen hard in love with. That happened because they were on these missions together and they literally had each other’s backs. The fact that she was taken from him, right in front of his eyes, he’s always felt this huge amount of guilt about her being taken by the aliens.
For her to rise through the ranks is just an ever-present reminder of that day that she was taken from him. I also had to find a good reason for how this human could rise that high through the ranks and be the top representative for the aliens. I had a little trouble grasping the fact that she is in that position and still has a thing for Hal. So, to have that make sense to me, I always felt like there was still a little part of her that, if we could get it back, especially with the Volm technology, that maybe we could fully get her back.
That was always the drive to not completely shut that off. Hal has Maggie, but that relationship has almost turned into an old couple’s relationship, where she is literally taking care of me. We just skipped the whole honeymoon phase, which is good for her because she has a hard time with closeness, especially after all of the things that happened when she was with Pope’s gang. It works for our relationship, but it’s not that first love that Hal had with Karen. So, now that she’s pulling Hal, even though everything looks bad, there’s still an intrigue there. I think that helps bounce Hal back and forth.
You already had such a great cast, but what do Gloria Reuben, Robert Sean Leonard, Stephen Collins and Doug Jones bring to this season?
WYLE: Doug Jones is fantastic. Doug Jones made all the difference in the world. Initially, we were going to pull the trigger on that character, but it was going to be all CG, working with a tennis ball on a stick. And then, we were going to hire an extra to stand there, so that the eye line was correct. And that, they took it a step further and found Doug. I don’t know how he did it, but in a full mask and body suit, he conveys emotion and humor. With the slightest tilt of his head, he conveys really rich character detail. We took something that could have been corny and made it something really fantastic, and it’s really a credit to him and his talents.
And then, Gloria, Bob and Stephen were part of a concerted effort to bring in really high-caliber actors to help facilitate the storytelling and help reveal more aspects of our characters. It was self-serving in the way that Gloria and I are old friends, and Bob and I are old friends, and working with old friends is always fun. But, I’m really pleased with the way their characters turned out. It just helps when you can promote somebody of their caliber to come up on the show, and then they deliver with their performance. It’s a one-two punch.
Falling Skies airs on Sunday nights on TNT.