I can’t contain my excitement for TNT’s upcoming alien apocalypse series, Falling Skies. Perhaps that’s why I was thrilled to be a part of a recent conference call with Falling Skies’ leading man, Noah Wyle. Noah plays Tom in the show, a former history professor who’s now helping to command the resistance against the alien army. That sounds all well and good, but on top of that, one of his three sons has been taken by the enemy, and Tom’s doing all he can to get him back.
Take a look below that highlights of the call, including my back-and-forth with the man himself. And, of course, check out the TNT on Sunday, June 19, at 9 pm for a special two-hour premiere event.
So, between all the guns and the historic references you have to say because, you know, Tom was a professor before all of this happened, how much did you really have to learn before shooting this show?
Well, I’m kind of a history buff to begin with. So it was no hardship to read American History books. That’s, sort of, my nightstand reading anyway. And I kind of enjoyed the detective aspect of my work more than just about any other. I like doing research whether it’s applicable or necessary.
It’s, sort of, fun for me to have an ongoing license to continue my education in just about any (sphere) that the job demands. And in terms of the guns, I’ve shot guns before in my life but nothing quite like this. So, yes there was a few – about a week of gun handling and gun safety instructions and, sort, of running around sound stations in loose formations (and so) that kind of thing.
And was working with so much CGI and so many things that – you know, things like puppeteers and things like that, was that particularly new and different for you to be working with? And was that a challenge?
I’ve done a little CGI stuff before. The Librarian movies have a bit of it. But this is leaps and bounds beyond anything I had been – I had done before. It presents all sorts of challenges, the biggest of which is really getting five or six people who are all in the same scene to be looking at the same thing that’s not there and reacting with a certain line of continuity.
You don’t want to be looking at something that’s terrifying and be playing – and play terror only to find out that the other five guys standing next to you are being very stoic about it. So, you kind of get on the same page about, you know, what it all means and what the stakes are and how to, sort of, present a united front. But it’s a skill. It’s a muscle that, you know, the more you exercise it the better off you get.
You feel really, really, really, really silly when you’re doing it, reacting to something that’s not there. But after it gets all cut together and they actually put in the spaceships and the aliens, it all works pretty well.
You guys started working on this pilot a good couple years ago. How does it feel to finally have it come on the air this summer?
It feels like the longest pregnancy in television history. And I can’t wait to get the baby out of me. That’s what it feels like.
And do you have anything special planned on premiere night?
I don’t know where I’m going to be. I’m going to be doing a bit of a promo tour. I’m going to several American cities and then London, Madrid and Munich, where it’s going to debut on or around the same night. So, I’ll be mid-travel someplace I’m sure.
[More from Noah Wyle after the break!]
On why he is a part of this show:
Well, it was a combination of things, really. It was, you know, the right script at the right time right when I was getting the itch to get back to work. It was a chance to work again with TNT who I’ve built up a really wonderful relationship over the last couple years doing these Librarian movies.
It was a chance to work again for Mr. Spielberg, who was one of the Executive Producers on ER. And it was a new genre and totally different character. And it seemed like it presented a pretty good challenge. And I very much was looking forward to shooting ten episodes a year instead of 22 or 24.
On the hardest part about filming:
It was all fairly difficult…It was no studio work at all. Most of it took place at night. So it was very long days and nights, mostly in inclement weather.
And it was probably the most physically taxing job I’ve ever done. There’s a lot of running and jumping and rolling and diving and things of that nature. So, yes, I came out the other end of it pretty well bruised and banged up but happy.
On his character, Tom:
I think he’s got a pretty strong will and ethical center. But I think in the beginning part of the season, it’s very easy to second guess decisions that are being made at the top level by Will Patton’s character, Captain Weaver, and play Monday morning quarterback. And it eventually – once he, sort of, accepts the mantel of responsibility and leadership, he sees that that really entails making a lot of proverbial Sophie’s Choices.
And that ethical center does get rocked a bit. It really isn’t so much a question of him redefining himself as a bad man so much as it is letting the mask slip and showing the extent of his grief and loss and what the toll has been – has taken on him. And there’s – we get glimpses and windows of that periodically through the course of the season as he tries to keep it all together.
On Tom’s oldest son and fatherhood:
The auric is really about a kid trying to cut the paternal tie and establish himself in his own right as a man and as a fighter. And that’s a pretty rich storyline that goes throughout the course of the season, culminating in the end with the tie being cut officially and him breaking away from his father against his father’s wishes.
But it raises all sorts of interesting ethical questions about what the kinder choices as a father, whether it’s more valuable to try and shield and seclude your kids from the reality and let them have some semblance of a childhood or whether that’s (a) – putting them at a huge disadvantage and he’s better off arming them and training them in the hopes that they’ll survive and that their kid’s kids will have the childhood that they were robbed of.
On his previous sci-fi experience:
My experience has all been as an audience member. This is the first time I’ve delved into the genre. But I’ve very quickly learned with it – what you just said is true that it’s a skeptical audience at first.
It feels like it’s been wounded and disappointed by other shows that have either been cancelled prematurely or that have gone off the rails and not kept a line of continuity. But if you do win them over and pay them the respect that they deserve since they’re paying such close attention to detail, they become the most loyal following you could possibly hope for.
On pressure and expectations:
Well, at this point all we can do is, kind of, let it fly. The season has been shot. It’s in the can. It’s ready for viewing. And it will only be determined by audience response whether or not we go back to work for a second season.
So, no, I don’t particularly feel pressure. I’m – you know, TNT is taking a huge gamble on this show. It’s stylistically and thematically a huge departure for them. And they’ve invested quite a bit of money in its production and the marketing of it. So I really want to make good for them because they’ve been fantastic partners in this venture.
But the actor’s life is a bit like a shark’s life. You, kind of, have to just swim forward and not look back and go on to the next one and hope for the best.
Why people should tune in:
You know, this is, I think, a show that pretty successfully walks a very fine line between being science fiction, action adventure show and a pretty straight up human character drama. So, while the science fiction audience is a new audience for TNT, they certainly have a built in drama audience that I think will be very satisfied by seeing this. And then I think, you know, people that enjoy science fiction and alien invasion type fare will be also equally satisfied.
Don’t forget to catch the premiere of Falling Skies on Sunday, June 19.And if you’re in Boston, don’t forget about this opportunity to catch it early — on the big screen!
Want to read more about Falling Skies? Check out this interview with executive producer Mark Verheiden and keep an eye out on Raked for more!
*images courtesy of TNT