Drew Roy talks aliens, Pope, guest stars, and much more for Falling Skies Season 3, debuting Sunday, June 9 at 9 PM ET on TNT
Throughout the first two seasons of TNT's hit sci-fi drama series Falling Skies, Drew Roy's Hal Mason, the son of Noah Wyle's Tom Mason, has established himself as a fighter who always has the 2nd Mass' back. That all may change in Season 3, debuting with the two-hour premiere "On Thin Ice" and "Collateral Damage" Sunday, June 9 at 9 PM ET on TNT. As you may recall in the Season 2 finale, Hal had a strange encounter with alien convert Karen (Jessy Schram), and his peculiar behavior in the premiere raises a lot of questions for the rest of the season. In Season 3, set seven months after the last season, Hal's dad Tom is now the "President" in the new nation's capitol, Charleston. I recently had the chance to sit down with this talented young actor to discuss these upcoming episodes, Hal's stint in a wheelchair, guest stars, and much more. Here's what he had to say.
Like the first two seasons, Season 3 spans 10 episodes. Are you getting to the point where you're comfortable with that, or would you like to see it expand? I know that might be asking a lot, with all the effects that need to be done, but do you feel it's paced well at 10, or is there still more you'd like to tell after 10?
Drew Roy: You know, I think we could very easily do more than 10, and still have a nice pace and not have filler episodes. I feel when you shoot 22 or 24, that's an endeavor. Working with Noah, and him talking about ER and those days, he says in those shows, they would shoot in seven-episode blocks. You would know for about seven episodes what your character is doing, but the next chunk, it could take a turn you didn't see coming. With us, they can, to some degree, map out what you're going to do for the season, which, as an actor, is nice to be able to build those arcs for yourself. Personally, I'd love to do 12 or 13 or whatever, but 10 has been fantastic.
There are a lot of the TNT shows that do have more, between 10 and 15, but they don't get up into the 20s. Especially with cable, 13 or 15 episodes seem to be where a lot of people are comfortable at.
Drew Roy: And, what shows do you love these days? I love the stuff AMC is doing, HBO, basically all of cable has these smaller, condensed seasons, and it's very cinematic. Just with the nature of being on cable, you can tell a grittier story. I'm pretty happy with where we are.
Noah was saying earlier that Hal is a bit off on his own this year. When you came into this season, were you surprised at the places that Hal's going?
Drew Roy: When we shot that final scene in the second season, when the bug goes into my ear, we literally had no idea what that was going to look like, in the next season. We knew it was going to involve aliens, but we didn't know what was going on. When we were down at Comic-Con, Remi Aubuchon, our head writer and showrunner, took me aside after the panel and said, 'Hey, I've got this idea about what's going to happen. You're going to be in a wheelchair.' I was like, 'OK, for how long? (Laughs) Hal's the action guy.' He's like, 'No, no, it will be a couple of episodes.' Then he told me the mythology behind it, and what was going to be going on, and I was incredibly excited. Hal has always been the action guy, the guy who gets the girl, a very confident guy. Now, we're getting to see a whole different side that's fragile and broken. He has doubts now, and the more this ear bug starts working on him, the more he's pulled into a whole different personality, which, as an actor, was just the most fun to play.
We also saw that Stephen Collins is going to be playing the President of the United States before the invasion. Did you have any scenes with him?
Drew Roy: I did not have any scenes with him. Those were all shot at a different location, but now, I'm basically one of the "First Kids," my dad is the President, even though it's just 20 square blocks. I loved how Noah explains it. He says he's not doing it to be the President, but to be that figure people can look to, to feel more secure. With Tom as President, that's allowing all the kids to sort of drift off and fall into their own traps and problems, and that's how Hal ends up so far into the deep end.
I was also curious what kind of role the Berserkers play this year. They have this whole little colony set up.
Drew Roy: Yeah, there's a place in Charleston called "Popetown." It's an abandoned, destructed building, and Pope (Colin Cunningham) has taken these beautiful pieces of art and put them up on the walls, but it's still just as beat up as could be, and it's this saloon. It was one of the coolest sets we have ever had, and we actually wanted to have the season wrap party in there, but, because of different codes and whatnot, we couldn't. But, the Berserkers, with Pope being the leader, he's always going to be the guy who shoots the truth. He has no family to worry about, he has no conscious to worry about, he just shoots it black-and-white. That's a nice play for Tom Mason to have to bounce off of, because those characters hate each other so much, but I'm sure there are many times where Tom wishes he could see it as black and white, and he didn't have to take into account all of Charleston. There is a great episode, the fifth hour, where the two of them really have to hash it out.
I've always found Pope so interesting, because he's this distant guy, but he's always right there too. He has some desire to be a part of the system, and push against it at the same time. Do you ever see him being just strictly on his own?
Drew Roy: He does sort of pull himself out, and what was the medical bus last year is where he lives. He has flags draped around, beer bottles on the floor. He has what looks like real money all over the floor, because it has no value anymore. He is much happier being by himself, pretending like he wants nothing to do with any of Charleston, but, at the same time, if he actually had the option, he never leaves. He likes the position he's in, and it causes some good drama for us.
As far as the action, has that process evolved a lot, how you guys shoot these big battle scenes?
Drew Roy: When we shot the pilot, and we did that opening sequence where we run down the street and we had to run in the other direction, the first time we saw the mech unleashing its fury, we dive into the barricade and the whole thing blows up, I thought that was the coolest thing I have ever done. Throughout these three seasons, it's just been that week after week after week. If anything has changed, I would say we feel a little more comfortable doing that, but these are real explosives, it's all controlled, but it just gets your blood flowing, and it's extremely fun. If anything has changed, it is our confidence, which could be bad, because you may be doing things that you're a little too comfortable doing. The opening sequence this year, when I'm on top of the Hummer and shooting two 50-caliber machine guns, and there's just the largest explosions going on around me, extras getting shot left and right, that was pretty fantastic (Laughs).
Drew Roy: Well, the new Volm pose all sorts of interesting problems, and solutions. He looks like he has these kind eyes, and you almost feel this sort of grandfatherly wisdom from the Volm. They've accelerated what we can do, medically, where we're able to take the harnesses off now. With weaponry, we have things that can push back the skitters and live above ground in Charleston, and when the beamers fly by, we can take them down. That's all great, but is it too great? Is it too easy? Are we being bribed? We don't know. Weaver (Will Patton) is there to pose that question. He has trouble with trusting any alien. He likes to say, 'This is our war. We have to fight this themselves.' Tom can easily see that point, but at the same time, we're getting so much good out of it, that it's hard to push that away. Then Hal's over there trying to figure out his own thing, so he could care less.
As far as you personally, as an actor, is there anyone in particular you'd like to see come on as a guest star or a recurring character, that you'd love to see as a part of this crazy world?
Drew Roy: There are tons of them, but I don't see them coming on this show. I've always loved Giovanni Ribisi, so if we could get Giovanni on the show. Giovanni, you call me. I'll tell you how great it is. I just love the fact that he's such a chameleon. He can be anything. There could literally be any character written, and he could play it, women included (Laughs).
That's my time. Thank you so much, Drew.
Drew Roy: Thank you.