Connor Jessup is not your normal teenager. Having just turned 18 Connor has a healthy list of accomplishments under his belt in acting, directing and producing. Connor will be appearing in a new indie feature Blackbird, in which he plays an angry and troubled teenage boy who is wrongfully accused and arrested for a crime he did not commit. He ends up in juvenile detention where he quickly realizes the changes he will need to make if he wants to survive.
Besides being taken by aliens and harnessed in Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies, Jessup also produced his first indie film, which is making its rounds at film festivals. His producing credits include the independent film Amy George, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Wisconsin International Film Festival last year. The independent film, shot in the summer of 2010, follows a thirteen-year-old boy’s quest to become an artist, whose dreams are halted because he believes his mundane life has left him unprepared to make his dream a reality. After reading a book on what it takes to become a true artist, this seemingly unlikable boy finds himself in a life of risk, ecstasy, wilderness, and women.
Jessup recently completed the short film Something, which he wrote, directed, produced, and edited. Something follows 10 year old Jack as he struggles to find beauty in life after he survives the collapse of the human existence. He also wrote, directed, and produced the short film, I Don’t Hurt Anymore!, in addition to the play Pushing Normal, in which he received the ‘Award of Distinction’ for the script at the 2010 Sears Drama Festival.
Season 1 look back at Ben
During season 1 Ben was still in the hands of the aliens but was saved by his brother Hal and the harness removed. We soon learned that although the harness was removed, the effects it had on him were not over. Not only can Ben still hear the aliens, he gained super human strength and agility. At the end of season 1 the aliens gave Tom a choice, either come with them or they would take Ben back. They promised to help Tom save Ben, but that was a lie.
Season 2 and Stunts
3 episodes have aired for season 2 and Ben is not the same kid anymore. Connor admits he is not the most athletic person but during the summer was told by director Greg Beeman he need to bulk up for his role in season 2. Connor jumped right to work and got himself ready for season 2. The stunts that were done in the first 2 episodes of the season were not easy and Connor stepped up to the plate.
The most difficult of these scenes was Bens swim in the river to the other side. Filming for this scene was done during the winter months in Vancouver and the water was near freezing. He was told from the start of the season that he’s got ‘skitter blood’. So while the rest of the cast gets to wear heavy jackets, he has to wear a t-shirt. He did wear a wet suit under the shirt but it was barely enough. Half way through Greg could tell he was about to pass out and began yelling commands on where to go and what to do. They got it in one shot and Connor had a hot tub of sorts to jump into to prevent hypothermia but it was very little help. But wow is that dedication.
Interview with Connor on Season 2 and Ben (*Spoilers*)
Trust is a major story plot in season 2. Toms return is suspect at best and everyone in the 2nd mass has very little trust of Ben. Jimmys death results in a lot more distrust of Ben and at the same time mixed emotions for Ben. What did you think of the direction emotionally the writers took with Ben?
Its fascinating, I never expected it. Last season Ben was a very different character. He was young, nieve, innocent and he was a civilian. He was a very different person. And this season he is colder and more distant, and violent. He is fearful of what is happening to him and that fear is building anger in him. Up until he shot his dad and got Jimmy killed, there were never any real consequences for his actions. Now he has regret and worry in his mind.
Jimmy was Bens best and seemingly only true friend he had. And with his death Ben is further isolated from those around him and also has extreme remorse over what happens, blaming himself. Does this result in an emotional and physical isolation of Ben moving forward?
I don’t want to spoil anything but I think it could do one of 2 things: It could do what you said and ostracize him from the 2nd mass and push him away. At the same time it could be a wake up call for Ben. A stark example of what can happen from his actions and change the way he thinks about a lot. Or both of those things could happen at the same time. I can say that Jimmys death is a major catalyst for what Ben does and who Ben is moving forward in the season.
Ben and the red-eyed skitter have a connection. One that Ben is just as shocked about as we were. What can you tell us about this and will it be expanded upon?
It could lead a lot of places. It is one of the more interesting elements. And it will continue through the rest of the season. Red-eye is a total mystery. We know he was on the ship with Tom and that he is following the 2nd mass. We also know he has a keen interest in Tom and I. We don’t know what his intentions are, or his motivations for what he is doing to Ben. Ben ties directly into his story line and I can say in the next 2-3 episodes we will learn some major revolutions about red-eye and Ben. Many layers of that onion will be pulled back and things will end up looking very different then you might think they would.
Hal and Ben have a tension filled relationship right now. What was it like playing with this more in your face dynamic?
That relationship was a lot of fun. Drew, who plays Hal, is a really cool guy and a great actor. My scenes with him this year were some of my most enjoyable. I enjoy doing those scenes with him. I enjoy the dynamic of tension and misunderstanding and confusion. But also at the core of it, a brotherly affection. We are not that different. What is most interesting about this dynamic is Ben this season is not all that dis-similar to how Hal was last season: Ive taken over the roll of the bull-headed, stubborn, violent one. So I think there are a lot of parallels between Bens interactions with Hal this year, and Toms interactions with Hal last year.
We have interviewed the concept artist who helped design the harness and know the writers had intended an aquatic approach to the aliens. In next weeks episode we see harnesses in a tank with water/fluid in it. What can you tell us about this mythology?
I cannot really comment on that, the writers have in their minds where the mythology will go even beyond what us as cast know and what I do know I cannot say. That would really be a question for Remi or Greg because the mythology in their mind goes far beyond what you’ve seen or what I’ve seen. In their mind it continues far beyond this season.
I think we may be on to something here, this question took some time before a reply but hey we will sit back and wait to see how this one unfolds.
In some recent previews, its apparent that Karen and Ben have some scenes together. What can you tell us about these?
Whats so interesting about Karen, is that she is tied so intricately to Hal. Drew always says she was his first love. But there is a relation, as you said, between Ben and Karen because she is now in the exact situation Ben was in not that long ago. Any person who was harnessed has a connection with one another. If Karen happen to come back, I think that is an element we would have to address. Karen as a person is nice, but now she’s not so nice. They have taken this innocent likable person and turned her into the voice of Saron, you know they have turned her into the voice of evil. And its difficult for Ben because that plays into his fears of what might be happening to him. Or even Toms fears of what might be happening to him. So if Karen were to come back, it would be instrumental in a lot of characters lives.
Falling Skies is returning to Comic Con this year, and you are now on the panel. Is this your first time going?
Yes this is my first year going. Ive always admired Comic Con from afar. Ive always longed to go to Comic Con. Falling Skies has gone 2 years now and what I’ve heard from my castmates is that it was amazing. Its like a geeks paradise and I’m very very excited about going and being on the panel. I plan on making my rounds on the convention and letting my nerdy-ness come out.
We will be right there with you Connor. This will be our first time going as well and it should be a blast. We hope to run into some of the cast during our visit to the convention. We will also be doing our best to get into the panel and cover all the behind the scenes extras for the show.
During our Vancouver set visit, you expressed your admiration for Will Patton. What was it like finally having a 1 on 1 scene with him after Jimmy’s funeral?
Last season I really didn’t get any scenes with Will Patton. There were a few scenes where i was standing among people but from afar. And this season I did get a few chances to work one on one with him. He is so good. Not only is he such a good and experienced actor, he is a really professional, dedicated, good guy. I grew up watching many of the movies he was in. There is no one on the show who cares more then Will does. Acting with someone like that brings out the best in you. He is always on his A-Game and that forces you to be on your A-Game as well.
Keep an eye out on this one, he has some amazing talent in front of and behind the camera.