We had the pleasure of doing an interview with Colin Cunningham who plays Pope on TNT’s Falling Skies. Colin has a long history in scifi and I first saw him in Stargate SG 1. He is a talented actor with an attitude all his own and we all love it.
Tell is a little about your character Pope and how we find him at the start of Falling Skies?
Pope is a very interesting guy. He’s fearless, but has some how liberated himself from any kind of baggage. He’s not fearless because of any kind of bravado, but because he believes he’s already dead. Meaning, he doesn’t see any way to win the war, but he’s quite happy to take the battle straight to the aliens. He knows he’s going to die, but refuses to do it on the run. Pope will pick his own time to go, on his own terms. Interestingly though, it’s always right now. He has nothing to lose.
Pope seems to be a character who you can never tell whether he is on your side or his own side. A character like this who seems to choose that 3rd option: Its me for myself. How do you get in the mood to play pope? Do you channel a particular character or listen to a certain song?
Pope doesn’t have the baggage that the other characters do. He’s in love with no one. Has no children to protect. And finds most people to be a hinderance. The invasion has been a real ‘inconvenience’ for Pope. A pain in the ass. But, he has one hell of a sense of humor and is quite surprised at how much he appreciates the mind of Tom Mason.
How did you come up with Popes look? I understand that you came into your audition dressed the way we see pope.
Don’t want to come off sounding arrogant. But a lot of actors out there bore the living snot out of me. I show up to these auditions and I see the same guys, with the same hair, wearing the same suit, spitting out the same dialogue in the same way. Me? If I get an audition for a lawyer? I’ll pull my eyes back with scotch tape and play a lawyer from Taiwan. It’s pissed off a lot of Casting Directors along the way, but I always figured, f’ck em. This is what I do. If you don’t like it, hire someone else.
Why you do you think we saw an act of kindness from Pope, when he fought to protect Hal and the kids? What drove your character to that?
Pope despises anyone that mess’s with kids. Let alone traitors that get into ‘bed with the Skitters’. Pope himself has kids. Hurting kids is strictly off limits. That, and the bastards beat the location (of the 2nd Mass) out of him. He owed them that.
Do we learn more about what is going on between Pope and Maggie?
That’s probably one of the only story lines I’d really like to see explored. She despises him. And yet, he’s solely responsible for saving her life. It’s my favorite relationship on the show.
As an actor, how do you teach yourself to react to certain things that arnt there? For example mechs, aliens or skitters when they are just a stick and a ball?
Great question. In fact, all of these are great questions. I’ve probably answered a thousand of these things. This interview is by far my favorite. Anyway, it’s a tough question. And it involves so many other people. The director especially. They are there to guide you. Hard to explain here, because when you’re ‘doing it’, you’re not even there anymore to remember.
Popes one liners are famous and unforgettable, are most of those lines pre written or is there some adlibbing that took place?
In a scene with Maggie, I called her a ‘Little Miss Midwife with the heart of gold.” I did that, because the lines already written left her off the hook, and I thought ‘No f’ing way.’ You are NOT Mother Theresa. You have an agenda as well, and I’m NOT buying it. Maggie is too goddamned smart and tough. She’s way too independent. And so, I added that line. Mark V. was there and gave me his blessing. It was something ‘I’ needed, and they were secure enough in what they do, to let me do the same.
What is your favorite “Pope-ism” so far?
The one to come. I’m just waiting for an opportunity to ad lib, “I’m John Pope. Not Pope John.”
Last week we saw Pope and Matt Mason get together to help solve a problem. Do you think that deep down Pope misses his kids and took to Matt as a result?
Not really a question for me. That’s for Pope and Pope alone.
Where would you like to see your character go as we push into season 2 and as you so greatly put it at the paley panel “into season 7”?
Invent a robotic dog. So that it can pee on the Mechs and rust them out before they can hurt the 2nd Mass.
Do you think you personally relate to your character or which character do you think you would be most like if this invasion had really happen?
I think I’m much more like Tom Mason. I think we all are. It’s why his character is the moral compass. But, you can definitely put a bit of Weaver in me as well. Tough call.
What is your favorite episode so far?
Pope’s intro to the show. Without question. Noah was brilliant in that episode by the way. It takes a VERY good actor to do what he did.
Fan Question: Does pope have a middle name?
Will Falling Skies be coming to Dragon Con Labor Day weekend in Atlanta?
Haven’t been invited yet. Hope so. Hello Atlanta!!
I have been a fan of yours since Stargate and now we see the show is moving back to Vancouver. Will it be nice for you to be back in familiar territory?
Yes and No. I love Vancouver. But with all the hope and change taking root down south, more and people are leaving the states than ever before. It’s insane, but I’m so very happy for my Canadian brothers and sisters. They get yet another shot to being a part of one incredible show!
Thank you Colin for the interview and this has been as much fun for us as it was for you. Thank you again for answering all our questions and we look forward to more from Colin soon!