We sat down with Peter Shinkoda who plays Dai on the TNT/Dreamworks show Falling Skies.
For over twenty years, Peter Shinkoda has been active as an actor in film and television with an impressive list of credits, including appearances in “The Dead Zone,” “Paycheck,” “Andromeda,” “Supernatural,” “Stargate SG-1,” “Dark Angel” and “I, Robot.”
Let’s start with a little bit about your history getting into acting. We know you started out doing Civil Engineering in Ontario and post-production for film at UCLA. What made you decide to refocus into acting?
There was no refocusing. I just felt that it was a good way to stay kind of attached to the filmmaking process and if I weren’t finding any success in the acting at least I would have some kind of technical savvy that I could bring to the table. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do any; I absolutely want to, it was a good default in case I didn’t succeed in the acting. At least I could be involved in the filmmaking process and possibly write, direct, edit, so I wanted to keep my foot in the door.
With post-production, what’s involved with that?
There’s principal photography. What are you left with? A bunch of media; you’ve got the picture and the track, so post-production is all-encompassing. You’re dealing with tweaking all the dialogue, sounds, sound production, sound design, as well as dealing with the picture. What I dealt with, I worked in post-production in the editing capacity. I’d work on different teams of editors and these teams can go from three editors and assistant editors or apprentice editors all the way up to twenty-five. Something like The Matrix had twenty-five editors. You’ve got visual effects editors; you’ve got people who are synching and popping track or writing camera reports, so it all depends. What I was involved in was, at first I was an apprentice in coding. I would actually take these really menial jobs. You’d take film and you’d run the little machine and you could actually stamp little codes on them, but also I’d be at the spools; at the editing table with a big synchronizer in the middle and I’d have the film and I’d have picture and track and something called slug – that’s like the empty space where sounds supposed to be – and I’d be dealing with that and also I’d be putting in leaders. Leaders are when you see the numbers at the beginning – five, four, three, two – pop in there. I’d be doing all that kind of stuff, so literally I’d be syncing film to track to create dailies for the executives to watch and then that would get digitized. I would have to do that sometimes: digitize, put it into the avid system, so that on the monitors the creative head editor – who gets the credit usually on the marquee posters – he gets to creatively cut, and sometimes, or most of the time, that room where he cuts is in a separate room from where the assistant editors are thinking up the dailies, so I would never creatively cut. That would be the next step. You evolved to that if you were good and stuck with the program, but I never creatively cut. I was an assistant editor so I would deal with all the footage and the track that would be eventually passed on to him, so that he could edit the movie.
It’s really amazing when people start to fully understand how much goes into any kind of movie or film or TV show – the behind-the-scenes stuff – and I think it helps them appreciate more why sometimes they have to wait a long time like they do for season two of Falling Skies, because there is so much work that has to be done after just the basic shooting of the scenes.
Exactly. Exactly, and something like this, it’s progressive, this show. There’s so much that we’re putting out there to the viewing public and they don’t understand that technically it’s almost as difficult as a feature film. Look at the length of a season, that’s ten hours. There is so much that goes into that, and really the bulk of the post-production is really the visual effects. They can have the director’s first cut of the film, but then you’ve got to add in the sound design, you’ve got to score it, you’ve got to re-edit and re-edit and then you lock the picture. Then the order of the visual effects shots come in from out of house and then you’ve got to cut those in, and once there is a final product then they’ve got to do months of market research. So they’ll screen it for hundreds of people and they’ll keep tweaking and tweaking, getting better and finally coming to the broadcast product. So, yeah, especially with this show, I know people are eager to see it, but there’s no way to get around the length of the post-production.
You’re no stranger to TV or film, you’ve been on The Dead Zone, Paycheck, Supernatural, Stargate, I-Robot. What was your first reaction when you saw the script for the show come across the table and was produced by Steven Spielberg?
Well, it never came to me like that. It came to me in little pieces. The first time I became aware of it was maybe not even a week before we started shooting and that came to me in two pages of signs. As you know Dai doesn’t have monologues, so I had a scene where I had to do some recon and it just seemed like a kind of action-oriented, sci-fi kind of film. I knew there was some kind of creature in the scene that I was doing recon on and that was it. It was very simple. In the scene I had to check out this safe-way type of grocery store and then report back to Tom Mason, Noah Wyle’s character, so it was very simple. The thing that was exciting was that when I had to read for that and put it on tape, I was aware that it was a Steven Spielberg untitled alien invasion pilot and that’s enough, right? I didn’t need to know more. I knew that it was going to be something pretty big.
Reading this is unlike most sci-fi series or movies we’ve seen in a while. Falling Skies starts off six-months after the alien invasion, ninety percent of the population is gone, we’re watching the events unfold from the point of view of the survivors and not so much a focus on the invasion itself like thousands of other show before it. Did that change an approach; make the show more appealing to you?
Well, it did. I understood that approach because the reasoning is – I always believed – that: 1) It was TV. It was a clever way of avoiding huge finances and costs, but I also thought it was clever; we’ve seen a million times invasions of all types and they always deal with that, so I thought that became kind of stale concept and usually it involves the military and the military response. In this case, that’s all said and done. They’re decimated; they’re annihilated, so I thought it was quite interesting and quite fresh, the idea of having civilian soldiers fighting back after they’d already been pretty much overtaken and colonized, so yeah I thought it was great. Definitely.
What was your inspiration for your approach to playing Dai as a character?
I trusted that – knowing myself – that they’d made the right choice. I always felt that I was very similar to what Dai was like – except that people claim that I talk a hell of a lot – but in physical terms I thought they’d actually made the right choice, because I know a lot of Asian people but I always felt that I got a lot of physicality in me and I knew that this role demanded that so I felt that I could just slide into this role pretty easily. But once we went into production I did have sit-downs with the creator, Bob Rodat, and through him I heard all of Steven’s input. Bob Rodat had explained to me that this character is based off the silent samurai character in the Seven Samurai and of course, the American version is The Magnificent Seven. So he actually bought these shrink-wrapped, vacuum-sealed DVDs and said, “Watch them! Watch The Magnificent Seven!” And I had seen them before, but it’d been years and after seeing them I understood the idea of what they were going for: I’m the guy that saves the day a lot and doesn’t complain about it.
Dai seems like Tom’s right-hand man. He’s there at every moment, eager to help, no fear at all, ready to jump right into it, do you think that if this were to ever really happen would you react the same way in real life as Dai would?
I would. Yes. I do. I don’t even have to explain it. I would do that. I would be that guy, for sure. I don’t know if I‘d be as resilient and as effective as him, but definitely my mindset would be in the same place, for sure.
Did you have to get gun training before getting on to the show? Or did you already have that training from previous shows you worked on?
Well to tell you the truth, growing up in Montreal, Canada, we actually had a gun case in my basement, and there were a few shotguns in there, a couple of World War II rifles; and my dad was into that. I didn’t really get to touch them because there was an alarm on them. My dad, he was kind of reluctant to let me handle them, but I did go hunting with him so I knew how to handle guns from a young age. Then if you see my resume, I had done a bunch of projects where I had to use firearms, so I had that previous training, but then with the show, Falling Skies, we indeed had to. They had to walk us through the training, so we had intense training for one week before we shot the pilot. Then when we went to the first season, almost a year later, we touched on the gun training.
Did you ever get injured on the set with all of the riding of the motorcycles and the dirt bikes, and jumping around? I’d imagine that you’d probably get injured once or twice.
Yeah. Most of the actors got bumps, bruises, scrapes; I have a lot of that going on. To tell you the truth, I tried to do everything that was scripted, but they’d always have a stunt double on hand. There were a few days where they’re going, “Why am I here?” but I’m like, “Be happy. You’re getting paid.” A lot of times I would insist on it. There were a couple of scenes – you might be familiar with – when I drive in and I’m injured. I’ve got the shrapnel inside my gut. The scene, the shot that they use, there was a crane shot and I come wobbling in and that was me, but they had another shot that they had, where there was a shot of one of these cars with the camera on it and they wouldn’t let me drive right up on the bumper and start swerving. That was a shot that wasn’t used, but they had a stunt guy do that. I’m like, “I used to have a motorcycle. I know how to ride. This is easy. I’m going ten miles an hour I can swerve right and left.” But they didn’t allow me to do that and I complained for a few hours until the first AD actually started getting annoyed. She said, “Go away. You cannot do it. You understand?” She got on the walkie-talkie and said, “Peter is trying to do the stunt. He’s not going to do it. Get him back to the trailer.” It was pretty much like that. The question was about me being injured. I never really got injured. I still have some scars on my legs and stuff from jumping in and around trucks and sliding and running, but there was one incident I do remember in, I think the third hour, Prisoner of War, when Noah gets knocked unconscious when we save Rick – as opposed to Ben – where I drag him out of the battlefield, when I come in with the truck. You know, an unconscious Noah Wyle is a heavy thing. It’s just like dead meat weight and I thought I got it on the first take, but we went through five takes. When I was a teenager, maybe I could handle that. But after the third, I was like, “You know, I think we got it. I’m just dragging him…” but Greg Beeman’s like, “I want you in this shot, to look up quickly and see the mech up on the roof and then get distracted and then go back to pulling him.” We did that and I haven’t given physically 110% like I did in those takes in almost twenty years. The stakes are pretty high in the scene. The stakes are pretty high, because I’m an actor working on a Spielberg show in an action sequence, so I’m giving 110% like I’m at the state championships in some varsity sport. The thing was, I mistakenly didn’t stretch or limber up for it. I just walked into it like I was 17 again, but truly I wasn’t because after the fifth take, I think we got it and we’re moving on to the next setup, but I kind of like hauled away in between some parked cars and – the cars are all dusty and blown out – and it was in the middle of the day and it was scorching hot. I went through like eight shirts that day and I collapsed between these cars. I went down on one knee, I think Lindsey, the set medic came over to assist me, and some people witnessed it and then all of sudden people are like, “Pete, should we get a medic? Are you all right?” I’m like “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m all right.” But really I got so dizzy I almost passed out from the heat exhaustion, from the exertion of the five back-to-back takes, and what you had seen was not the whole sequence. They were shooting from me getting out of the car, getting him, dragging him quite a distance; they only used just a moment or two of it. I actually, five times, had to drag dead meat Noah Wyle into the passenger seat. I had to pull him up over the vintage kind of like passenger seat that was catching on his belt, all his gear, keep pulling and pulling him and then I have to reach over him and then close the door and then book out of there. So that all was not seen at all, right? I guess it’s suggested, but I had to walk through it in reality and it was tough. That was the closest that I got. I wasn’t injured, but I felt severely ill doing that sequence.
I’d imagine doing it five times would definitely wear you out. Connor mentioned in our interview last week that they made him do the shot from Sanctuary: Part 2 where he was running up the road to meet you two many, many times.
Yeah. I remember that day vividly, because that day I hadn’t worked for two/three days and I came in, maybe, just before lunch, and we went to the set and we were in some conservatory area or some provincial park or something. When I got down to set, all I had to do was ride up maybe ten times through the woods with Noah and hit our marks and I had to say my line and I was out of there maybe in like an hour and a half. When I got there the first half hour before our setup when we arrive on the bikes, we saw them doing that shot where Connor is running. And he had to run I’m thinking maybe 300/400 yards over and over and over. They were tracking his running with a long lens like through the trees, and I felt sorry for the kid. I was like, “well, man, all he’s doing is running, right?” I can attest to the fact that Connor was running his little heart out, that’s for sure.
It’s amazing for people to hear what went into a five second shot could be a whole day’s worth of shooting once everything’s cut and finished and put together, and it’s pretty crazy when you hear what really has to go into making that one shot that looked perfect to you after thirty takes.
Yeah. Most people are unaware of that, but it’s also reflective of the amount of footage that is shot and what they actually use for the final product. You could be up to twenty/thirty times more that’s actually shot and covered. Then you just pick the best and then you’re left with what you’re left with. Yeah, it’s craziness.
As we push through the series, we learn some creepy things about the aliens. We see the skitter kind of sleep over the kids and pet them in a circle. We see a new kind of alien that are called the overlords, they almost look like an aquatic head but they’re a very gray, bipedal alien. What was your reaction when you guys got to see the final cut of that, because a lot of that was CGI?
The first time I saw that, it was on TV with you guys in real-time. Well actually after you, because you’re on the East coast. Three hours later, I finally got to see it. I mean, they were changing the design of that dude, the overlord, up to like, not even a week before broadcast. I had an idea. In the script it said tall, humanoid, lanky and that’s about it. They were called overlords in the script, but they’re still unnamed in the series. Who knows what they’re going to be called. I only had a kind of clue from the description on paper, but like you said, until I saw it on television, I didn’t really have a complete idea. I had an idea, but I just didn’t know until you guys saw it.
I would guess Greg Beeman would sit down with you guys and kind of discuss what some of the things were going to look like, because there are a few scenes where you have to act, looking at mechs and skitters that are not necessarily there. There were a lot of scenes where the skitter outfit was there and you did see that, but there were also a lot of scenes with the mechs that just weren’t there, so what is it that you’re staring at when you’re doing those scenes?
Well, the mech shots, and I think you know the one part in the second episode, the opening teaser when Dylan Authors or little Jimmy has to send the dog, Nemo, out there and he runs out after it. That one was at night. It was very late, but that one was a moving mech. We knew it was approaching us and shooting. That was a little bit harder to design and with our fatigue, because it was like 4:30 in the morning when we shot that. That was a little bit harder. I think that you just shoot a bunch of angles and you hope for the best. When things are in specific places and they’re static like in the season finale when a whole group of them kind of get into formation outside the barricades outside the school, in those cases they actually had poles about the height of the mech and they had a ball on top. They would place them in the first of the shots and we would just look off into the distance at those collectively as actors, so that was kind of easy. The shots when where we’re interacting with the skitter and in close quarters and there’s some dude in a suit; it’s a little bit easier. You’ve just got to ignore the fact that the guy’s in a neon-green leotard with his legs hanging out that get digitally erased afterwards. At least it’s physically there, so that might be a little bit easier for the actors to perform with, but all in all I think most of the actors, especially in this day and age, are quite prepared. Especially somebody who has a resume, there’s usually at one point somebody’s worked with this kind of material. They’ve also worked with the visual effects and green screens.
You’re very familiar with that from a lot of your past roles.
Yeah. That’s what I mean, some are more familiar with it than others, but certainly I’d seen a lot of it, and working in editing I had seen a lot of raw footage though. I’d see all that gimmickry with the spheres and tapes on walls and stuff like that, so I’d seen it, it wasn’t shocking. It wasn’t that difficult to work with as I was expecting it to be.
Now we’ve finished the first season and we didn’t get a lot of background on the Dai story. In the Dark Horse Comic they did a prequel for Falling Skies, we get a little bit more information about Dai’s story. Is that something you’d like to see explored further as we move into season two? Maybe a confrontation between Dai and Pope because I think Dai owes a little payback to Pope for what he did to him back at the bike shop.
Yeah, I’d like to see him at least address it. Following that episode, I don’t think we’ve ever been in the same room. Maybe I talk to Tom about it off-screen, I imagine, but Dai doesn’t seem like that much of an emotional guy. If he has any intention of doing anything, he probably would have kept it to himself, because he’s kind of a cool character. When the time comes, I’m sure he’s got feelings about it, and he’s got some plans, but yeah I’d like to see some kind of retribution, for sure. As far as Dai’s history, I don’t necessarily want them to delve really into my history, who my character is. That’s not really necessary, but I wouldn’t mind Dai being more – in the present terms of the story – maybe be a little bit more opinionated. That would be all right. You know, give him material that would give a lot more insight into him. That would be fine. Not necessarily having to deal with his history or circumstances of when they attacked, but he could be a little bit more interactive. That would be great.
We’d love to see more of his character. The few times that he gets to put those strong one-liners, for example Tom talking to Dai about not having any heavy ordnance and Dai throws him a stick of C-4. We’d like to see some more dialogue there, because those were some really cool scenes with you and Tom.
Yeah, well going in there, none of my lines have ever been dropped. A lot of people are going, “Jeez. You’re in that scene where you’re introduced. You don’t even talk. Did you say something? Did they cut it out?” Absolutely not, every word that I’ve said has been scripted, or lack of words has been scripted or unscripted. Everything that I do on the show had been approached exactly the way it was written on paper. He doesn’t really talk much and they scripted that, via Steven Spielberg. They’ve emphasized right from the start that this guy really is not really that sociable. He’s not antisocial, but he keeps to himself. He is absolutely a loner. I mean, I can give you an example, when Steven came to the set, he pulled me aside and goes, “You know what? This last scene that we’re shooting here: the happy ending before Maxim goes on the rip-stick.” I get out of the truck. I walk away. There’s that big celebratory scene where everybody’s eating, they’re ecstatic because they got the food. I was supposed to be gone after that, but then Steven said, “You know what? No, no, no, he’s part of the family. I’m going to set this to be,” then Steven goes, “Somebody find a bike. Somebody find a helmet. Okay, put the helmet over there.” Then they set up a dolly track and there was a camera that followed me walking away from everybody, the group, to get the helmet, inspect the helmet. Inspecting it and tracks me all the way back to him, through the crowd, and putting it on his head. That didn’t exist. In the script, Dai just went off to be by himself and we shot that a bunch of times. It was only when Steven – with Carl Franklin who directed the pilot – when he went there on the set in real-time , did that develop. And that scene came about, because of Steven Spielberg. Once Bob Rodat said, “When people eat, you’re not eating with them. Why? You’re not that guy. You just go off and you be by yourself. You’re not a talker. You’re a deliverer. You’re a man of action. You’re not a man of words and everything that you say, you mean!” So it’s minimal dialogue, but to tell you the truth, sometimes I have these crazy sound bites, you know? Where people are having these normal organic conversations and all of a sudden I come out with some badass line. It’s quite difficult, sometimes I feel like it’s so much of a hero caricature, that I get worried that people are going to think, will actually think that I am suffering from that a little bit. In my defense, he is, by design, supposed to be exactly the way – well I hope – the way I portray him, because if you’ve noticed through this conversation, I talk long.
Well, you portray him very well and the few lines where he kind of butts into an existing conversation and says something, they play in really well. The scene that comes to mind for me I believe was during Grace and you guys were sitting at the table and Dai’s talking about himself in the third person. Weaver makes a comment and Dai says, “Yes, Dai does.” That was just, it was perfect. It was a light moment for your character, but at the same time he was there as part of the group and it just played out really well.
Yeah. You see, I remember reading that, and I was going, “Wait. That’s kind of inconsistent with the fact that I don’t eat with them.” But they wrote it, we shot it, and I was like, “Okay. He does, he needs to socialize. He does feel like he’s a part, even though he’s not talking all the time.” He’s there and I was glad that it made me more fleshed out, I thought, with that scene. It was weird too, it was kind of goofy thing to shoot, but yeah, I was supposed to be just really loaded with morphine at that point, right? I hope that sold, because I think that’s the only time I cracked a smile in the whole season. I enjoyed doing that scene and hopefully people enjoyed it too.
We definitely did. What was your favorite episode to shoot overall out of all ten of them?
For a selfish actor reason, I would have to say it would be Grace, because not only did I have the most material, but I think that one was really infused with a lot of action and then again, I was in all the action, so yeah, I really enjoyed that one, like I said, from a selfish actor point of view. I worked like I think seven out of the eight-day shoot or six out of the seven-day shoot, so I was happy. I was happy. I was going to be there. I wasn’t going to have to stand around in the background. I enjoyed that one and I enjoyed the way it turned out. It was one of the most difficult action sequences at the end when the skitter climbs up in the corner and we try to escape the bike shop. Very difficult scene, and adding to the difficulty is that Noah is a fledgling at riding motorcycles; in fact he might be intimidated by them. He’d never been on a bike, ever, until maybe not even a week before, so shooting that sequence was a combination of different angles, different cameras, different stunt men. It kind of cut together pretty well, but it was very difficult. We were losing light that day, there was traffic outside the dealership so we couldn’t get them in the shot, so it turned out pretty well. I knew also, I had my reservations about the visual effects guys at Zoic. It’s difficult, that sequence, I knew all the blocking of the skitter – that wasn’t there – but what he was supposed to do. I thought it was a pretty audacious effort and they pulled it off! It looked pretty cool.
Yeah, they did. They definitely did. You guys are moving to Vancouver for season two. I’m guessing you’re kind of happy about that, you’ll be in the same time zone as LA and it won’t be such a time difference for you.
Yeah, a lot of the cast, some people are really excited about it, some are less excited about it. I’ll tell you one thing, a lot of people who have socialized or call LA their permanent homes, they like it because the flight is very short, we’re in the same time zone. There’re other actors – Sarah, Colin, myself – we’ve all lived in Vancouver. I’m very familiar with Vancouver. I’ve got so many friends there that I love, adore. Love to see them, but there’s also that part of me that yearns to see new places. Like, I’m so familiar with that place like if they said, “We’re going to go shoot in Portland.” I’d be like, “Let’s do Portland.” If they would shoot in the desert outside Albuquerque, I’d be like, “Let’s do that.” I’m all about new things. We are indeed going to Vancouver. I’m happy because I do have some family there and some of my best friends live there. It is a beautiful city, Quality oxygen, I’ll tell you that. When you step off the plane there, you breathe like you’ve never breathed before. Yeah, it’s a great place. We’re going to be there in about a month and we’re all excited about it.
We actually had an interview with Colin two weeks ago. He kind of said the same thing you did. He’s been to Vancouver a lot and he loves it, but he’d like to see new places too. I know a lot of sci-fi is shot up there on different shows. Speaking of different shows, we saw you recently as Sektor in the web-series for Mortal Kombat, which was very cool.
Did you like it?
Yes, I did. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched anything Mortal Kombat. I played the games as a kid, loved them. Sektor and Cyrex were two of my favorite characters, which made it even more fun. The martial arts moves you learned in that, is that something that you would like to see Dai possibly carry in to season two if he’s put into more of those action roles and fight scenes?
It doesn’t matter what I think. It’s not going to happen. It will never happen. There will be no martial arts. That was made very clear to me, because in the character breakdowns, when I auditioned for it, it actually said: Dai. He’s 26. He’s athletic, very capable. He’s a competent commando in the field. He’s the trusted, right-hand man, of Tom Mason. Must be athletic. Must have martial arts skills. So I go in there. I do my audition. Sometimes they actually ask you to do some moves in the room. Thankfully they didn’t, because I hadn’t stretched. You know about my stretching issue, right? I went into the room, well, I actually put it on tape, my audition, so I read for it. When I got to the set that was a concern. One of my first questions was, “when am I going to have one of these fights with the skitter? When am I going to have to kick him and do some fancy Jet Li kind of stuff?” Bob Rodat, he just smiled and, “Oh. There’s going to be none of that.” I’m like, “well in the breakdown it said that martial…” “Oh. That didn’t mean anything. I didn’t write the breakdown. It never said that in the script, but the casting might have put it in there.” He said, “You can’t get within a couple of meters of a skitter without being torn in half. They’re much stronger. There’s no roundhouse kicks or nothing. You’d be torn in half. These things, they can’t be penetrated by bullets, what’s a fancy kick going to do? No, no, no.” He scoffed at it. He laughed at it. “There’s no martial arts. No. You’re crazy. No.” and I went, “Great!” I was glad. I was very happy about that. I mean that’d be hokey.
True. I guess that makes sense for the character too. That would be kind of out of place given that the Second Mass is basically just a group of civilians for the most part, with some military personnel.
Exactly. I imagine that my character might know some martial arts, but at least up against a skitter, I’d say that’s no place, not in this show. I’ll tell you there was one script; do you know when I’m going to get knocked out by Colin, by Pope? That happened near the end just before we started shooting. Initially the script had us having a showdown against each other. Like it actually was, we were circling, like he’d come up and he’d try to hit me but I’d get up and then we’re in that back repair bit and we’re circling and we actually have a fight. There’re strikes and punches and kicks thrown and somehow he gets me into submission, he beats me. Then in the writer’s room, they said, “No. We’re not going to write it like that, because Dai is so ? He is such a hero; he’s got to be taken by surprise. Because it wouldn’t happen like that.” I think they thought it would be hokey and it’s not that kind of show. Tom or Noah would run in anyways to help me. There was one of the versions, the first version we have a standoff and we actually fight. Then all of a sudden it was mixed and it was like, he gets knocked out by a muffler. I preferred that too. I don’t mind. It might have made the scene look more badass and stuff, but it’s really not that show. I think it would have compromised the show if it had gone that way. I like the way that I get taken by surprise. That was my flaw, my weakness. I gave him a moment where I wasn’t watching him closely and that’s a Dai mistake. He can make a mistake like that, but it’s because he was trusting, that’s the trusting part of Dai. He thought that maybe we were on the same game plan, but in that moment he took advantage of me. Yeah, I was glad that we didn’t actually have any hand-to-hand combat. Maybe the fans would have liked it, but I just don’t think it fits.
You’re the first one that knows that. I haven’t told anybody about that.
Yeah it makes sense too. I agree, because if you think about even Pope’s character… Just thinking about it if Pope were to all of a sudden basically go hand-to-hand with you, it wouldn’t really match with his background or your background as characters on the show. So it made more sense for essentially an ex-convict, if you will – who Pope was – to come up behind you and use the closest muffler, if you will, to take you out.
Exactly. The more you scrutinize it, you’re doing exactly what probably happened in the writers’ room. It started to get hokier and hokier the more they analyzed it. Like if there were a fight, he would have picked up a crowbar or a muffler or something and then it would have been that kind of fight. He’s swinging a muffler and ducking and leaping, and all of a sudden it’s The Matrix or something. You can’t do that. So they kept the muffler and the knockout, but there was no showdown, because also if you started dealing with that, literally you’ve got Drew and Mpho and Noah in the other room, they would have rushed in and put a rifle in his crotch.
Right. So are there any other projects we might see you in between the filming for season two for Falling Skies and when it airs?
I don’t know. There’re a couple projects, you know high-profile projects, I’ve been met for a few times. I’m just waiting to see how that pans out, but to tell you the truth, that window to shoot between now and when we go to camera for second season is getting smaller. It’s getting bleak for that. I know I’m going to roll into the second season early October in Vancouver and there’re some projects, but they’re overlapping. They’re kind of conflicting in the scheduling. So as long as they want me and if somehow TNT Dreamworks can help, then there’s a possibility that I’ll be working on some things at the same time, but to tell you the truth, I’m committed to my heart and my contract to Falling Skies season two.
Well, we’re looking forward to it. I can tell you that for sure. We’re all a little upset about the long wait, but for those of us that truly love the series and know what goes into making any TV series, we’re willing to wait. Sometimes a longer wait ends up meaning that we’re going to have that much better show and special effects when it’s all said and done, because it gives everybody the time to make it perfect.
I think so and I think the network is counting on that. I’ve been reading the blogs and people are really complaining and even speculating as to whether or not people are going to return because it’s going to be such a long hiatus, a big gap. But come on, you got Noah walking into a spaceship, you’ve got to come back for that!
Most shows are nine/ten months wait anyways. There’s a lot of summer shows that are the exact same year wait: Walking Dead, which a lot of people seem to want to compare Falling Skies to, which I’ve never personally watched.
I don’t know why. I watched a couple of episodes. I like it. I like the show. Also to tell you the truth, I feel that the people who are saying, “You know what? That’s too long. Forget it. It’s done. I’m done. In a year I’ve got…” Yeah, wait until the marketing machine kicks into gear again next year and throws it in your face. Those people, the negative things, they’re going to go right out the window. They’re going to go, “OH! Yeah!” Their need to see it will be resurrected again. They won’t be able to avoid it.
Oh yeah. I’ve replied to many, many of them on Facebook. I’ve said, “You know, okay, you can be unhappy. You can not like it. That’s fine, but there’s seven million people, every week, that enjoy it.” There’s hundreds of millions in America, not everybody likes the same show.
Yeah. That seven million number, that’s domestic. We’ve got seventy-four other countries that it’s airing in. We’re not even counting those, but believe me they factor in.
Oh. They do, a hundred percent! We hear from people, just on our site alone, from many different countries and they’re all loving it. It’s amazing that TNT and Dreamworks and Spielberg have worked together to take the show to so many countries, because at least in my lifetime, I can’t remember a TV show like this ever having been released in so many countries at the same time.
No. I think it’s a record and a year before that I was trying to explain to my folks. My parents, they’re kind of naïve to the industry. They’re asking questions, “Oh. You’re going to Toronto? Who are you going to stay with? Are you buying your own flight?” That kind of thing, you know? But I’m like, “No. You don’t understand how big of a project this is.“ I was trying to explain to my parents: The producers, they explained to me how they’re going to roll this out next year. Not only is Steven Spielberg attached, I’ve heard that the money that’s been committed to this and the plans for the global release is so huge. So I knew it was going to happen. I knew it was that big and I knew they weren’t messing around with this. It’s by far TNT’s biggest project. In the whole scope of television, I thought it was a massive project: Spielberg’s coming to television and look at the content. With a sophisticated audience out there a lot of effort’s going to have to be put in. If you’re going to go for it, you’ve got to go for it and that’s why it’s backed by Spielberg.
Yeah and you could always see the little hints of Spielberg throughout the series: His very typical standpoint for aliens and point of views and involving children as a main story focus.
Absolutely. Like that part where I put the helmet on Maxim, that was a very Spielbergian moment. Even the dog, Nemo, if you ever look at, if you’ve seen all Spielberg’s movies, every time there’s a canine in it, it’s a Golden Lab. Like in Poltergeist; Elliot’s dog in E.T., it’s a golden lab. I don’t know what kind of attachment he has, but he always uses that. So yeah, you can definitely see Spielberg’s, his personality and his tendencies, you see it all, so for sure.
Yeah. Definitely. Well, we’re hoping that see some blooper reels when the DVD comes out. That’s all up to TNT, but I’m sure there’s got to be a few of them out there.
I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’m comfortable with that. Think about it, blooper reel, huh? Because I know I wasn’t cracking that many jokes. I’ll tell you though; if there was one I would love to capture Noah because Noah is brilliantly hilarious. I’m going to reveal to you here, you know in the last couple of episodes I was bed-ridden, right? I was sitting there with field dressing on my gut, and one of these Mexican standoffs while I’m sitting there in the infirmary. You’re familiar with those scenes. Pretty much that’s the most tense scene in the whole first season. When Patton comes in and Moon kind of lures in Weaver and then Pope shows up. To tell you the truth, I’m supposed to be unconscious there, but I was trying to stifle my giggles. Because in between takes, for some reason – I don’t know how Noah does it – but he’s playing very stern and very serious and very under pressure, but as soon as the director would cut, Noah would crack jokes. Whether it’d be about me earning money by just lying there asleep when I already have a minimal dialogue already, so he’s making fun of that, and the fact that these two episodes I’m lying comfortably, you know I’ve got a robe and I was just walking around with a robe and slippers for a bunch of days, or actually for maybe a week and a half or two weeks, but he would come over during that scene and that was the one time I had laughed the most and Moon, Moon was laughing, we’re all there, almost the whole cast was there, but we were laughing because my God, I didn’t know he had it in him, but Noah is a genius at mimicking. We were literally I think for maybe four or five hours that one day, where he would break from the character Tom Mason, and then he’d come over and crack myself and Moon up again by doing his Dale Dye impression. If you ever get to talk to him ask him to do his Dale Dye impression. It’s incredible. He libbed as Dale Dye. He can get the voice down, and speech pattern and the terminology that Dale Dye uses, all militaristic and it just busted me up. I was laughing. Literally they’d be like, “Okay. Let’s get serious here. And rolling camera and sound…” and I’d have to close my mouth and play unconscious again whereas inside I was just laughing and laughing even though Noah would roll with it. Again, they would cut and then he’d come back and he would continue on with that. He’s a big ham. He’s absolutely, Noah is a comic genius and not many people know it.
Yeah. That’s actually the first we’ve heard of that. We heard a lot that Colin tended to be the little magician or jokester on the set quite a bit. Even in our interview he was very, very open about a lot of his answers. We asked him what his middle name was for his character Pope and he responded with Bieber as his middle name.
What? What did he say? Bieber?
Yeah, Colin, I call him actually Colin “Ham” Cunning. Really it’s so appropriate. He’s very cunning and he’s such a ham. Cunning in the sense he can pull the wool over your eyes. He’s a consummate performer because when he does his “illusions” he is actually – what’s illusion? I don’t believe in this hocus-pocus stuff, things don’t magically disappear, there’s always a trick behind the trick. – The thing is it’s all about distraction and he knows exactly, in real life, how to distract, knows what people, as a viewing audience, need to see for something to sell and that’s why he is such a brilliant actor. He knows exactly what to do, where the camera is, what to play, where to emphasize, where to draw attention to, because he is a perfect performer. I don’t care what medium it is; he knows what he’s doing. He’s born to do what he does, whether it be a magician…
I applaud TNT for just the choice of all you guys together, because when you see yourself on-screen and all of you as a group even off-screen, you mesh together very, very well.
Oh, I appreciate that.
And that has to be a huge relief when you’re filming too.
Yeah and it wasn’t like we had trial runs with each other. That, all credit has to go to Mr. Spielberg. He – like in all his projects – he is very particular about his casting, and I believe that – and it’s often remarked upon – it was him. He has the end say and he’s the one that put the whole cast together. To emphasize on that point, we really do get along off-screen as well. We’re in LA and we’ve got busy lives, but all things considered, we hang around a hell of a lot. Sometimes it will be different combinations of actors. It might be Jessie and Seychelle or Sarah, they might be hanging around with Colin at his Malibu pad or it might be me and Colin going off, like the other night going to a bar or something. We all hang out and we’re very lucky that we all get to hang out together, all of us. Last time that happened was at the premiere and that was a blast of a night, and we’re all looking forward to seeing each other again, which should be shortly in a month.
I really appreciate you taking the time Peter. I appreciate the openness and the answers and we look forward to hearing from you probably at the end of the year/next year when you guys are doing your rounds for season two.