As Falling Skies begins its 5th and final season next month, actor Doug Jones, who plays the alien Cochise (and all the other Volm aliens as well) talked with me today about the show, its mysteries, and the challenges he has faced playing this character.
What is it about Falling Skies that’s different for you from a lot of the other creatures you’ve played? In terms of prosthetics, or attitude?
The challenge for me in playing Cochise is the standing and delivering of mass amounts of dialogue. Of course, many of the characters I’ve played over the years have had dialogue, but they might be more physically defined, more communicative with their bodies, so I guess that’s kind of become my expertise, attached with my name, “Oh, he’s the guy who moves well. ” So when I got cast as Cochise, they created this beautiful alien being on my tall skinny form. And my very first day of work, on Season 3, to kind of help all this funny, smart, professorial dialogue come out of my mouth, my hands kind of floated up next to my face, with gesturing to try to help the words come out of my mouth, like I would normally do in real life. And the only note of acting direction I ever got on this entire show was, “PUT YOUR HANDS DOWN.” (laughter) So I had to explore the less is more theory, That Cochise had a confidence about him, that he didn’t need to flap his hands around to get his point across. He knows that if he stands and delivers, he will be heard. So that was a bit of a challenge for me, and a bit different for me, to be standing straight up and down, as a human would, which is great for me, because if I had some weird posture, or had to hunch over or squat, that would have been a long time to have to do that, for three years on this show. I was really thankful that he was a standing up, erect – as human-like as an alien could be on this show.
Will the Volm be involved more this season? You seemed to be kind of abandoned last season.
Didn’t he though? I don’t know if I would say more. I would say still. They’re involved more, but I wouldn’t say much more. They’re involved still. The Volm at large, the entire Volm presence, is still spotty, and the reason being is that this fight with the Espheni is more than just Earth. It’s been a universal battle, or war, that’s been going on for decades, centuries, before this show ever started, right? The Espheni attacked my planet, before I was even born on it – I was born on a ship in battle after the fact. So that’s all I’ve ever known.
Is it Cochise’s friendship with Tom and his regard for the humans that causes him to sort of break away, as you will, from his father’s wishes, to stay and help the humans?
Yes. Cochise does feel this allegiance to the humans in a different way than he’s ever felt in his lifetime before. And of course, as you’ve experienced, the Volm are very “by the book,” and very non-emotional, very intellectual, “this makes sense and that doesn’t.” And that’s of course drilled in by Cochise’s father, Waschak-cha’ab, also played by Doug Jones. You will see a bit more of Waschak-cha’ab, in episode 4, especially, so you have that to look forward to. There’s a very thick Cochise story line that’s going to happen in that episode. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, the writers really knocked that one out of the park. So I get to work out some of my daddy issues with Waschak-cha’ab, and we do address the issue of where do Cochise’s allegiances lie? Is it with the Volm or is it with the humans? Dad wants me to pick a team and play, and Cochise is like, “But daaaad, these are my friends!!!” And what comes with that is a very touching, emotional story, too, It’s just a beautiful episode. That will kind of set the tone for the Volm’s involvement thereafter, and for the rest of the season. I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s your teaser.
That will be exciting to watch develop over the season.
The Volm were introduced as this powerful race that could go head to head with the Espheni, and the humans don’t have to do anything anymore. In fact at the end of Season 3, we were saying, well, we’re going to ship you off to Brazil, we’ll fight the fight, and you guys stay protected. And of course, the human spirit was like, “No! This our battle and we’re going to fight it!” That was all go go, rah rah, and that was wonderful. And so with that, the other Espheni issues with the Volm were elsewhere in the universe, so they had to fly off, and Cochise elected to stay behind, against his father’s wishes. I’m sort of like the rebellious teenager at this point. So that kind of carries through Season 5 as well.
I know you can’t give much away, but there were hints at the end of last season about a mysterious third race of aliens. Will we see them, will we learn more about the questions that have been left?
Yes, you will. I believe there’s always been three factions in the writers’ intentions through this entire series – there’s been the humans, the Espheni and the Volm – and then there’s a fourth, race that plays into the storyline, and that’s who Tom has now encountered, with the “Oh, you’re so beautiful” – what on Earth is he seeing for the first time? You will learn who they are, what they are, what their backstory with the Espheni is. This new character that he’s encountered will hold some answers, some foretelling, and some guidance for Tom Mason in what’s yet to come. So it’s kind of comforting to know that this other character is showing up.
Last season seemed to have a real departure in terms of tone and attitude, and I think a lot of it was because you had a new showrunner (David Eick). Do you think this season continues that tone or do you think it’s more harking back to the first three seasons?
I feel that this year is a combo platter of all of the above. You’re very right, when David took over the showrunner chair, we went to more action, I felt, more visual effects. So it appealed to some, you can’t please everyone in your audience every minute of every show. It did appeal to a new brand of audience member. This year, the emotional content is very much back in place as well. So the action is at full volume, and the emotional quality of the relationships will also be back at full volume. And that goes for Cochise too, because I’ve been mostly connected with Tom Mason, and maybe Colonel Weaver, doing lots of leadership planning, this season you’ll see lots of emotional connection between Cochise and other characters Like Anne Mason (Moon Bloodgood) and Ben Mason, the middle son (Connor Jessup), we have more interaction. And also a lovely little moments with Sarah Carter’s Maggie. These are characters that Cochise hasn’t brushed with that much, So there’s more of everything this year to wrap it up.
I’m sure you know our website name is based on Falling Skies. I think it’s a requirement to write for the website that you have to be a Falling Skies fan.
Thank you so much for your support. We love you guys!
So with the show wrapping up this year, what’s your favorite thing about the show in general, and not just with your character?
It’s funny, for me, playing an alien from another planet, from another world, I’ve sort of been able to reexamine humanity – Doug Jones has been able to reexamine humanity – through the eyes of Cochise that I’ve been playing all these three years. Any post-apocalyptic story is going to make you review what’s important and what isn’t. If I were thrown into this situation, in real life, if some apocalypse really happens on Earth in my future, how am I going to handle it? Am I going to hang on to my scruples, am I going to hang on to my integrity, am I going to hang on to my morals, or am I going to become a John Pope? You know what I’m saying? It makes you wonder, what becomes of me if I’m pushed back against a wall, or put in danger’s way as these people have been constantly throughout these five seasons. So my takeaway is that you can keep all of your morals, your scruples, all of your relationships intact, because those are the most important things we have as humans, and our faith. Having faith and hope in a brighter day tomorrow, no matter how ugly it gets, we still can hang on to that, we can still fight for that.
Watch Falling Skies on TNT – Season Premiere June 28
Falling Skies website
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For more Falling Skies Cast Interviews: Click to see our chat with Drew Roy