As the second season of "Falling Skies" comes to a close, I had the opportunity to talk with series star Connor Jessup, who plays Ben Mason, the son of Tom Mason (played by Noah Wylie), the co-head of the 2nd Mass rebellion against the alien invasion. Connor gave me some inside scoop as to what to expect for the second-season finale of the Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi phenomenon (which airs Sunday night on TNT).
Celebrity Extra: Without divulging too much, what can you tell me about the season finale?
Connor Jessup: Let's see ... Some new people and some new characters come in and some interesting twists come up , and this is all very general and very vague, but I can’t really go into too much more. I can say that at the end of the season, there’s a tremendous cliffhanger that boggled me when I read it, so hopefully it will boggle every one else when they watch it. The final two minutes especially are not to be missed.
CE: This has been a great opportunity for you as an actor, to have a character that has grown so much, and who has a really great story arc to present. How did you prepare to play this character?
CJ: I feel really lucky. I had this character presented to me — pretty much a full season-long arc, with each episode itself being a little arc — on a silver platter, which is something you don’t expect to be as fleshed out as it was. So, a lot of my work was done for me before I even arrived, in terms of creating this character. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time in terms of his situation and his experiences and his past to work into these new plot lines that these writers came up with. So, I was just enjoying it because last season was totally different experience. I didn’t get to participate in any of the action. This season it ramped up a lot. I have scenes with all the characters. I was in almost every action sequence. I got to participate in a whole bunch of really, really fun challenging stuff that I never got to do before and that way it felt like a totally different job. Those characters interest me if they can be done well, and our writers can do them well. I’m just excited to see what they cook up for season three.
CE: Season two was a big difference for you, compared with season one ...
CJ: Yeah, definitely. In season one, there was a big difference in age. In season one, I was 16 and we’re shooting in Toronto, and the regulations are somewhat different, so the most I could work was 12 hours a day, and two of those hours had to be tutoring and then another hour for lunch. So, it’s really just nine hours a day, which is not that long on a film set. I didn’t participate in any of the action sequences, which take place almost exclusively at night, so I was shooting mostly during the day. So for me, it was relatively like a 9-to-5 job. But season two was an entirely different ballgame because I finally got a taste of the medicine of what everybody else had been going through for a year. I was 17, and the regulations there mean that when you turn 17 you can work as long as an adult. So suddenly I was working 16 to 17 hour days every day, doing night shoots every day. It became a totally different experience for me and suddenly I felt like I was with everybody else going through the most difficult times because there’s nothing quite like being on set at 6 o’clock in the morning when you’ve been shooting for 17 hours and looking around and everybody else seeing how exhausted everybody is and everyone is sort of hysterical by that point. It’s a real bonding moment.
CE: In what ways can you relate to Ben?
CJ: I felt like Ben last season was much more like I am in real life in terms of I am somewhat bookish and I wouldn’t be much good in a battle. He wasn’t exactly like me, but there are more similarities. This season Ben is cold, distant, angry, violent. I’m generally not an angry or violent or hateful person for the most part. So that part of Ben was foreign to me, which is fun because as an actor, that’s a little more challenging. What I do like about Ben, what I think everyone could relate to, is that he under all this coldness and hardness that he’s built up between the two seasons is also a kind of childlike innocence and optimism that still hasn’t quite been shattered by the horrors of war. It's because of that optimism and childlike quality that he grasps so quickly onto the idea of a skitter rebellion and skitter resistance. He’s so optimistic about this for very little reason. You do feel like there’s a conflict between the new and the old, the adult and the child, and that exemplifies that conflict. And that’s what I’ve found most interesting. I like to call it puberty on steroids.
CE: A few months back, I interviewed Will Patton, who plays Capt. Weaver, and he is nothing like you'd expect if you went only by his character ...
CJ: Isn’t he the best? I love that guy. He has a caramel core. He’s like the sweetest, kindest man I’ve ever met. I could sing Will Patton’s praises for a year because he’s the most down to earth man, but so unbelievably dedicated. He puts all of us to shame. I don’t want to go on and on and on about Will Patton, but he’s one of my favorite people in the world.
CE: Are you excited for the season finale? Will jaws be dropping?
CJ: I think so, because mine did. It’s always interesting because for me, reading the script is entirely different from watching it on TV, obviously because it’s not quite the same with the visuals and the special effects and acting. But my jaw dropped when I read the ending, so I imagine anyone’s will. It’s quite the ending and it’s quite unexpected, and it doesn’t feel like a lot of cliffhangers on a lot of shows. I feel like this one makes sense in the context of the show and also it expands the scope of the show unbelievably. I hope everyone enjoys it.