2011 may well become known as ‘the year of alien invasion,’ but one of the most intriguing projects in that sub-genre could be Falling Skies, produced by Steven Spielberg for DreamWorks Television and TNT, which debuts next summer. Starring Noah Wyle (ER, The Librarian) and Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation), it’s set in the aftermath of a massive alien invasion, where just a handful of survivors are left to keep the remnants of human civilization alive.
With the first season now shooting in Toronto, Wyle and Bloodgood offered an early preview of things to come…
Could you give us a little background on your respective characters?
Noah Wyle: I play a guy named Tom Mason, former tenured history professor at Boston University, father of three, recently widowed. Two of my three boys are with me; the middle son has been captured in the invasion, as many adolescents are being pressed into service by the aliens. I join up with a resistance group, the Second Massachusetts, just as one of the survivors and I find myself getting pressed into more of a leadership role. After the pilot I get anointed as second in command to Will Patton’s character, Captain Weaver and find myself going from an academic to more of an action role.
Moon Bloodgood: I play Anne Glass, who is friends with Tom. I lost my daughter and husband and daughter during the invasion and feel that I’m moral support for Tom and his pursuit of trying to save what little family he has left. Hopefully I’m there as a human voice for the non-violent side of the war and things like that.
This series starts after the alien invasion has already happened?
Noah: The back-story is that six months ago, these ships appeared over the skies of every major metropolitan city in the world.
They stayed there for a while, and then suddenly systematically manage to knock out the power grid and everything electronic, whether it’s computers, cell phones; any car that works off electronics is totally obsolete, so mankind is thrown back almost into a 19th century existence.
All the major capitals have been destroyed, the army has been decimated and what’s left is stragglers, who have formed up this group in Massachusetts, so the pilot has them evacuating Boston as it’s no longer a tenable position to maintain, and splitting up into smaller groups that are less easy to track.
The idea is that these groups have all spread out and gone to ground and are trying to find a way to survive and meet back up at a later date when they’ve made a little more progress in figuring out if the aliens have some sort of vulnerability, or if we can figure out a way of developing a communication system or a way or knocking out their communication system, so that’s the basic premise.
What is the overall tone of the series?
Noah: It’s dark and dirty; it’s sort of your classic post-apocalyptic landscape; flipped cars and burning trash cans and ruined storefronts. The city has literally been flattened by this huge alien structure that comes down and crushes everything in downtown Boston and every other major capital in the world.
Do we ever find out what the actually aliens want?
Noah: There is something very specific that they do want, but we’re sworn to secrecy about it. The powers-that-be have assured us that this is all extremely well thought out and will be revealed not only in upcoming episodes but subsequent seasons as well
How involved has Steven Spielberg been with the project?
Noah: He’s been all over it.
Moon Bloodgood: He runs lines with Noah!
Noah: Not quite that involved. He was incredibly involved in the casting process and the shaping of the pilot script. He watched all the dailies and made all the editing suggestions.
It was his idea to go back and do the re-shoots. He drew the storyboards himself of what he wanted the re-shoots to include and cut all the trailers that you’re going to see. Not only is this completely in his bailiwick, but he started down the road of pre-production on three or four different features that didn’t come to pass, so he found himself with all this pent-up creative energy, that he applied to our show and which we benefited from.
What would you tell viewers to expect when the series debuts next year?
Noah: I can’t think of another series that’s quite like this. It certainly isn’t V or any of the other science fiction shows that I’ve seen. These aren’t morality tales cloaked in science fiction. This is a dark human drama with a lot of action. I don’t think I’ve done this much action in my entire career than I did in the pilot!
Moon Bloodgood: I think no matter how many times you say it’s a sad subject matter, you’re always drawn to something that challenges you like, what would happen if everything we lost, all our resources came to end? Who would we be? What would be important to us? It’s a world that I never get tired of, and it seems that audiences don’t either.
Noah: It’s a classic story about the human spirit. I watched The Road and The Book of Eli and all these post-apocalyptic movies recently, and the common denominator in all of them is that we live in a disposable society, our priorities are a little bit out of whack, the things we throw away are the things that we’d kill each other for should this ever really come to pass, so there’s an interesting morality take within that about what’s really important, whether it’s family or just human interaction and communication.
It’s going to make for interesting storytelling.