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Interview with Colin Cunningham of "Falling Skies" on
I really enjoyed this call. Colin was very kind and
really funny. If you watch the show, you know that he is one of the best
things about it, and I was not kidding about that when I spoke to him
below. I look forward to seeing what else he can do. He's certainly
Moderator: Wendy Levison
July 20, 2011
1:30 pm CT
Operator: Good day and welcome to the Turner Entertainment-hosted Colin
Cunningham conference call. Today's conference is being recorded.
At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Ms. Wendy
Levison. Please go ahead.
Wendy Levison: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining the Colin
Cunningham "Falling Skies" conference call. "Falling Skies" is currently
airing on TNT Sunday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern.
The conference call is now open for questions. Please press star, one to
ask a question. Thank you.
Operator: At this time if you would like to ask a question, please press
the star and one on your touch-tone telephone. You may withdraw your
question at any time by pressing the pound key. Once again to ask a
question, please press the star and one on your touch-tone phone and
we'll wait for questions to queue.
Colin Cunningham: I have a question. Why isn't anybody asking me any
Operator: And our first question comes from Jamie Steinberg. Please go
Jamie Steinberg: Hi, it's a pleasure to speak with you.
Colin Cunningham: Hi, nice – this is really weird for me. It all seems
Jamie Steinberg: Well ((inaudible))
Colin Cunningham: And weird. Anyway, I'm sorry, what's your name?
Jamie Steinberg: Jamie.
Colin Cunningham: Hi, Jamie. Thank you for your question. What is it?
You there, Jamie? Hello? Hello?
Wendy Levison: Hi, Colin, I'm here. Hold on. I think we're having some
technical difficulties. This is crazy. Hold on.
Colin Cunningham: No problem.
Operator: Okay, we'll take our next question from Suzanne Lanoue.
Suzanne, please go ahead.
Suzanne Lanoue: Well, hi. Nice to speak with you today.
Colin Cunningham: Hi, Suzanne, you, too. I hope you're well. Good
Suzanne Lanoue: Thank you, you, too. Well, it's afternoon here on the
East Coast, but good morning to you.
Colin Cunningham: Ah.
Suzanne Lanoue: So congratulations on the show being picked up for
Colin Cunningham: Well, thank you very much.
Suzanne Lanoue: Any reaction to that?
Colin Cunningham: What's that?
Suzanne Lanoue: Any reaction to that, beyond just...
Colin Cunningham: Yes, well, I'm incredibly – look, I mean, yes, I'm
grateful. You know what? Yes, here's my reaction to being picked up. I'm
still trying to get over the fact that I even, you know, shot the first
season, that I even got the audition, you know, let alone got the part,
let alone actually got on set and shot a scene that didn't end up on the
editing room floor. For me, that's still – I'm still trying to just sink
all that in, you know? I mean, I'm working with – on a Spielberg project
with TNT and DreamWorks, and I'm still trying to get over that. So when
all that sinks in, I'll start thinking about the fact that we've been
picked up and do it again.
Suzanne Lanoue: Well, I'm sure it's pretty normal for actors to be
insecure and be grateful for any job they get, but let me tell you, your
character and the work you do on it is the best thing about the show, no
Colin Cunningham: Oh, wow. Hey, thank you, I appreciate that. And
everybody's working – well, you know, I've got to hand it to the
writers. I mean, they wrote somebody really cool, and I'm so blessed
that I'm able to show up and – you know, and put on my rubber noses and
make it happen. It's great.
Suzanne Lanoue: Yes, no, it's great. And ((inaudible)) upcoming episodes
((inaudible)) not everybody has seen yet, your character makes a
spectacular turn of events happen, and that was awesome to see, because
you sort of forgot about him for a while, he went away, and it's like,
oh, good, he's back.
Colin Cunningham: Oh, no, thank you. I appreciate that. I actually just
– I usually know when somebody's blowing smoke, even if it's a reporter,
you know, so...
Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, no, no, I'm not.
Colin Cunningham: I take you as being a very earnest person, so thank
Suzanne Lanoue: No, thank you. I enjoy the show and all. I love any
science fiction. But it's like, when your character shows, it's like,
oh, good, someone different, you know? It's like...
Colin Cunningham: Right.
Suzanne Lanoue: ... oh, kind of a bad guy, but an interesting, you know,
charismatic, intelligent bad guy, and it was really great, the interplay
between your characters. So I loved all that. Great.
Colin Cunningham: Oh, thank you.
Suzanne Lanoue: But I don't mean to just gush. Sorry.
Colin Cunningham: No, hey, cool, man. I'm excited, too. I think it's
wonderful. Just even last night, I was just saying we did a screening at
a place here, and it was the first time that the cast all sat in a panel
and then had all the – you know, the audience essentially made up of
fans – new fans of the show, and it was – all of a sudden, it was like,
wow, there's – it was really neat, the first time I'd ever seen people –
you know, fans of the show. It wasn't just a screening for TNT people.
It was like regular people coming to see it and ask questions, and it
was like, wow, this is really, really cool, you know?
Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, that's great, yes, because ((inaudible)) immediate
interaction like you would in a play when you're on TV, right?
Colin Cunningham: Yes, it was just really neat. And I was saying to (Chrissy),
the TNT publicist, that when everybody – you know, when they finish with
the Q&A, they said, okay, well, that's it, and everybody immediately got
up off of their chairs. And I thought, oh, Jesus, boy, we went on way
too long, like they're all running for their cars, you know, like, we're
out of here. Instead, they came up to the stage to ask for autographs. I
thought everybody was leaving to go home.
Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, no. That's funny. So you have another TV show coming
Colin Cunningham: I've got a couple of them. Right now, I'm also a lead
on a TV show on HBO called "Living in Your Car." It's an HBO Canada
series called "Living in Your Car." And I'm a lead on that, as well. And
I also did – I'm also recurring on CBS's "Flashpoint." I play Hugh
Suzanne Lanoue: Right.
Colin Cunningham: And then also, I did another TNT pilot this year
called "Perception" with Eric McCormack, so it's been a really busy year
for me. It's been wonderful. In fact, if anything, when I was shooting
"Falling Skies," I was shooting my other show on the weekends, and I was
working seven days a week. It was really intense.
Suzanne Lanoue: Wow. So are you getting recognized now more when you go
Colin Cunningham: No, and that's perfectly fine by me. It's kind of what
I do. Look, I've never been a big fan of just my face. And all my – you
know, I'm a character actor. All my favorite actors are character
actors. So, you know, on the show, I've got very, very long hair. That's
all extensions and all sorts of stuff, and I've got a full beard, and
I've got – I'm covered in tattoos, whereas I've got short blonde hair in
real life, and I'm clean-shaven.
So if anything, it's great, because people can appreciate the show, and
yet I can still have my, you know, anonymity, which is great, because
it's always much more fun to me to go to a park and watch people than to
go to a park and have people watching me. So I'm able to keep my life
the way I like it, but also do what I love to do. It's kind of cool.
Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, well, that's great. And, yes, they kind of made you
look like Jesus almost when you first came on the show. It's like, oh,
motorcycle gang Jesus.
Colin Cunningham: You know what? It's great, but I've literally got –
I've got – well, I guess – I call it my tackle box. It's a big, gigantic
make up kit, actually, and it opens, and when you open it up, the lights
come on, and I've got contact lenses and different dentures to change my
teeth. And I've got at least three different wigs that I'll use,
because, again, you know, I'm an actor. I like to do different things. I
can't – I'm not a big fan of just showing up and looking like me. It
doesn't do much for me, you know?
Suzanne Lanoue: Well, that's great. And I'll let somebody else ask some
questions, but thanks very much.
Colin Cunningham: No, thank you very much. Have a great afternoon.
Operator: And it looks like we'll take our next question from the site
of Jamie Steinberg. Please go ahead.
Jamie Steinberg: Can you hear me now?
Colin Cunningham: Hey, Jamie, how are you?
Jamie Steinberg: Good. I guess my call before got a little muffled, so I
appreciate you speaking with me.
Colin Cunningham: Not at all. I appreciate your time. Thank you.
Jamie Steinberg: What it is about this particular show that made you say
you had to do it?
Colin Cunningham: Well, it wasn't me that said I had to do it. It was my
landlord. But, well, I'll tell you. Here's – it was interesting. Sort of
the story with my audition, I never ask what it is. I never ask, because
if it's a little thing, just some little nothing thing, then I don't
want to get lazy. I want to go in there and do the best job that I can.
And if it's a big, gigantic thing, I don't want to freak out or become
intimidated, you know?
So I never ask. If anything, I said, well, what is it? And it's like,
oh, well, it's an alien thing. I'm like, okay, great, it's an alien
thing. So – but during the – for the audition, I went in ((inaudible))
guns. You know, it wasn't too much of a description of the character,
but I went in there with ((inaudible)) short blonde hair, but being the
kind of actor that I am, I love – I love getting into character.
So I definitely ended up doing dark hair and extensions and all sorts of
stuff. And I grew my goatee out, my beard, and I put tattoos all over
me, so essentially I went into the audition looking like John Pope, the
John Pope you see on TV. It really wasn't a whole lot of a much of a
difference. So – and I just thought, wow, what an incredible part. And
it wasn't until I think I got the call back that my agent said, you
know, Colin, do you know what this is? I'm like, yes, it's an alien
thing. He said, well, it's DreamWorks. And I said, DreamWorks? You mean
like Steven Spielberg DreamWorks? He says, yes, this is an TNT project
with Spielberg. And I was like, holy crap.
So if anything, I'm really glad that I didn't know that going in,
because I may have completely screwed it up. You'd have Rob Schneider
Jamie Steinberg: Yes, right. Well, there's such great chemistry between
you and Noah, a great animosity between you.
Colin Cunningham: I'll tell you, Noah's amazing. When we shot all that
dialogue, like his – Noah Wyle's character, his – the entire motivation
was to get me talking and to keep me talking so he can get – he can pull
a gun and essentially kill me, you know? And Noah's an amazing actor. He
really is. I was not only, you know, grateful for the help that he gave
me, but just – he's just a consummate professional. He's such a great
And we worked on those scenes, you know? And I'd ask him for, you know,
some ideas or – what do you think of this? And what do you think of
that? So – and he was always very, very – he's an incredibly generous
actor. He's not a, "No, it's all got to be about me," or any of that
crap. He's incredible to work with, and he really is the – I guess he
really raises the bar on the show. You know, the tone of the show is –
you know, he's the lead guy on the show, but he also is – well, he's
just a great representative. We all – you know, he shows up. He's so
prepared, and he's so good, he just inspires everybody else to be just
even better, you know?
Jamie Steinberg: What's the hardest part of filming for you?
Colin Cunningham: Hardest part of this particular show is – because it's
television, you're lucky to get one take. I mean, that's it. You get one
crack at it, because there's so – you've got to move. Especially with
this show, there's so much money involved that you may have 200 extras
in the background, and they've all got weapons and wardrobe and make-up.
And there's cars moving and things are being coordinated and
motorcycles. And this is all in the background, and all you and I have –
let's just say it's a couple of lines going back and forth. Well, that
may take 12 hours to set up, and if you screw up your lines, they've got
to redo 200 people and re-mark everybody, bring the trucks back around.
So there can be tremendous pressure. You don't have the luxury of really
rehearsing and getting into it.
So that's really, really hard. And if anything, again, that's where Noah
Wyle really impresses me, at how his choices that he makes and the
economy and how fast he can get where he needs to be – because, again,
you're looking at all these – everything with Noah ((inaudible)) with
me, it's one take. And it's very difficult to do, because sometimes you
just need to do one to get warmed up, you know what I mean? And we're
not often afforded that luxury.
Jamie Steinberg: Well, why do you think people tune in to watch "Falling
Colin Cunningham: Well, hopefully because, you know, it doesn't suck,
you know? Hopefully because it's good. I think there's two reasons.
Number one, it is epic. It's huge. It's a big, giant show. I mean, it's
not two people sitting on a couch sitcom kind of thing or it doesn't
take place at the cop shop, you know, at the police headquarters, and
it's a gigantic stage.
The other reason is the small part of it, and that is the characters,
just the people themselves. I don't think people are tuning in – you
know, the trick with a successful show is, a sci-fi show is people don't
tune in to see the aliens. They tune in to experience the stories and to
get to know the characters, and then the aliens and all that other stuff
is a perk.
And hopefully that's – well, that's why I'd tune in, anyway. I think
it's a wonderful show.
Jamie Steinberg: I agree. And apparently the critics do, too. Thank you
so much for your time.
Colin Cunningham: Oh, thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.
Operator: And once again, to ask a question, please hit the star and one
on your touch-tone phone.
Colin Cunningham: Except for me. I can't do that.
Operator: And we will take our next question from Courtney Cashman.
Please go ahead.
Courtney Cashman: Hi, it's a pleasure talking with you today.
Colin Cunningham: Hey, Courtney, you, too. Hello. Where are you?
Courtney Cashman: I'm in Boston, actually.
Colin Cunningham: In Boston. Oh, my god.
Courtney Cashman: Yes, I was going to ask you, have you had an
opportunity to see Boston before an alien attack?
Colin Cunningham: No, I haven't. I haven't. I would love to see Boston.
I really, really would. About the closest I ever got to Boston was in
Toronto they locked down a freeway, like two miles of freeway, and they
filled it with buses that had been tipped over and semi-trucks on fire
and cars smashed into each other, but the sign on the bridge, it said,
"Boston, one mile." And that's pretty close. It's as close as I've
Courtney Cashman: Well, we'd love to have you over on this side of the
Colin Cunningham: Sure. I'd love it.
Courtney Cashman: So I'm wondering if you had any bad guy role models
that you kind of tried to slip in a little of them into John Pope?
Colin Cunningham: Well, yes ((inaudible)) person that comes to mind,
actually, it wasn't so much bad guy, but I thought this guy has – it's a
word you don't often hear all that much anymore – at the least character
to me – was charisma. There's something charismatic about him. And it's
not a word that's often attributed to too many actors out there, except
for one that I know of is Peter Falk, God rest his soul. But Peter Falk
– I'm a big Cassavetes fan. And Peter had charisma. There was just
something about the swagger, the – just his vibe, you know, because it's
not an easily definable ((inaudible))
And so that was important to me, because bad guy, schmad guy, you know?
And any smart actor naturally isn't going to play him as a bad guy. He's
going to – that's already done. The writers have already done that, you
know? So for me, it was about trying to find something different about
him. What is he? You know, he's kind of part Shakespeare's, you know,
Puck. And on the other side, you know, he's – you know, he's (Rector
Howe). Or I don't know.
But – so for me, it was about trying to find something that was
different. And so much of that was already in the writing. He's so
intelligent. He's so smart. He's articulate. He's an opportunist. He's
incredibly selfish. But I think in another lifetime, if John Pope had –
you know, I can almost see John Pope and Tom Mason being best friends in
school, in elementary school, and then, because of different choices in
life, they ended up taking different paths, you know?
Courtney Cashman: Yes. Well, I'm also curious about John Pope's
relationship with Margaret. Clearly, they've had a rough patch, and she
did kill John Pope's brother. Are we going to see any sort of more
tension, maybe even worse, in the episodes to come?
Colin Cunningham: I really hope so. I really hope so. It was interesting
that there – I was waiting for it and hoping for it, but there finally
was a scene – because basically throughout the entire season, those two
never really talk. And I thought, wow, are they ever going to do
something with this? And finally, I believe it's either – I think it may
be the last episode, it's either eight or nine or nine or ten, where we
do have a scene. And so I know that the writers don't forget, you know?
But, yes, I think that's – I would love to explore that relationship.
Sarah Carter is amazing, you know, in the role, but it was interesting,
because so much is not said. I mean, was John Pope a part of the
(nastiness) before? You know, because it was never entirely clear.
I would – for me – you know, Sarah may have a different opinion – but I
would say absolutely not. I don't – I think if Pope had have been there
when that bit of nastiness was going on, it would have stopped. It would
have ended. I think that that was – that's something he does – he
wouldn't be a part of.
That said, I do believe that he knew about it or found out about it and
chose to do nothing, because you're in a war situation, and still
there's still strength in numbers, and it's unfortunate that you've got
to fill your numbers with basically people who are garbage for the sake
of being able to fight these aliens. And, you know, I mean, war creates
strange bedfellows, you know?
Courtney Cashman: Well, I'm a big fan of the show, big fan of John Pope
in particular, any scene he's in, so I'm looking forward to seeing more.
Colin Cunningham: Oh, thank you, me, too. I just – I'm just – I'm
grateful for – well, I'm just grateful for your time. You know, thanks.
I know that it's kind of your job and stuff, but it's still is – you
know, people's time is important, and I appreciate your wanting to talk
Courtney Cashman: Thanks.
Colin Cunningham: Thank you.
Operator: And this concludes today's question-and-answer session. It is
now my pleasure to turn the call back over to Ms. Levison for any
closing remarks. Go ahead, please.
Wendy Levison: Thank you, everyone, for joining today's call. As a
reminder, "Falling Skies" airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
The transcript of this call will be available within 24 hours.
Thank you so much, Colin, for joining us, and thank you, everyone, for
Colin Cunningham: Thanks, everybody ((inaudible))
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